is the title of this followup blog post by Valerie Strauss, who yesterday posted the story by Marion Brady of the school board member who, having taking Florida's FCAT test and done poorly, was criticizing them.
I am going to suggest you read this followup piece as well. As Strauss writes about Rick Roach, the board member who has now gone public,
Roach, the father of five children and grandfather of two, was a teacher, counselor and coach in Orange County for 14 years. He was first elected to the board in 1998 and has been reelected three times. A resident of Orange County for three decades, he has a bachelor of science degree in education and two masters degrees: in education and educational psychology. He has trained over 18,000 educators in classroom management and course delivery skills in six eastern states over the last 25 years.
In other words, he is not just some random adult taking the test, but a skilled and experienced educator.
Please keep reading.
As Strauss writes,
*He said he understands why so many students who can actually read well do poorly on the FCAT.
“Many of the kids we label as poor readers are probably pretty good readers. Here’s why.
“On the FCAT, they are reading material they didn’t choose. They are given four possible answers and three out of the four are pretty good. One is the best answer but kids don’t get points for only a pretty good answer. They get zero points, the same for the absolute wrong answer. And then they are given an arbitrary time limit. Those are a number of reasons that I think the test has to be suspect.”
He then explores those reasons. I will get back to Strauss in a moment. Roach is focusing on much of what is wrong with the tests we use - the artificial time limits, no partial credit for a second best answer (which in reading texts is highly relevant to developing understanding).
There is more - the key part of Roach's assessment is in this paragraph:
“There’s a concept called reverse design that is critical,” he said. “We are violating that with our test. Instead of connecting what we learn in school with being successful in the real world, we are doing it in reverse. We are testing first and then kids go into the real world. Whether the information they have learned is important or not becomes secondary. If you really did a study on what math most kids need, I guarantee you could probably dump about 80 percent of math scores and leave high-level math for the kids who want it and will need it.
That's absolutely spot-on. Our tests have little connection to the real world, and are unfairly excluding too many of our young people from advancing in life and contributing to our society.
Or perhaps I should simply offer what Roach has to say about the FCAT tests, and those (like Jeb Bush) who argue for their use, “They are defending a test that has no accountability.”
Not only that, they are having the effect of destroying the future for many of our young people.
Kudos to Rick Roach, Marion Brady, and Valerie Strauss.
And btw, Valerie has let people know the first column has gone viral. Hopefully this one will as well.