Thank you to everyone who replied. I sincerely appreciate everyone's comments and points of view, which is why I posted the question. Thank you also to Mr. Crouch for his question examples. They are very helpful in getting me started.
I really like the open book exam suggestion and hadn't thought of that myself. I also recognize that some people test better than others (verbally, in writing or through physical motion) and that a single test is not the only or even best way to evaluate a student's knowledge per se, but we need some yardstick for advancement and assessment both as teachers and as students. I also think the overall testing process should consist of different requirements, both physically and mentally challenging enough to allow the student to express themself in more than one format. This is why I was planning on a combination-written exam, physical exam and an oral interview section. The student's combined scores will make up his overall grade and he wouldn't pass or fail based solely on how he does on one single portion.
Different black belts have strength in different aspects of the art. Some are great movers physically. Others are gifted at teaching or writing and articulating the art. Mr. Parker was a unique combination of all of the above and as the original standard setter, his is the example I was hoping to follow with respect to testing requirements by at least touching on the scholarly side of the art as well as the physical.
I will also be having visiting black belts on the testing panel that do not know the student as well as I do, so I thought the test questions would at least give everyone (student and testing panel) a starting point from which to evaluate the student's accumulated knowledge. The panel members should hopefully be able to assess the subject matter covered with the student based on the types of questions asked and the topics covered and can evaluate with that as a starting point. As his instructor, I know what he has been taught and how well he moves and loves the art. I wouldn't be recommending him for testing if I honestly doubted he was ready. I think the test is an opportunity on some level for the student to "showcase" how hard he or she has worked to be eligible to test for black and ultimtately wear a black belt. If it is too easy, I would feel like I was cheating the student of an opportunity to rise to a genuine challenge and I think the bigger the challenge, the greater the student will appreciate the experience.
I also think that as his instructor I may be unconsciously biased on some level, which is why I think it important that I am not the only person evaluating him. Some objective review by others is very helpful both to him, and to myself. If a student does poorly, the instructor must take responsibility for that and a panel of objective black belts sets the bar a little higher than if he were just testing in front of me I would think. Again, thanks to everyone for their insight, advice, comments and input!
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