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pencil filling out standardized test
Teachers at two Seattle high schools are standing up and saying "no" to a deeply flawed mandatory standardized test, the Measures of Academy Progress.

Teachers at Garfield High kicked off the rebellion when they said they would refuse to administer the MAP to their students. Then, 25 teachers at Ballard High followed suit with an anti-MAP statement. Both groups of teachers focus not on opposition to all testing, but to the MAP specifically, which they argue is too flawed to use. According to the Garfield teachers:

  • Seattle Public School staff has notified us that the test is not a valid test at the high school level. For these students, the margin of error is greater than the expected gain. We object to spending time, money, and staffing on an assessment even SPS agrees is not valid.
  • We are not allowed to see the contents of the test, but an analysis of the alignment between the Common Core and MAP shows little overlap. We object to our students being tested on content we are not expected to teach.
  • Ninth graders and students receiving extra support (ELL, SPED, and students in math support) are targets of the MAP test. These students are in desperate need of MORE instructional time. Instead, the MAP test subtracts many hours of class time from students’ schedules each year. If we were to participate this year, we would take 805 students out of class during 112 class periods. The amount of lost instructional time is astounding. On average students would EACH lose 320 minutes of instructional time. This is over 5 hours of CORE class time (language arts and math) that students are losing. We object to participating in stealing instructional time from the neediest students.
The Ballard teachers point out that:
The MAP test was purchased under corrupt crony-ist circumstances (Our former superintendent, while employed by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) sat on the corporation board of NWEA, the purveyor of the MAP test. This was undisclosed to her employer. The initial MAP test was purchased in a no-bid, non-competitive process.) [...]

The MAP test is not taken seriously by students, (They don’t need the results for graduation, for applications, for course credit, or any other purpose, so they routinely blow it off.)

While this opposition is specifically to the MAP and its many huge problems, the rebellion points to problems common to many standardized tests. As Jerry Neufeld-Kaiser, a social studies teacher at Garfield, wrote to the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss:
Standardized tests CAN be an okay way to assess student learning, but many of the tests that get used have serious flaws. These problems are in no way unique to the MAP test. There is considerable research that shows convincingly that high-stakes standardized tests often have cultural bias, including class and race biases. And so on.

The problem we have today is we don’t have a really good test that we can trust. Yet we need one, because of the advantages of standardization, including the cost and ease of administering them (compared to, say, debates). So we use the tests we have, despite their flaws.

The MAP appears to be a perfect storm of the problems with standardized testing: put in place through a corrupt, profit-driven process; with an unacceptably high margin of error; not measuring the things students are actually supposed to be learning; and taking needed time away from instructional time in order for students to take a test they don't take seriously. But while its problems may be especially large, they're not unique. What these teachers are doing in saying no to the MAP is brave, it's in their students' best interests, and it's yet another demonstration of how badly teachers' voices are needed in the broader education policy debate.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:04 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Teachers Lounge, Koscadia, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (117+ / 0-)
  •  So if we're going to have standardized tests (19+ / 0-)

    the Department of Education should develop them and rigorously test them, and mandate that every school district either use their test or no standardized test at all.

    Cause wingnut head explosions as they have to choose between a hateful Federal Government test, and losing out on the opportunity to at least have the tests administered and graded by their cronies.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:53:26 AM PST

    •  Pity the NEA feels the opposite way. (3+ / 2-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Rich in PA, Dogs are fuzzy
      Hidden by:
      divineorder, leftangler

      The NEA was responsible for lobbying to assure that federally standardized tests didn't make it in the original bill.

      Of course, their position, along with most of the other teacher's lobbies, is that teachers shouldn't have any kind of objective evaluation.

      •  I think you are thinking that the purpose of the (9+ / 0-)

        test is to evaluate teachers, when, I think the purpose of a test is to evaluate student learning, which, I am not sure, but I think that would be the NEA position as well.

