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View Diary: A pointed commentary on the cheating scandal in Atlanta (237 comments)

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  •  a rush to the bottom (41+ / 0-)

    Standards were meant to be aspirational and organizing; they were never designed to be draconian judgments on teaching and learning. We have gone so far astray, and the US Dept. of Education has led the way. Thanks, Ken, for continuing to speak truth to utter insanity.

      •  I agree with Ayers. But I'm not so sure that the (8+ / 0-)

        biggest problem anymore, is standardized testing.

        IMO, it's the so-called 'reforms' that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has promoted relentlessly, that are most damaging to our school systems.  

        TN won the Administration's first pot of money (grant) of $501 million dollars in the 2010 contest "Race To The Top."

        According to my educator family members--it's been 'downhill' ever since.  Two have actually retired 'early' due to the havoc that these 'reforms' have wrought.

        They also believe that it has been a great help to the school voucher crowd.  The state legislature's currently wrangling over a school voucher bill, which I believe has been in the making for about two years.

        A huge conservative protestant church borders a property of ours.  The 'ink was not dry' on the Grant Award [from the first round of 'Race To The Top' grants] when the church 'broke ground' on their church school.

        From what I've read, much of what is happening in Chicago under the direction of Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is just an expansion, and/or the carrying out of Mr. Duncan's so-called education 'reform.'

        It would be interesting to hear from Chicago teachers, as to whether or not they believe that reforms that Duncan put in place are part of the problem (I only know what I read about Chicago).

        I am no longer an education activist, but I's say that a good place to start if one wants to improve the public school system is to call for the replacement of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.  [And obviously his 'reform policies.']

        Here's an excerpt and link to an Op-Ed from the Twin Cities Daily Planet which addresses "The Race To The Top."

        OPINION | What's wrong with Race to the Top, and what's right with Minnesota schools

        Similarly, we need to avoid the slash-and-burn approach to fixing schools labeled "struggling" or "failing."  The Race to the Top program and the related School Improvement Grant program require mindless labeling of "persistently low achieving schools" and the implementation of quick fixes that have no proven track record.  The required changes do little more than blame school staff, promote privatization, and remove those closest to the challenges from the decision-making. Each school that falls into this category must carry out one of four changes: 1) replace the school administration and restructure instructional time and professional development, 2) same as the first option, but also replace at least 50 percent of the staff, 3) close and convert the school to a charter, or 4) close the school and send the students elsewhere.

        BTW, thanks to teacherken, and all the rest of the teachers here at DKos.

        Good luck fighting the school privatization movement!

        Mollie

        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        hiddennplainsight

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:10:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My theory about teachers is simple... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        Back in the days before women had a wide choice of employment opportunities, the best and brightest became teachers (or nurses or executive secretaries, etc.).

        After the doors were thrown open to employment in corporations, MBA programs, medical school and law school, those who used to become teachers now took advantage of theses new horizons.

        Over the past several decades many who went into teaching were not qualified to explore other higher paying professions. While the testing system may not be the best, neither are some teachers.

        I know this is a broadly drawn statement.

        I readily admit that there are many teachers who do that job out of a desire to advance knowledge and help our youth, but there are also many who do it as a last resort to be able to consider themselves a professional and have a fairly stable and protected job.

        This is just my assessment after viewing K-12 education and its results over a 50 year period of time.

        We need better teachers, involved parents and communities to see that the kids do their part.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:17:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think that standardized test scores were always (15+ / 0-)

      intended to make the public schools look bad and set the public up for embracing charters and vouchers.  That was exactly what the plan has always been.  We are watching it play out as they wanted from the beginning.

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 05:53:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not exactly (33+ / 0-)

        most standardized tests are norm-referenced.  Whether or not those norms are valid is almost incidental

        what they are designed to do is to spread out the scores along a bell curve, in other words, sort students.

        If you understand that principle, you will begin to understand why using them to evaluate the effectiveness of schools or teachers or even how well students are doing is problematic.

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:04:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd Never Heard It Said That Way (16+ / 0-)

          "bell curve" and to "sort students."

          But my gosh when I read it put that way I totally think you are right and it pisses me off even more.

