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

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  •  We Are Not Treating Our Children Well (17+ / 0-)

    Here is what we are doing:

    We have turned our nation's kids into child laborers under a compulsory scheme where they work all day to benefit adults.

    The product of their labor is "test scores" -- something that has no instrinsic value except to the adults who create the scoring systems, administer the tests, grade the kids, evaluate the results and use them to further their political agenda:

    Which is mostly busting teachers' unions, privatizing schools and diverting public school money to private corporations.

    It's shameful, what we've done.

    Parents used to be able to tell their kids, "Study hard, so you will be prepared for the life ahead of you!"

    Now they can tell them, "Study hard, so you can produce test scores that other people will use to their advantage -- and, likely, eventually against you."

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 05:27:02 AM PDT

    •  Test scores are an artificial form of capital (6+ / 0-)

      in a largely artificial economy, both of which are vastly inflated. Makes perfect sense, then, that this would be happening. I'd be shocked if it weren't.

      The rot is top-down and systemic. Some are more competent and "nicer", but they're all corrupt. You can't be in power and not be so.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:24:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How can you say... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood

      ...that test scores have no intrinsic value?

      1) Are you saying that high Math scores are not correlated with a good understanding of Mathematics?

      2) Are you saying that high Reading (or "language arts") scores are not correlated with kids reading well?

      If you are saying either of these things, please provide some evidence.

      •  It all depends on the tests, doesn't it? Which is, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken

        of course, the core of the argument.

        Since you are proposing this strawman argument, let's turn it around.

        Are you proposing that the current testing regime actually produces relevant results, and not simply a strong correlation to income level?

        If so, please provide some evidence that effectively refutes all the studies to the contrary.

        •  Here ya go. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical, Linda Wood

          From a huge study of nearly a quarter-million students:

          "...even a score of 2 out of a possible 5 points on an AP exam correlates with better college performance than that achieved by students who did not take AP or who skipped the AP exam..."
          Now this doesn't prove everything. For example do college grades signify "knowledge"? Maybe not, but it is probably the best measure we have. Have you got a better one?

          I will also admit that not every test is as good as the AP. There are a lot of crappy tests out there that need to be targeted and ended.

          Lastly, we need to address the fact that these tests correlate with income. In the USA, everything correlates with income. The tests predict that rich kids will learn more because (drumroll...) rich kids actually do learn more!

          Rich kids have parents who read to them, they get interesting summer experiences, and they don't have to dodge gang-fights on the way home from band practice. Tests show that rich kids are better-prepared because the inequality in our society makes them better prepared.

          Complaining that tests accurately reflect the ugly truth about our society is just shooting the messenger.

          •  AP tests are *not* the current testing regime, and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            you are quite aware of that fact. The current testing regime is not remotely similar to the AP battery, and is not used for similar purposes, at all. To submit this as evidence is just admitting that you cannot support your own position that the current testing regime is a benefit to public education.

            Nice to know.

            •  No, but the AP... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linda Wood

              ...proves that designing a "good test" is possible.

              This silences the Defenders of the Establishment who want to use the existence of bad tests as an (intellectually dishonest) excuse to get rid of all tests.

              If you don't like the current tests, fine. Substitute better tests. But lets end the fantasy that it is impossible to measure what a kid has learned.

              •  So you have nothing relevant to support your (0+ / 0-)

                apparent contention that the current nation-wide strategy of administering high stakes tests for the purpose of evaluating both students and teachers is, in fact, a good way to improve public education?

                All you have is "It is possible for good tests to be designed"?

                And actually, no serious defender of education wants to abolish all tests. That appears to be an imagined construct of your very own, which you can certainly argue against all you like.

                What people serious about education want to eliminate are poor tests that are not used for their appropriate purposes, which is what the current testing regime consists of.

                And, again, you know all this. You simply don't find it convenient to acknowledge it, as it limits your ability to argue in poor faith for the purpose of promoting privatized education and denigrating public education.

                •  You say, (0+ / 0-)
                  no serious defender of education wants to abolish all tests. That appears to be an imagined construct of your very own.
                  Isn't this the emphatic point of this diary?
                  If nothing else, remember these words from the letter from Bill Ayers:

                  'The deeper problem is reducing education to a single narrow metric that claims to recognize an educated person through a test score. Teaching toward a simple standardized measure and relentlessly applying state-administered (but privately developed and quite profitable) tests to determine the “outcomes” both incentivizes cheating and is a worthless proxy for learning.'

                  I apologize if I misunderstand these statements, but from my perspective they suggest that public school corruption and cheating by administrators is incentivized by testing itself, described as "the deeper problem."

                  Or is it the word, "relentless" that is the key? Yes, I agree, ENDLESS, CONSTANT, RELENTLESS, REDUNDANT, UNNECESSARY, REPEATED, NEVER-ENDING, POINTLESS, MINDLESS, MEANINGLESS TESTING would be a problem.

