"After returning inspired and ready to change the world only to be thrust back into the invariable cycle of desks, worksheets, textbooks, and lockers, education’s expectation for me hit me painfully hard. I realized that apparently my job is to shut up and study hard. If I’m so inclined, I can go out for a sport or join a club, but my schoolwork should trump all. I’m not supposed to contribute anything noteworthy to the world, but instead lay low and consume it until after I’ve graduated. Sure, adults applaud when we do something great outside of school. But ultimately school only cares if it meets some curriculum standard that can be measured. Oh, and it has to be the one we are studying right now, and it has to be part of an assignment that’s going in the gradebook. If not, I don’t get credit and therefore it’s a waste of my time."
Some fascinating testing possibilities with Common Core. Definitely worth a look.
I ended a previous SmartBlog post with this caution: “Remember that the day of any test, students work alone. Without us. They employ not what we have ‘taught’ but what they have ‘learned.’” In regards to computer-based testing, this is even more true.
Consider one fourth-grade example found in that SMARTER Balanced Zip file. In it a student is asked to read a bit of a story that contains only descriptions with no dialogue. The prompt states: “This is the beginning of a story written by a student who wants to add dialogue. Decide where the three pieces of dialogue should be placed. Click on them and move them into the correct order.” Then, the child must do just that. Instead of simply selecting from four multiple choices, a fourth-grader interacting with that prompt, drags several sentences containing dialogue around and around until they believe they are in the correct order. In another example, listed as eighth grade, a student is presented with a passage, then this prompt: “‘Joy Hakim, the author of this passage, admires Sojourner Truth. How can you tell that the above statement is true? Click on a sentence in the passage that could be used as evidence to support this statement.’” Then, again, instead of selecting one of four choices, a student could click on any sentence in the entire passage to back up that claim.
"Employers say ‘Send us someone who can think, we can train them,’” she said. “In today’s era of high stakes testing and accountability, schools are drilling and killing our kids with facts students don’t retain. We have to reconfirm our commitment to teach our students how to think about skills and content."
I’m always frustrated by this particular line. As if the schools have a choice in the matter, when standardized testing is a mandate handed down from state and federal governments. Yes, it’s clearly the schools and not the overpaid politicians who know next to nothing about education.
Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests.
The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So this is really a religious issue, and not an educational one. I would think a tenet of most major religions would be tolerance of opposing viewpoints and philosophies.
Because what I hadn’t known—this is my first time grading this exam—was that it doesn’t matter how well you write, or what you think. Here we spent the year reading books and emulating great writers, constructing leads that would make everyone want to read our work, developing a voice that would engage our readers, using our imaginations to make our work unique and important, and, most of all, being honest. And none of that matters.
"Ms. Moore said the “hands-on” cellphone policy was proposed by School Board member and local realtor, Carol McMasters who said the idea came to her while talking with friends who regularly consult their cellphones. “Whenever we forget the name of an actor, or a musician, we pull out our phones and find the answer. Right away, we know without guessing. Why can’t students do the same thing?” Her husband, Larry, a self-described hacktavist, convinced her that cell phones would help kids think of standardized tests as a massively multiplayer game, in which they were cracking secret educational codes. Mr. McMaster said that he would prefer to see standardized testing eliminated and he embraced his wife’s idea as a means to that end. “If every kid in America could find the right answer to every question, maybe testing will just go away."
I agree with a lot of this, but let’s see how long it lasts.
UPDATE: Turns out this is satire and I’m an idiot. I do expect things to be clearly marked. I’m feeling sad that this seemed entirely plausible to me.
Nearly every teacher has students who can solve math problems successfully in class, but then get scores on state assessments that don’t reflect their understanding. Some freeze up at test time, others open their test booklets and impulsively raise their hands looking for rescue. And still others write unclear explanations that offer little evidence of their knowledge. The good news—this scenario can be changed! With a few simple techniques, we can boost students’ confidence levels, increase independent work habits, and help them maximize their communication skills on test day and beyond.
Or we could recognize that a “one size fits all” standardized test system is garbage.
If memory serves, years ago a group of students at a California high school deliberately filled in incorrect answers on a test the state used to evaluate its schools, thereby guaranteeing that the school would sink in the rankings. They were upset because the principal failed to bow to their demand for a smoking area or some similar privilege.
Whether the principal was right or wrong is immaterial. What matters is that the state had put him in that position by creating a test whose results meant nothing to those being tested — but could lead to cash bonuses for schools doing well.
Students at other high schools apparently went to their principals and offered to do really well in return for privileges. Not sure how that turned out.
In 2006, according to California reporter John Fensterwald, students at a charter school in San Jose protested the dismissal of a couple of popular teachers by sabotaging a state test. The school’s score on the all-important Academic Progress Index dropped 203 points, from 731 to 528.
“At 6:30, Angela finally pushes the test away, puts her head and her arms on her desk, and with tears in her eyes says: ‘I’m done.’”
Bob tells the story of Angela, a fifth grade student at his school who has struggled throughout the school year with English and reading. She’s received extra help during the school day and extra tutoring after school, but if she doesn’t pass Texas’ day-long, untimed standardized test, the TAKS, she might not get to go to sixth grade. In an attempt to do her best on the test, Angela spends all day on the exam. She doesn’t finish till 6:30 at night.