          I am a little "off" at times. Strange. Hard to be around. I had teachers embrace that, not find it as a fault, and educate me in ways that worked for me. I am almost in tears as I type this cause if it wasn't for them I don't know where I'd be.

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:09:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am also not a natural fit (15+ / 0-)

            although as a keen observer of human behavior I have learned how to emulate what is considered appropriate behavior in social situations.  

            Like you I was fortunate to have teachers/professors along the way who could see through what was false and/or off-putting about me and validate what was real, which is also what enabled me to grow.

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:17:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When I first started teaching in the 70's (15+ / 0-)

              standardized testing was supposed to be somewhat diagnostic!!!!! The results of the tests would be given to the teachers so that the teacher could work on the "weak" areas.....but, the tests results were not given to the teachers until the following year for parent-teacher conferences. Often the teacher had not even looked at them before the conference and many did not know how to interpret the results...and, depending on the test and test company, often just gave a "grade level" for reading and math. Waiting until Veteran's Day to give parents a test score from last April by a teacher who was not that student's teacher last year, didn't help much. No diagnostic recommendations, no remediation, no plans or suggestions, in other words a waste. Over the years, with the advent of a "school report card" the scores became more important...but not to "help" the student or teacher in planning the curriculum, because the curriculum became "fixed" and teachers were judged by whether they were on the right page at the right time. The be all and end all was the test and the publishing company that provided the tests and curriculum...nothing has changed other than publishers are doing big business sell their solutions to entire school districts and states.

              Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

              by Temmoku on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:32:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I worked with schools in the '80s and '90s (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                qofdisks, ladybug53, caul

                to help them interpret their standardized test results. We used an item analysis to better identify strengths and weaknesses.
                That was somewhat more useful than just the grade level scores.

                You are right that the data was often for the previous year's students, so it did nothing to help teachers with their current students, and, of course, there was no feedback that would help students.

                At the time, standardized tests were only marginally useful. Now, in places with high stakes testing, they are an educational disaster.

                •  There's no item analysis of the tests used under (5+ / 0-)

                  the No Child Left Behind Act.  There are only scores expressed as "basic, proficient or advanced" and a "scale score" - a number for reading, a number for math.  The questions cannot be discussed under penalty of firing and/or losing your teaching license for reasons of test security so we never can learn which questions the students answered correctly, which ones they answered incorrectly.  But the percentages of students scoring in the 3 categories are used to judge the school and by extension the teachers.  If, by 2014, 100% of the students do not score proficient or advanced, the school fails.  

                  The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

                  by helfenburg on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:47:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  .... (6+ / 0-)

                    And there lies the absurdity of the plan.  Where in society is any large group of people 100% successful?  Do we say the police are not doing their job unless 100% of the citizens follow all laws?  Do doctors have to have 100% cures of patients?  

                    How could anyone set that bar with a straight face?

                    My school is currently trying to rise above our "unacceptable" rating.  The entire school is rated as "unacceptable" because one subgroup (one race, and one gender in that race) did not score as acceptable on math.  Tell me how our entire school is unacceptable!  Yet that is what the newspaper and internet will tell parents.  In many cases, just a few students can cause this to go over the line.  

                    We are giving the new state tests this week and one boy in my room continued to go to sleep, even though I kept waking him up.  In the periods where he was awake, he would not answer a question.  Clearly something is going on here.  I know his English teacher (it was the English test) and know how hard she works with all of her students.  Maybe he has problems at home.  In any case, should our school be given a low grade because we have many students who live in poverty?

                    I have taught in the "good school" and also the "low-performing" school.  Let me tell you--the teachers in the low-performing school work much harder to get those lower scores than the ones in a school with a lot of parental support and educational resources at home from birth.  

                    •  .... (4+ / 0-)

                      To clarify--when standardized tests are given, students are assigned testing rooms that are manned by assigned teachers.  In other words, all freshmen students with last names of A-B will be assigned to a room and a teacher that is probably not the teacher of many of the students in that room.  The English teacher does not administer the test to only his/her students.  This is a big undertaking and requires shuffling the schedules of the entire school, in one way or the other, since the tests are four hours long--longer than any one class period.