        •  Although the purpose of the MAP test is (6+ / 0-)

          ostensibly to measure student learning, you can be guaranteed that school boards and/or politicians will eventually require that it be used in determining teacher salaries and/or teacher dismissals.  At my college, student evaluations were originally instituted as a way of "improving instruction by examining the students' perspectives."  A few years later, one of my untenured colleagues (who was disliked by the chairperson) was fired after a handful of negative comments from a class of over 150.  Those negative from nine students (less than six percent of the class) were cited as the prime reason for firing this person.

        •  If the test measures things (8+ / 0-)

          teachers are not expected to teach, and then their evaluations are partly based on them, how is that remotely rational?

          Jon Husted is a dick.

          by anastasia p on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:46:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  wrong. we are told in school by administration (0+ / 0-)

          in no uncertain terms; the tests are there to evaluate the teachers, so if the kids fail it's the teacher's fault.I am not a teacher by the way but work in the schools and I have heard the supervisor say this on numerous occasions.

      •  From the NEA link you provide: (12+ / 0-)
        Chairman Kline’s bills would also gut protection of state and local fiscal support for schools, triggering a race to the bottom in the foundation of public education. Federal dollars would be used to backfill state and local funding gaps rather than assisting students who need additional support or attention to thrive, particularly those in poverty.  
        The link you provided was about a bill from last year that would have allowed that.
        •  I linked a recent bill... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA

          ...because it showed their continued position regarding the issue of federal standards:

          The bills also eliminate all focus on the quality of teachers entering the profession and would grant the federal government top-heavy control over development of teacher evaluation systems.  NEA believes that the bar for entry into the profession must be raised and that educators deserve comprehensive, top-notch evaluation systems that are developed with them not for them.
          The NEA takes pretty much the exact opposite position to having one standardized federal test:
          The federal government should require states and districts to prepare educational equity and adequacy plans that address disparities in resources, support services, programs, and opportunities to experience smaller classes, advanced courses, and exposure to accomplished educators.
          •  where does it state that the NEA opposes (4+ / 0-)

            federally produced/mandated standardized tests?

            "The federal government must increase support for educational research and development, and should create a clearinghouse for promising, innovative practices.

            ESEA should end the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests by developing high-quality assessment systems that provide multiple ways for students to show what they have learned. The best way to assess student achievement is with multiple, valid, reliable measures of student learning and school performance over time.

            We must replace the cheap, flawed standardized tests now used with second-generation assessment systems that (1) provide students with multiple ways to show what they have learned over time and (2) provide educators with valid data to improve instruction and enhance support for students.

            The concept of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) must be replaced by a system that recognizes schools’ progress in meeting learning goals and correctly identifies struggling schools so they can get the support they need to improve.
            High-quality, longitudinal data systems that improve instruction and protect the privacy of students and educators need to be developed.

            Special populations—such as students with disabilities and English-language learners—have unique instructional and assessment needs. Standards and assessments must be accessible to all students."

            either i'm missing it, or you're making it up.

      •  That's dishonest (4+ / 0-)

        I can't believe someone would stoop to lying like this.  

        Teachers already have objective evaluations based on set of standards that are agreed upon, and then evaluated by the principal.  

        If you think the only objective way to evaluate an individual is by the numbers thart are the result of test scores, then you are completely wrong.  


        by otto on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:11:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  HR'd for the RW talking point. (4+ / 0-)

        Having worked at the local and national level, I can say from experience that this is absolutely false.

        Of course, their position, along with most of the other teacher's lobbies, is that teachers shouldn't have any kind of objective evaluation.

        Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

        by divineorder on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:40:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  But, but... (0+ / 0-)

      what do teachers know?

  •  This is maddening. (33+ / 0-)

    For decades, we've known that standardized tests have built-in cultural and social biases, and not a thing has been done about it.  I wrote a college paper on this exact topic in 1975!  

    When groups like Rhee's "StudentsFirst," with their for-profit dumbing-down of American children, get the whole hearted support of politicians (I'm looking at you, Rahm Emanuel) it seems like a losing battle.