                  And if that's what's happening in some or all of our states, as recommended by state leadership, or in some districts, as implemented by leadership, then, yes, I agree, these testing regimes are bullshit and are intended to destroy meaningful reform and to destroy public education.

                  But please realize that when the heavy hitters at this site want us to take Ayers' statement to heart, testing is being identified as the problem.

                  •  Not 'testing'. The regime of testing that (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    teacherken, Cassandra Waites

                    presupposes that high stakes standardized tests will reveal all important, relevant information about the student and the teacher, yet has been shown to do nothing of the kind.

                    Testing, as a means of discovering student progress, is fine. We've used such methods for many years, in conjunction with other, more qualitative measures.

                    Don't make the mistake of conflating the two situations.

                    I actually find it hard to believe you didn't understand this from reading Ayers' letter.

          •  you are changing grounds (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            first, as you at least imply, correlation does not indicate causation.  Thus even the AP score does not in itself represent learning during the course or effectiveness of the teaching, merely what the student can do at that moment, which itself is often heavily influenced by and correlated with non-school factors.

            second, I have written about AP here many times, as one who taught an AP subject for 7 years and Read (scored) the free response questions several times.  An AP score is a scaled score derived by spreading out the raw scores over a curve.  It is mathematically possibly to get a "passing" (3) score with less than 50% of the possible raw points, something that would not be considered acceptable in most colleges.

            third,  because the score is scaled, you can have the anomaly of a free response question which represents 12.5% of the raw score of the test where the average grade is one out of six possible points on the rubric, and yet some of those student who got that score still "passed" the exam.   In fact, in 2011 two of the four questions had average scores like that, but it did not result in overall lower AP scores, because of how the raw scores are scaled.

            FINally, and this is most important -  for very few teachers or students does the score on an AP exam affect respectively compensation or graduation.  There are stakes, but they are not of the same manner as the kinds of tests being used for high stakes purposes -  for both students and teachers.  And those tests are often of far lesser quality than are those used for AP purposes.

            But even on AP we see the distortion, first by all the schools adding AP courses and pushing students to take the test to score more highly on the Challenge Index of Jay Mathews.  Second, the College Board itself profits not just by administering the test, but also by the sale of text-prep materials, sometimes directly to students (and their parents), sometimes through licensing to test prep companies.

            MOre than a few AP subjects tend to force broad coverage of too much detail and not enough depth.  

            "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 12:08:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Point-by-point. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linda Wood
              "First, as you at least imply, correlation does not indicate causation"
              We know the effect of non-school factors on learning. There arehuge stacks of research documenting it.  Just take what the kid actually knows and subtract what The Research predicts he should know.  What's left is the effect of the school.
              "It is mathematically possibly to get a "passing" (3) score with less than 50% of the possible raw points..."

              "...you can have the anomaly of a free response question which represents 12.5% of the raw score..."

              If the test is so flaky, why does it correlate so strongly with success? If you get a test full of particularly tough questions, maybe 50% is pretty good! The facts are that 2 years later, the kids' college professors validate those "3s". Doesn't that deserve respect?
              "...There are stakes, but they are not of the same manner...And those tests are often of far lesser quality than are those used for AP purposes."
              So, if you don't like the tests used for high-stakes decisions, use better ones. The AP has proven that good tests can be designed.
              "...we see the distortion, first by all the schools adding AP courses and pushing students to take the test to score more highly on the Challenge Index..."
              If the AP program correlates with better prepared kids as the research shows, isn't that a Good Thing? Don't you want as many kids as possible exposed to something that will help them in college?
              "More than a few AP subjects tend to force broad coverage of too much detail and not enough depth."
              Prove it.
              Prove it.
              Prove it.

              The college profs who hand out the grades keep giving high ones to AP kids. If you say these guys are wrong, we need to see some alternate data.

              The study I'm citing has a sample size of 222,000. So please don't bring anecdotes and I-have-a-colleague stories to this party.

              This last point gets to a broader problem that the Entrenched Educational Establishment suffers from.  You guys can't just point at kids and say, "That kid learned a lot", or "That kid didn't learn much".  We need to have a standard-based, objective measure of learning.

              •  I have provided the data (0+ / 0-)

                which you ignore

                just like you ignore the fact that increasingly high quality colleges are stopping giving credit for AP

                you can beat your hobby horse all you want and selectively pick which examples you cite while ignoring all the others that have been presented to you, multiple times, by multiple people, and not just on this thread.

                And by the way, what you simply do not get is that evaluating by performance assessment IS standards based.

                "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 12:37:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Saying that tests... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          ...are just proxies for income is like saying Olympic Medals are just proxies for practice and training.

          Rich kids get better educations.

          Complaining that tests accurately reflect the ugly truth about our society is just shooting the messenger.

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