                    •  A further absurdity for 100% proficiency (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ladybug53, Cassandra Waites, caul

                      is the large number of English Language Learners entering schools every year.
                      It's vitually impossible for a student who enters school not speaking English in the fall of 2013 to test proficient in English in the spring of 2014.
                      A student classified as not proficient in English--by definition--cannot be proficient in English.

                  •  The item analysis did not use actual test items. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    caul

                    It was really an analysis by specific objectives. Each objective might be measured by two or three items. I'm not sure if that's still available.

                    •  Got it. No, no analysis provided whatsoever. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      caul, Cassandra Waites

                      That's part of what it makes it so especially pointless.  The whole testing project - it consumes days of time and who knows how much money, serves the sole purpose of generating the one-word "score" and the one-number "scale score" without more in order to judge whether the school "fails" or "succeeds".  Of course, failure in one "subgroup" means the school fails.  So even if overall the school succeeds, but the ESOL students don't make the 100% cutoff, the whole school fails.  

                      It is not without reason that I say it is designed to make failure very, very likely.  I can only assume that that must be the goal.

                      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

                      by helfenburg on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 03:02:24 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  If all the students 'passed' (8+ / 0-)

            no one would say, "hooray our kids are learning and our teachers are teaching." They'd say, "Gosh, those tests are clearly too easy and meaningless."

            If too many kids get a question right on the standardized exam, it is dropped from the exam and replaced with a new question, regardless of the content or rigor of the question.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:55:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Right (7+ / 0-)

              plus, when they norm the draft version of the test, any question that too many students get right is thrown out.

              Also, any question that "low performing" students do better on than "high performers" is also thrown out.  That's how they make scores fit a nice bell curve.

              Your end of the Constitution is sinking.

              by happymisanthropy on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:29:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I had a tour of instructor duty in the service (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, caul

                Our test questions were given a DI and VI; difficulty index and validity index, after discounting the top and bottom 10% of test scores. Difficulty index is obvious. Validity index takes a bit more explaining. If too many of the top students answered incorrectly odds are they were reading something into the question or the answers other than what was intended. Either the question or the answers needed to be addressed.

                The test center had a library of questions to choose from to built the tests and could design the tests to produce the desired bell curve. I'm not certain that approach would work as well outside of the military. We didn't have the political and financial motivations that might lead to the corruption we see in the public schools.

                Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

                by Just Bob on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:44:20 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  but that assumes (6+ / 0-)

                  that a bell curve is "right" in the first place.  The accuracy statistics for a test require a bell curve, so a bell curve it is... but just because the tests were adjusted to create a bell curve does not mean that the bell curve is a valid representation of the ability levels of students.

                  Your end of the Constitution is sinking.

                  by happymisanthropy on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:51:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  True that (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    qofdisks, Linda Wood, caul

                    I don't know how much has changed in the last few decades. At the time the military assumed a high dropout rate in many of their schools. The idea was to promote the "best and the brightest".

                    That was already beginning to change by the early 70's. Cost cutting reduced basic electronics school from 38 weeks to 6 weeks. It blew my mind and was one of the considerations leading to my getting out of the military.

                    We have sacrificed much on the alter of cost cutting throughout society. Whereas military technical training was once highly sought after by private industry, now schools such as  ITT Tech are the standard. We see that even to a greater degree as Wall Street has become involved in education. The managerial and investor classes rule and their own bottom line is more important than any other result.

                    Oh well...I'm just an old man rambling.

                    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

                    by Just Bob on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:39:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Precisely, and also (6+ / 0-)

                    it makes it impossible to "win the game" if the game is 100% proficiency. A test that gave the result of 100% proficiency would be thrown out and rebuilt. The process does not allow the bell curve to be completely above the cut score, regardless of the skills of the students.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 01:53:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I think most of the statewide (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, ladybug53

          tests are now criterion-referenced.  Teachers participate in workshops to set the cutscores.

          There are still some norm referenced tests in use but most of the high stakes statewide tests are criterion referenced.

          •  yes and no (13+ / 0-)

            the problem is while the teachers are involved in setting cut scores - in SOME states -  the test makers pick the items used and still construct the tests to spread out the scores as if they were norm-referenced.