    •  What do you propose as an alternative (5+ / 0-)

      to be used in evaluating how well students are learning across schools and school systems?

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:58:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not opposed to testing by any means. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oldestsonofasailor, divineorder

        It's just that I firmly believe the people who create the tests have the skill, just not the will to normalize them to eliminate the most egregious biases.

        •  What existing standardized test do you support? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:47:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's the problem (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WillR, Linda Wood

            There is bad faith on both sides, not in equal amounts but regrettably there's enough on "our" side to make progressive reform impossible.  So long as opponents of testing are unable to provide an alternative, we're in a horse race without a horse and that's a pretty bad position to be in.  I understand the objection that standardized tests tied to teacher evaluation risk an unfair bias against teachers, but the idea that teachers should be solely responsible for the evaluation of their students risks (well, whatever is more than "risk") an unfair bias in favor of teachers.  If all teachers are excellent or could be excellent with proper support, there is no basis for treating and compensating teachers as professionals who have a distinctive skill that others don't have.

            You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

            by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:12:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It gets worse (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          I remember a study, can't give you a citation unfortunately, in which two classrooms of African-American students were given an identical test, but one room was told that the test had been developed to be free of cultural bias.

          That room scored higher.

          That implies another problem which is harder to fix.

      •  This isn't even about that (7+ / 0-)

        It's about an irrelevant test purchased under questionable conditions measuring things teachers aren't expected to teach and having to consequences for students so they have no motivation to take it seriously. And then it's used as part of teacher evaluation. That's just nuts.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:48:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Who cares about that metric? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Shouldn't you care about what your child is learning, not how Tom in Topeka compares to Dave in Des Moines?  Isn't it possible that Tom and Dave have different interests and abilities, and it would be much more profitable to teach to a child's strength, rather than making sure everyone meets an arbitrary statistic across several arbitrary categories?  

        I don't want standardized kids.  Thus, why standardize tests?

        •  Your child,... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dogs are fuzzy, Linda Wood, nextstep

          ...Tom in Topeka and Dave in Des Moines (to say nothing of children in China and India) will ultimately be competing for the same jobs.

          In my opinion, it is immoral to lead Tom to believe he is doing well (and hence doesn't really have to work harder) while Dave, whose local school district has higher standards and is setting the bar higher, is urged to meet higher minimum standards. By the time Tom realizes he can't get a job because all the Dave's took them, it's very difficult for him to recover his life.

          Tom and Dave and your child may have different skills and interests. But any of them that can't add two fractions with dissimilar denominators, compute compound interest, solve a simple system of linear equations, understand basic economics, read and understand their auto insurance policy, and compute the area of common two dimensional objects lack the necessary education to function at full potential in society as adults. All of these skills are easily tested by standardized tests.

          When Federal funding is involved, as it has become for some reason, in education, taxpayer Cathy in California now has an interest in how effectively her dollars are being spent in educating Tom and Dave.

          Once Federal funding is involved, standardization is, I believe, inevitable -- just as the requirements for Interstate Highways are set by the Federal Government because they fund them.

          •  I would suggest to you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dogs are fuzzy

            That 95% of the adult population is incapable of performing the list of tasks you suggested.  Where would you guess Americans, as a whole, twenty-forty years removed from 8th grade, would land on such a test?

            How did you pick those particular skills, in any event?  You're just arbitrarily raising some skills above others.  People once widely believed it was important for an enlightened mind to be able to read and compose in Greek, Latin, and French, rhetoric and oration, and perhaps master Newtonian physics, etc., and that foreign travel was absolutely essential to becoming a well rounded person.  Would you suggest we scrap the current system and return to an entirely classical education?  I can certainly envision gigantic benefits of doing so, but who am I to choose what every other child in America should learn?

