Solutions that don’t break the bank, reinvent the wheel or marginalize our teachers are within our grasp. We could have rigorous classes, safe and disciplined schools and treat teachers like valued colleagues rather than easily replaceable cogs, and we could do so tomorrow if we wanted. Disclaimer, this is an opinion and commentary site and should not be confused as a news site, and you should know that quite often people may disagree with the opinions posted herein.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
What you don't know about Standardized Tests
From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet, By Lisa Guisbond
If you are surprised at the surge of support for Seattle’s Garfield High teachers’ boycott of district-mandated standardized tests, you probably haven’t been paying enough attention. Perhaps a pop quiz will help. In June, I constructed a pop quiz on our national obsession with testing that proved surprisingly popular. It included questions on subjects such as Florida’s decision to dramatically lower the passing score on its writing exam due to embarrassing scoring glitches, New York’s eighth grade test and its absurdly confusing reading comprehension questions, and who pays for and who profits from our national testing explosion. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with fast-moving developments in the national rebellion against high-stakes testing, so here’s another pop quiz to keep you on track:
a) “In my kids’ school, there are TWO practice tests before the real one (our first was before Thanksgiving), and countless days and weeks of test prep-type sessions: practice summarizing, practice finding the “best answer” of 4, practice underlining and sussing out the main point of ridiculously contrived articles and stories, resulting in WEEKS of instructional time instructing THE TEST. WEEKS. Not TEN HOURS.”
b) “While the actual tests are ten hours (which by the way, is ridiculously too long for a third grader), the amount of preparation that goes into getting ready for the tests takes away from lessons that should focus on critical thinking.”
c) “I think it is too much money on tests that are riddled with errors. I think that writing tests with a profit motive will lead to cut corners. The profit has to come from somewhere. In New York State, tests used to be made up by groups of teachers. The only motive was writing a good test. Testing is eating up our entire educational system. The 11 hours of Pearson produced state tests my fourth grader is supposed to take in the spring (she is not because we are opting her out of them) has put complete control of the rest of her instructional time in the hands of Pearson and the State.”
d) All of the above.
4. Which of these statements was made by a school superintendent in the last few months?
a) “I am very troubled by the amount of testing we are being asked to do. We can teach our way to the top, but we cannot test our way to the top.
b) “We’re getting ready in the state of North Carolina to put out 177 new exams.”
c) “We need a three-year moratorium on all standardized tests.”
d) All of the above.
5. In light of growing opposition by parents, students, teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards to the overuse and abuse of standardized testing (including many voters’ rejection of policies favored by the administration) what has Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he will do?
a) “Our basic theory of action is not going to change.”
b) “Our job, in a second term, is to support the bold and transformational reforms at the state and local level that so many of you have pursued during the last four years.”
c) Continue “to provide incentives and supports” for states to implement the administration’s favored reforms.
d) All of the above.
6. What can parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members do to change the costly and destructive path we are on?
b) Get involved with your local schools to review and reconsider the amount and uses of testing.
c) Write your members of Congress or your legislature and tell them federal/state education policy needs to fundamentally change course and regain a sane and reasonable approach to assessment and accountability.