            Since you mention cut scores -  in Virginia when they first set the cut scores for the American History tests for SOLs, rather than taking the middle of the range of expert opinions ( a la modified Angoff) they set the cut score higher than the highest expert.  Naturally the first round of test scores showed students doing horribly.  In fact, except for Thomas Jefferson, all of Fairfax County high schools were shown as performing miserably.

            For the next year, the cut score was lowered, and then the state claimed its approach was working - look at the improvement in the scores reported:  which were SCALED scores representing no real difference in underlying performance.

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:44:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  good points (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob, ladybug53

              in reality there is only so much spreading out they can do given a fixed cutscore.

              going higher than the highest rater is a problem.  Usually a state will consider measurement error and rater error in looking at the mean of ratings to set a cut. they also consider the relative impacts of false negatives and false positives in setting a cutscore.

              I don't understand the last example you gave.  They lowered the underlying cut, and left the scaled cut the same?  so that would mean more would pass but the average score would not increase?

              •  let me clarify (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elfling, Just Bob

                they changed the cut score then shifted ALL scale scores accordingly.

                hypothetical example

                raw score   1st scaled scores    2nd scaled scores

                76                   350                     400
                72                   320                     380
                68                   270                     360  
                66                   250                     340

                Cut score appears as a scaled score of 340 or higher

                in 1st set of scaled scores, students needed a raw score of 75 to get that scaled score.

                in 2nd sec, students only needed a raw score of 66 -  all scaled scores are now higher for the same raw score

                does that help?

                "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:43:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  got it. so basically they admitted (0+ / 0-)

                  they made a mistake and tried to fix it ?  If they tried to claim there was "growth" that would be bogus.

                  •  they tried to claim there was growth (4+ / 0-)

                    given that the only thing normally released to the public in some states is the scaled score, one does not see the manipulations being one.

                    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                    by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:57:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This is what Diane Ravitch documented (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Just Bob, Be Skeptical, cocinero

                      in The Death and Life of the Great American School System, systematic manipulation of results by district political and administrative leadership in order to show progress where none was made.

                      How can anyone support our schools having such craven leadership where it exists?

                      Does this widespread, documented corruption within school districts across the country, such as you are acknowledging in your comments here, not alarm you about our schools' effectiveness, especially with respect to lower income children and the achievement gap? Do you begin to understand why so many parents advocate reform? Do you think the abuse of children's rights and well being stops at test scores? If you see how corrupt this system is, do you not consider it possible that the curriculum itself is abusive and corrupt?

                      •  umm, I have been writing online about education (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        DFWmom, cocinero, TRsCousin

                        first in list servs, then only later in blogs, since at least 1992.  I have been writing here at Daily Kos on education since 2004.

                        I have regularly tried to present a lot of alternative beyond the current structure of schools and curriculum, and included Marion Brady on a panel in Chicago which explored totally rethinking American schooling.

                        I have written about how our structure of school is in itself contrary to the notion that one purpose of public schools, going back at least to Jefferson, was to prepare people to be active participants in our liberal democracy (those two words are the poly sci description of our form of government, at least on paper).

                        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                        by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:34:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You and E.D. Hirsch, then, (0+ / 0-)

                          agree on the Jeffersonian goal.

                          Earlier in this thread, you say,

                          ... in Virginia when they first set the cut scores for the American History tests for SOLs, rather than taking the middle of the range of expert opinions ( a la modified Angoff) they set the cut score higher than the highest expert.  Naturally the first round of test scores showed students doing horribly...

                          For the next year, the cut score was lowered, and then the state claimed its approach was working...

                          Is this a vindication of the assertion that testing children is bad?

                          Or is this a vindication of the assertion that the APPROACH, which I assume refers to the state's method of teaching, was not working and that the state's educational leadership acted to mislead the public about it?

                          Teachers, administrators, and state educational leaders who would change proficiency standards or actual test scores in order to mislead the public do not belong in the public schools. It is not inevitable that crimes of this kind will be committed because children in our schools are tested.

                          Are you saying, in your comment above, in which you describe a violation of the public trust in the manipulation of testing, that you agree with William Ayers that, "The deeper problem is reducing education to a single narrow metric that claims to recognize an educated person through a test score"?