            Lastly, do you have any evidence, at all, that doing well on standardized tests has any correlation to later success in life?  Every statistic I've seen suggests that the number one factor is your class and wealth - i.e., to whom you are born.  Trust me, you can do AMAZING on standardized tests your whole life, and still face long periods of joblessness and despair.  

            •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linda Wood

              ...if 95% of the adult population is incapable of performing the list of tasks I included, maybe we should just give up.

              Although many adults may have forgotten some of these skills, it comes back much more quickly if you once knew it.

              I picked skills (and it wasn't meant to be a complete list) that are useful in day to day life and jobs. At this time, reading and writing classical Greek isn't very useful for most people in their day to day life (it's a fine hobby, but there just aren't many jobs in the field). Having selected Latin as the language to take in High School many decades ago, I still run across words that I can infer the meaning of because of their origins in Latin - mildly useful, but not essential so I didn't mention Latin as an important skill.

              If someone of average intelligence can't add 1/8 and 1/4 when faced with those question on a standardized, or non-standardized, test or in real life, their education left them handicapped. If they are able to do that calculation, they can do it on a standardized test.

              Increasingly, technology and specialization makes education more and more important. When 90+ percent of the labor force worked in agriculture before mechanical tools (steam tractors for example) became available, there were plenty of jobs for those without an education. Now only (IIRC) 2 or 3 percent of the labor force works in agriculture in the US (and a larger, albeit still fairly small, percentage of those jobs probably require a basic education). Manufacturing came along and was able to employ many of those with little education who would have worked in agricultural jobs previously. However, manufacturing jobs increasingly require more education. Classic manufacturing jobs could be taught in perhaps ten or twenty minutes and required little education -- computers and robots can do many of these jobs now and, if labor becomes too expensive, will be deployed to replace workers. Some jobs will be created in designing, maintaining, and programing these computers and robots but the new jobs created require way more skill and education than the manufacturing jobs replaced.

              Consider that Foxconn (yes, I know, evil) appears to be planning on deploying a million robots, designed and built in-house, to assemble iGadgets. This is to reduce labor costs and problems and, probably, to improve product quality. That is the future. As a byproduct, I speculate that Foxconn may also become a leading supplier of industrial robots -- sadly, partially due to resistance by labor in the US, we have not focused on robots in recent decades so have probably ceded this market long ago.

              Looking out at the horizon, I just don't see where the flood of new jobs that require limited education and skills are going to come from. We have a moral responsibility to insure that children get the best possible education and develop skills that are useful to society and valued highly so these children can live productive lives not on the edge of poverty. Some individuals are not intellectually capable of high degrees of educational achievement (notice I said "capable", not "are too lazy" or "don't care" or "would rather play games on their X-Boxes") and we must reserve those few remaining low skill jobs for these rather than have these low skilled jobs taken by those who have sufficient intellectual capabilities, but not the education, to hold higher skill jobs.

      •  Why should we care (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, Not A Bot, blueoasis

        how well students are doing in another school across the city, the state, or the country? When we deal with other infrastructure, I doubt the question even comes up.

        Does fixing potholes in the Palms neighborhood in Los Angeles somehow depend on the state of road repair in Portland? Is tap water quality in Atlanta related to tap water quality in Lubbock? If a Post Office roof leaks in Chicago, do we investigate roof integrity in Denver?

        No. We fix local problems as we find them, if we have resources to do so.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a bizarre objection to standardized testing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep, Linda Wood, Orinoco

          For all the things you mention, we do indeed have national standards either via the federal government or other imposers of national standards.  

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:13:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I have bizarre thoughts at times (0+ / 0-)

            thank you for noticing    ;^)
            see below

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:52:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  There are national standards (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WillR, Linda Wood, nextstep, Orinoco

          For water quality (people who ship bottled water across state lines know about this), civil engineering (even more than how to do road repair), and building codes (how to build roofs that don't leak).

          •  Yes, there are national standards (0+ / 0-)

            building codes, materials testing standards and so on. My point is not that there shouldn't be standards, or that standards shouldn't be met.

