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View Diary: Education: Manifesto versus Manifesto (113 comments)

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  •  Universally recognized ... (0+ / 0-)

    Good luck with that.

    We can't get our state to have a consistent set of standards from one year to the next.

    I ask two business men what they expect and I get two different answers. And that's in math. Social studies and history? Forget it. Some want just the facts. Others want courses in patriotism. A few want history to include common people. Others want us to praise famous men.

    You want regurgitation of facts that can be assessed easily with multiple choice tests, or do you want demostrations of original thinking and creativity that reuire more in depth anaysis?

    If you truly believe that there is a universally recognized body of knowledge then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I can sell you at a very reasonable price.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sat Oct 09, 2010 at 09:39:44 PM PDT

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    •  I'd like to add to your points (0+ / 0-)

      those who believe there is a universally recognized body of knowledge also argue for national standards and by implication national assessments.  The efforts by states for Common Core Standards were begun without input either from teachers or from the content area professional associations.  Many experts will tell you that some of the English standards put certain things at too low a level based on what we know about the development of students intellectually.  We might aspire to have younger students do things, but they simply might not yet be able to handle the content.  

      In previous attempts at voluntary national standards, especially in social studies, the process became totally politicized.  Here I note that many states require the glorification of the capitalist system without any balance about its weaknesses and destructiveness, things which required the Federal government to pass legislation against trusts, for pure food and drugs, to prevent favoritism in setting rates for rail transport, and the like.   Few states require the teaching of labor history, so that students grow up not realizing that things like the 8 hour day, 5 day week, paid vacations and holidays, did not magically appear and were not given out of the generosity of business owners and managers.  

      The emphasis on multiple choice tests has many other problems.  I am not going to address all of them in one comment.  Hell, I have written multiple diaries here and elsewhere on problems without exhausting all of the issues.

      One last point.  Most of the tests are high stakes, but are NOT properly standardized.  That is an entirely different issue. Even the simple act of setting cut scores - the raw score which represents passing - is a highly political act, something that was seen in American History in Virginia, where it was originally set very high.  But what is reported to students and parents and the public is a scaled score.  The conversion from raw score to scaled score can be and often is manipulated, so that people can make claims not justified by the underlying data - such as Joel Klein claiming a success in NY Schools that was a simple artifact of manipulating that conversion, which when corrected - state-wide, I might note - showed that NY schools during his tenure did NOT make significant progress.

      One time tests, and comparisons such as those of NCLB of different cohorts of students are very much artifacts of the characteristics of the collection of individual students.  Even value-added assessment does not fully correct for that problem.  If one is attempting to classify teachers based on a Value-Added methodology as either superior or inferior, a recent study done by Mathematica for the US Department of Education found that with 2 yeas of data there was a 36% error rate of classification, with three years 26%, and even with ten years - which is rarely available for any teacher - there was still a 12% error rate.

      Our tests are not accurate enough to be making the high stakes decisions we do about students.  And if not accurate enough for that purpose, it makes no sense to use the student results as a measurement of what the teacher has done.

      Let me be blunt.  Last year my AP pass rate was 66%.  The previous year it was 78%.  Was I that much worse a teacher?  How about the previous year we had no snow days and only two 2-hour late arrivals, whereas last year we had 9 snow days, 3 2-hour late arrivals, and two 3-hour early dismissals (in which I did not even see one of my three AP classes).  There were also some differences in the makeup of the classes as well.  

      Or I will look at my one year teaching in a Virginia middle school.  The previous year the school's pass rate (on a test that did not carry stakes for the students) was 58%.  The year I was there the other two teachers were 1st year, and it was the 1st year I taught that curriculum (2nd half of US history).  They were tested on all of American history, meaning the tests measured what they may have learned the previous year when we were not teaching them, and included whatever prior knowledge or outside learning they had.   Our year 81% passed.  Sounds spectacular, eh?  Except the state had recalibrated the cut score.  The previous year, if restated, would have been a 71% pass rate.  My own pass rate was 89%.  Two of my best students did not sit because they were out sick, and since it had no stakes for them they did not have to make it up.  One student who "failed" always did poorly when taking a test in a room with other students.  When I allowed her to take tests in a room with only me to oversee she regularly got As.  Was her score a measure of what she knew or an artifact of her severe test anxiety?  The state would not allow her to have accommodations on that test.  

      I'm sorry.  Tests do not provide the kind of information necessary for the weight we wish to place on them.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 03:10:28 AM PDT

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      •  No need to apologize ... (0+ / 0-)

        even as a rhetorical device.

        We are looking for a quick fix. I see this even among my administrative cohorts ...who should know better. We are extremely busy. We have dozens of mostly mind-numbing reports to churn out. We deal with the everyday issues that arise in every school.

        We are expected to evaluate each teacher every year. We are now required to use "student achievement"(read "student test scores") as a factor in evaluation. Since the State of Michigan is moving toward results that include the gain or loss for each student and for a class as a whole, it will become increasingly easier to simply use the state test results to evaluate teachers; which of course is precisely what Mike Flannagan and the MDE want.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 07:33:48 AM PDT

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