This semester I am using Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, with my intermediate reading class. It has been slower going than I anticipated despite almost six weeks of preparation, some of the preparation unwise, but that is another story. I have given a few tests including a three chapter test and a midterm covering five chapters, both of which I wrote. I curved the results to factor in some less than sterling items. On the midterm, the results almost fit into a bell curve, so it must have done something right. The results indicate a majority of students have done well in the class.
However, I can’t measure their performance against previous students since I am not using a totally skills based approach focused on passing tests. Instead, we work on skills through working with the different chapters. This leads to questions as to comparing with past performance. Today, I gave a reading comprehension test, the second one, and used the exact test I used the last two times I gave the test. I checked the results of the last two administrations. In the spring, I curved the scores based on the highest number correct and had an average of around 60. In summer A, I had a mixed high beginner and intermediate class and the average was around 54. The average on today’s test was close to 68 without any curving. I take this as an indication that something must be going right. I can’t compare the first reading comprehension test