            But standardized educational testing is not about any of that, except on the surface. It is about comparing one school to another, one school district to another, one state to another.

            Do we ever take into account the tap water quality in Atlanta when we are working in the water treatment plant in Lubbock?  We really do not. If we find a problem in Lubbock, we fix the problem in Lubbock. Likewise for any other infrastructure problem you care to mention, except one: public education.

            I think the truly bizarre thing is that we are forcing competition between school districts, schools and teachers when cooperation and collaboration works so much better.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:51:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Considering that the students... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep, WillR, Linda Wood and are eventually expected to work in our culture (not another one) it seems reasonable to evaluate their learning on such standards.

        Actual employment is "culturally biased" as well. Students are going to be expected to communicate in English, understand common American concepts, etc. It makes no sense to test them in an 'unbiased' manner that has little bearing on the real world.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Department of Labor (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell, divineorder

          Has 25 groups alone of "Occupation Groups," which are each as broad as "Healthcare" or "Production."  I don't see a statistic of how many individual careers they track - I can only imagine it's into the hundreds and hundreds.

          See for yourself

          So in the real world, when the rubber meets the road, it's so important that each child learns the bare minimum of four or five subjects?  Why?  Why not find out what a child is interested in, and teach them that?  You know, so when they join the real world, they'll have skills and information ready to apply and help build a better tomorrow.  I mean, I guess you could build a better tomorrow diagramming sentences, but I don't know how.  

          From your comment, you just seem to be blind to all diversity in American culture.  There is no such thing as one, uniform, homogeneous American culture.  How can you even pretend this is so?  

          •  If one can't do... (4+ / 0-)

            ...basic math and comprehend simple contracts, they are unlikely to be able to even manage their money.

            If someone lacks the education to analyze ballot issues such as bond measures using simple math, how can they possibly be an informed voter?

            Children don't really know what they want to do when "they grow up". They also can't analyze if a field is something that there will be much demand for in ten or twenty years. An important goal of education, at least through high school, is to insure that children have a base competency which will not exclude them from pursuing career options - even those they didn't consider when they were in fourth grade.

            I run across middle school students who seriously think they will make a living playing professional sports -- completely oblivious to the fact that they aren't even the best athlete in their targeted sport within their school district that year, let alone the state in the last five years. "Interests" often don't align with "making a living" and "reality" and "contributing to society".

            If High School diplomas don't mean that the holder has some minimal skills, employers can't rely on them and have to administer their own tests for simple skills that almost all jobs will require competency in (for example, reading and basic math). Perhaps employers would band together and require "certifications" (such as is common in some technical fields), but those are relatively expensive for people to obtain and unnecessary in some jobs if a High School diploma from a public school in the United States means the applicant has mastered a minimum set of skills.

            As far as diagramming sentences, that may not be a specific skill that I would think is required for most professions or trades. However, it's closely related to skills that are required for most successful careers (reading and writing) and it's more of a tool for helping to understand sentence structure than a primary skill. If standardized tests are testing sentence diagramming, that may be inappropriate, but testing to identify which word in a sentence is an adjective or an adverb and what part of a sentence is an independent clause seem quite appropriate.

            •  High school diplomas (0+ / 0-)

              Then, have already failed at the task you've set for them.


              (AP) - Facing the future with a college degree is like being in a lifeboat on a roiling sea.

              Facing the future with a high school degree is like being in the water.

              If you're a member of the millennial generation - ages 18 to 34 - who never got beyond 12th grade, expect hard times, say people who study the transition from youth to adulthood.

              "There's nothing for these kids," said Maria Kefalas, a St. Joseph's University sociologist. "Absolutely nothing."

              Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, put it this way: "It's remarkable how much trouble they're in."

              Somehow, making sure we standardize everyone's weakest points has not been producing great results for people with high school diploma.  Also, if you seriously think that a high school diploma gives you the ability to analyze local bond issues... I can't believe you think that.  