                          •  I agree with Ayers on the bold words (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TRsCousin

                            and no where have I ever said that testing children is bad

                            it depends on the test and the purpose for which it is used

                            what I have argued, and numerous peer reviewed studies back me up on this, are the following

                            -  we are testing too much

                            -  because of the stakes we put on tests, it distorts the educational process

                            -  we are using the results of test in way that is neither valid or in most cases not even reliable, in part because the tests were not designed for that purpose

                            - the way some tests have been implement strongly implies an ulterior motive beyond accurate measurement of what students know and can do

                            -  much of what we are seeing in educational policy seems clearly intended to try to show public schools as failing and thus transfer some of the hundreds of billions of tax dollars spent in public education into private hands - that some of these hands are ostensibly non-profit does not mean that profit motivation is excluded - far from it

                            - we have known for some time and not just in education that when you put high stakes on a social measure, of which tests are an example, you distort the meaning of any results you get.  Campbell's law in now almost 4 decades old

                            - we have been following a path of "more rigor" and "higher standards" and "data driven instruction" and so on now for 3 full decades, without it even improving the test scores, much less actually improving learning

                            tests when properly designed  and connected to the curriculum can provide useful feedback.  Tests used to drive the curriculum distort learning.

                            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                            by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:51:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  IIRC there are several examples of this (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tardis10, happymisanthropy, Just Bob

                    being passed off as growth. I think New York did this as well.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:00:55 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  That is sometimes claimed (3+ / 0-)

            but imagine if 80% of all kids scored proficient on the test. Are you certain that they'd keep the cut score at the same place, confident in their criterion-referenced number?

            Typically, questions that have too high a rate of correct answers are dropped from the exam.

            There is the opposite pressure too - because of NCLB sanctions, in some states the cut score is set artificially low, at the rate of random guessing.

            Of course each state has its own political pressure and reactions.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:59:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  one of the many many flaws of (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob, cocinero, Linda Wood

              NCLB is that it purports to set national standards but it does not.  It allows states to set their own and only requires that 80% eventually reach "proficient".  so yes, clearly some states are gaming the system and setting very low cutscores.  It is a sham.  But then again, NCLB was a sham from the beginning, and many academics in education and testing/evaluation were very critical of it from the start.  Of course they were not listened to.  they were only experts.  NCLB is one of the biggest mistakes Ted Kennedy ever made.

              •  wrong!!! (4+ / 0-)

                NCLB required 100% proficiency by 2014 in Reading and Math, and any school that fell below the glide path for that for a single subgroup in any grade on only 1 of these -  sya 4th grade Hispanics in Reading - was considered to have failed to make Adequate YEarly Progress.

                Also, if you failed to test 95% of the students in each subgroup, you failed AYP, even if the scores from those tested exceeded the required score necessary to maintain AYP.

                "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:36:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  so just to be clear, the only part (0+ / 0-)

                  of my comment that is wrong is that NCLB actually requires 100% proficient by 2014, not 80%, right?  Or are there other things I am missing here?  Thanks

                  •  that is only part I chose to address (5+ / 0-)

                    you miss a great deal of how the system was gamed as well.  States got to set the size of their disaggregated groups for reporting, and some got VERY CREATIVE to mask how poorly they were doing.

                    And the 100% proficiency is critical because everyone knew it was an impossibility unless the proficiency level was set very low, but how can you sell 87% proficient by 2014?  The entire model was flawed, and anyone with brain understood that.

                    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                    by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 01:28:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ken! (0+ / 0-)

                      Rahm Emmanuel's going to love this!

                      ... you miss a great deal of how the system was gamed as well.  States got to set the size of their disaggregated groups for reporting, and some got VERY CREATIVE to mask how poorly they were doing.
                      Are you sure this diary is going to encourage American parents to oppose testing? Or are they more likely as a result of your observations to oppose the public schools as they are now constituted and operated?
                  •  I have some recollection that Ted Kennedy (0+ / 0-)

                    repudiated the final form of NCLB.

                    I could be wrong, but that is what I remember.