To: The President, Congress, and the Governors of All 50 States
Whereas high stakes standardized tests, an international phenomenon, represent a powerful intrusion into classrooms, often taking up as much as 40% of teacher time, And whereas the tests pretend that one standard fits all, when one standard does not fit all,
And whereas these tests measure, for the most part, parental income and race, and are therefore instruments which build racism and anti-working class sentiment—against the interest of most teachers and their students,
And whereas these tests deepen the segregation of children within and between school systems, a move that is not in the interests of most people throughout the world,
And whereas inner-city families and poor families are promised tests as an avenue to escape the ghetto and poverty, when the tests are designed to fail their children, boosting dropouts, leaving more children trapped in the ghetto and poverty, deepening inequality and all forms of injustice,
And whereas the tests set up a false employer-employees relationship between teachers and students which damages honest exchanges in the classroom,
And whereas we have seen repeatedly that the exams are unprofessionally scored, for example in New York in 2000 when thousands of students were unnecessarily ordered to summer school on the grounds of incorrect test results,
And whereas the tests create an atmosphere that pits students against students and teachers against teachers and school systems against school systems in a mad scramble for financial rewards, and to avoid financial retribution,
And whereas the tests have been used to unjustly fire and discipline educators throughout the country,
And whereas the exams represent an assault on academic freedom by forcing their way into the classroom in an attempt to regulate knowledge, what is known and how people come to know it,
And whereas the tests foment an atmosphere of greed, fear, and hysteria, none of which contributes to learning,
And whereas the tests destroy inclusion and inquiry-based education,
And whereas the high-stakes test pretend to neutrality but are deeply partisan in content, reflecting the needs of elites in a world becoming more inequitable, less democratic,
And whereas the tests become commodities for opportunists whose interests are profits, not the best interests of children,
And whereas education organizations like the faculty association of the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association, and the American Educational Research Association have all supported long-term authentic assessment, and opposed high-stakes standardized examinations such as, but not limited to, the SAT9 in California, the Michigan MEAP, the Texas TAAS„ SOL in VA, FCAT in Florida, MCAS in Massachusetts, OPT in Ohio, and the New York Regents Exam,
And whereas there is a rising tide of education-worker resistance to the high-stakes exams, as well as student and educator boycotts:
Be it therefore resolved that we the undersigned sign this petition as an indication of our support for authentic long-term assessment in schools, and our support for popular resistance to the tests, particularly teach-ins, job actions and boycotts–and creative civil strife such as theater, art, songs, demonstrations,sit-ins, and other methods to inform, unleash creativity, and resist.
Sponsored by The Rouge Forum, The Whole Schooling Consortium, E. Wayne Ross, Rich Gibson, Michael Peterson, Sandra Mathison, Susan Ohanian, Staughton Lynd, Amber Goslee, Susan Harman, Kevin Vinson, Valerie Pang, Perry Marker, David Hursh, Steve Fleury, Judy Depew, Greg Queen, Katy Landless, Patrick Shannon, Kathleen Keeson, George Schmidt, Sharon Schmidt, Marty Kaye, David Strom
With roughly 6,340,000 students enrolled in the state’s schools, the official cost breaks down to about $32 per student. That might not sound like much, but since taking standardized tests or high school exit exams hasn’t even been proven to increase student achievement, at a time of budget crisis, every dollar counts. Plus, experts put the real amountCalifornia spends annually “to administer, defend, tutor, and teach to the CAHSEE beginning in seventh grade at upwards of $550 million annually.” And, keep in mind, these numbers don’t even begin to include the amount every local district spends on assorted quarterly standardized assessments.
Meanwhile, over the past three years, California’s K-12 schools and colleges have been hit with $20 billion in budget cuts and more than 30,000 teachers—people that actually work with kids and, you know, teach them—have been laid off. Another 30,000 teachers have been pink slipped this year alone. If each of these teachers earns an average of $50,000, that’s $150 million needed in the budget to keep them in the classroom—far less than the real cost of the CAHSEE.
Trombetta and her students, 87 percent of whom come from poor families, are part of one of the most aggressive education-reform experiments in the country: a soon-to-be state-mandated attempt to evaluate all teachers — even those in art, music, and physical education — according to how much they “grow” student achievement. In order to assess Trombetta, the district will require her Chamberlin Elementary School first-graders to sit for seven pencil-and-paper tests in art this school year. To prepare them for those exams, Trombetta lectures her students on art elements such as color, line, and shape — bullet points on Colorado’s new fine-art curriculum standards.
All of this left Trombetta pretty frustrated, and on a November afternoon, she really wanted to talk. As she ate lunch (a frozen TV dinner) in her cheery, deserted classroom plastered with bright posters, she recounted the events of the past week. She liked the idea of exposing her young students, many of whom had never visited a museum, to great works of art. But, Trombetta complained, preparing the children for the exam meant teaching them reductive half-truths about art — that dark colors signify sadness and bright colors happiness, for example. “To bombard these kids with words and concepts instead of the experience of art? I really struggle with that,” she said. “It’s kind of hard when they come to me and say, ‘What are we going to make today?’ and I have to say, ‘Well, we’re going to write about art.’”
Things that struck me: 7 times a year? Teaching half truths about art?
This article is pretty long, but a worthwhile read. Other noteworthy points:
Every student in the aforementioned school spends about 25 days a year testing.
Beginning in 2013, teachers in Colorado will be let go if their students do not “grow” enough for two years in a row, and they do not successfully complete remediation.
Since the current superintendent has come into this school district, test scores have improved over the past 5 years.
Teachers in this district should expect up to 16 on the spot observations per semester to receive feedback & improve.
In Finland, South Korea, and other high achieving nations, teachers only spend 50% of their workday with students- compared to 80% in most American schools. Teachers in these other high performing countries spend the rest of the time collaborating with others on lessons, observing other teachers.
However, there are far too many points from this article to post here! Please take the time to read this, though you may need to re-visit it a couple of times.