        •  Private, parochial & charter schools are exempt (6+ / 0-)

          from state tests. If you are going to subsidize private and parochial schools by giving families vouchers, wouldn't it be reasonable to actually see if they are actually equal to or better to public schools. Some are much better, but most are the same or far worse. And that is the biggest scam in this massive grift, to shift taxpayer money to substandard schools under the guise of helping students and those horrible "failing" schools. I see you "help" those schools and those communities by syphoning money out of the system and putting elsewhere that might actually be worse.

          About 15 years ago, I was working for a company that provided all the computer classes for parochial schools within the Archdiocese of Boston. I was working at three different schools in three different neighborhoods. One school in Jamaica Plain was ethnically diverse with large blocks of black, white, and hispanic students; another in South Boston was exclusively white; and the third school in Roxbury was about 80% black.

          Which school was the worst IMO? That would be the all-white school in Southie.Why? There were books in the library that were so outdated that landing on the moon was still being discussed theoretically. I shit you not.

          •  not correct on charters in most states (5+ / 0-)

            because they directly receive public funds they must apply the state tests.

            When students attend non-public schools on vouchers, that does not apply.

            There is even a move now to exempt charters from Common Core and from tests, which will make them publicly funded but totally non-public in governance and oversight.

            Too many charters are shown as NOT effective by those tests.

            "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

            by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:00:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  All schools and all students... (0+ / 0-)

              ...should be subject to the same tests.

              States can legally compel students to attend school, there is no reason why they should not be able to compel them to take a test.

              •  yes there is (3+ / 0-)

                first, you cannot legally compel them to attend school.  They can be home-schooled

                And the logic of the Supreme Court case that established the right to opt out of attending public schools also supports the refusal of schools not directly funded at least in part by taxes from being subject to any educational mandate.

                Where states/feds can impose is health and safety, which
                is why all who work with kids including in non-public schools can be subjected to background checks as a condition of working with kids.

                But the same way rules about discrimination on admitting students on the basis of race or religion do not apply legally to non-public schools, the reach of government into such schools is limited in all matters academic.

                "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:01:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Part of the debate over reform (0+ / 0-)

                  in education in our country is whether or not there is, or should be, any reach of government into PUBLIC schools in matters academic.

                  I know, that's subject matter for another diary.

                  •  Constitutionally reserved for the states (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Linda Wood

                    if I'm not mistaken.
                    I'm surprised that strict constructionists haven't been more voluble about this.

                    •  some were (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Linda Wood

                      after all, originally Reagan wanted to abolish the cabinet department

                      feds get involved primarily as a condition of aid - insofar as they offer funds to states/localities, they can constitutionally set the rules about using those funds.

                      Absent something like a civil rights or civil liberties issue, states could simply refuse the funds and not be subject to federal rules

                      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                      by teacherken on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:49:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thanks for the clarification (0+ / 0-)

                        Money, obviously, makes lots of objections go away.
                        Didn't Utah decline to pursue RTTT funds?
                        Thank you for this Diary--I have spent years fuming about this stuff.
                        To my amazement, it was very hard to interest many of my colleagues or fellow grad school students (in educational leadership, yet!) in the political nature of what was happening, or the need for a political response.

                        •  Utah was going to pull out of NCLB (0+ / 0-)

                          which would have embarrassed the hell of out the Bush administration, so Mike Leavitt was ordered to DC, whereupon he was offered the position of Secretary of HHS.  You figure out why that happened.

                          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                          by teacherken on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 04:30:25 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

          •  Approved non-public schools in Iowa (0+ / 0-)

            must give the state tests. That included nearly all parochial schools.

        •  Back in the 80s and early 90s (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites, Orinoco, Just Bob

          in suburban philly public schools, we took tests about every 2-3 years, and it was used in "tracking" us into honors, standard, or remedial classes.  It was never the sole criteria.

          A test that can be gamed, therefore, is not a good test.  I suppose, as with the LSAT, there could be some virtue of practicing the skills that go into the test, but that's just "learning."  That  summer, if i didn't have the prep book, I'd have just done crosswords at the car dealership summer job.   And my experience taking the LSAT (my car broke down the morning of; I ran from Ardmore to Villanova and was tireder than expected by the end and did about two points worse than i had been doing in practice but still too high to bother retaking it) is an absurd illustration of the following problem -- what if the week they're doing testing, the kid's not getting enough food.

          I'll say this:  find out if they test the beginning or end of the month, for people on public assistance.  That's an indicator of whether they're designing them for schools and teachers to fail, or at least are indifferent to other needs.

          This is an area where I am the most critical of the administration, but politically, it would have been suicidal for Obama not to distance himself from Ayers.  It would have been better had Ayres attacked him earlier, but that invitation couldn't have come from the campaign, directly.  (Understand the issue with Ayers wasn't his education views; it was the stupid 1960s re-fights Obama gave us some hope of avoiding.)  These are public figures and it's not beanbag.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:17:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's exactly right. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, Linda Wood, Cassandra Waites

          Standardized tests were not, at least in the beginning, designed to measure teaching or schools. Some of the people involved in developing the Iowa tests (ITBS & ITED) objected to the misuse of the tests.

          Iowa schools used the Iowa tests to meet federal NCLB requirements. (Iowa was reluctant to comply, but they didn't want to forgo the federal dollars.) They had to come up with a test score cut off considered "proficient." Using a norm-referenced test for a criterion-referenced purpose was one of the objections of the measurement experts.

          For the "proficient" cut score, the state chose the 40th percentile on national norms, i.e. a score that only 60% of students in the national norm group were able to meet or exceed. According to NCLB, by 2014, 100% of students in a school had to be proficient, or the school would be labeled "failing." State education officials at the time said this was crazy. They hoped Congress would fix this ridiculous law.

          •  That is crazy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            Math innumeracy is epidemic among politicians.

            As a side note, my son recently took the Iowa test (ITBS) as one of the requirements for admission to a magnet high school in Georgia.  Because his current school didn't give the complete test, he had to take it at home, so I got to peek at the questions.  I was actually quite impressed with the test.  I believe it truly measures important dimensions of competency for those students who are not paralyzed by multiple-choice tests.  It was also useful for me to review his scores afterwards to ID areas that he might need to work on.  And boy, every subtest had some tough questions.  I liked seeing that.

            •  Yes, the ITBS is a very good test, technically. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites

              It is reliable, and the items are selected to do a good job of producing a distribution of scores. Items that are too easy for all students or too difficult are eliminated.

              One consequence is that the test generally doesn't match the curriculum taught in the schools. If it did, scores would be higher. For example, the fourth grade test will have some items not generally taught until 5th or 6th grade. That produces a spread at the top end of students who are doing work above grade level. That's O.K. unless the test is used to judge the 4th grade teacher's performance -- something the test was never designed to do.

              My other objection, is that the math problem solving subtest only consists of "problems" that can be solved by doing computation in 60 seconds or less and choosing from among 4 given alternatives. That's a small subset of the kind of math problems people need to be able to solve. There is no measurement or data collection or looking at a real problem and seeing how (or if) math can help with the solution. Computation is the easiest part of problem solving.

              •  The ITBS math section (0+ / 0-)

                was only 1/3 computation.  The other 2 sections involved mathematical reasoning, data  interpretation, geometry, basic algebra (with only simple computation needed), etc.  

                I agree that these tests are definitely not suitable for assessment of schools or teachers, as many of the questions, as you mentioned, are aimed at high-end students who are working well above grade level.  I did find the grade level scores useful on an individual level though.

        •  Actually, I don't think that the way test (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood

          scores are used under NCLB in my state is norm-referenced.  I think it is criterion-referenced and the standard for success if 100%,i.e. if, in 2014, all students are not equally successful in reaching a standard, the school and the teachers fail.  Well, there never was a school in which all students were equally successful, so all schools and teachers will ultimately fail.  This is the testing scheme about which I comment.

          The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

          by helfenburg on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 03:45:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Which leads to a rush to privatize education (4+ / 0-)

      As with some other conservative policies there is triangulation when it comes to school testing. The goals of tying teachers to the test performance of their students are to deny funds for "failing" schools under NCLB; weaken teacher unions (where applicable); and replace public schools with charter schools and school vouchers.

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