              Sure, kids don't know they want to be a mechanic in the airline industry when they're 6.  But even 6 year olds are good at different things.  13 year olds are good at, and interested in, different things.  I think it's a little insulting to the youth to suggest that they all want to be pro sports players, which your anecdotal (but certainly true!) story kind of does.  Perhaps if we reconnected education with actual careers, and not a semi-mythical certificate of readiness, kids would show even more interest in what jobs are available.  As it is, at least from my background, kids are encouraged to never think about it - why should they, when the only point of going to high school is to go to college?  And if you have to know adjectives and adverbs to go to college, sure, cram for it, forget it, who cares anyway?

              •  I agree... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Linda Wood, Sparhawk

                ...that we have already failed. We should fix that instead of give up.

                I disagree with you about the ability to analyze a bond measure using math. There's nothing that complicated involved that someone with an IQ of 100 who has studied for 12 years shouldn't be able to do if they are expected to learn the necessary skills. Many of these skills are the same ones required for personal finance.

                We need to raise the bar if we are going to compete in the global economy and not continue to decline in global relevance.

                And, as far as education, you might want to reread the comment you responded to -- I never said, or implied, or suggested that "they all want to be pro sports players".

                I think connecting education with actual careers is a fine idea - but not at the exclusion of a general education. Note, for example, that just because 5% of the children "want to be" artists (or whatever the fad of the moment is), doesn't mean there will be enough jobs for all of them in that field. Those that aren't good enough to make a living at it need to have other options and that's where a general education helps. (You don't have to love your job -- although it's nice if you do of course -- but the goal is to support yourself and not be a burden on society and, maybe, to be able to support a non-paying hobby or interest like art).

          •  Programming computers for human language? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            Diagramming sentences is only the beginning of the skill set for that job, which builds a better tomorrow. For non-specialists, it creates a transferrable skill of taking things apart to see how they fit together.

            However, focusing on employability misses the real point, which is that the children should be prepared to become voters. There's a core of history, economics, and critical thinking which is essential to being a good voter.

        •  I was an engineer for a company... (5+ / 0-)

          who made aluminum flat bed semi-trailers for over the road truck companies.  They had a welder who could do absolutely amazing welds and saved the company tens of thousands of dollars on numerous occasions repairing other peoples mistakes when no one else could.  He became a supervisor while I was there and trained all of his crew to be expert welders.  Everyone respected him on the floor but the office would always ridicule him because as good of an employee as he was... he could not read.  He didn't need to for the job he was doing and he would not have been promoted at all (he had been passed over for years) if he hadn't been so crucial to the profitability of the facility and they were afraid another outfit was going to snatch him up.

          I wonder how well a standardized test would have measured this man's true worth?  Why do we limit what is considered valuable knowledge to math and reading comprehension?  As a member of MENSA, I love standardized tests but I also see that they work great for someone like me and not so good for people like Russ.  I cannot weld aluminum for any amount of money and I admire his skill.  Why not seek out the right talent each of us have and afford it the appropriate level of respect?  I guess it is just easier to have a way to figure out who to call smart and who to call dumb.  We always need an efficient way to label people...

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:45:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well put. Such differentiation seems beyond many. (4+ / 0-)

            If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

            by livjack on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:22:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Would having learned how to read... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dogs are fuzzy, Linda Wood, Sparhawk

            ...prevented Russ from being a great welder (and, if so, why)? Did he have a disability that prevented him from reading? Surely his being able to read would have made it easier for him to pick up new technologies related to his field on his own and therefore benefited him. How could he read the safety materials and instruction manuals for a new welding unit that was extensively electronically controlled (so he couldn't deduce from mechanical linkages how it worked). How did he understand OSHA regulations if he couldn't read (as supervisor he would normally be responsible for safety training and insuring his staff followed the rules)?

            How should we decide that a fourth grader should be a "Russ" and stop bothering to teach him to read?

            The number of jobs for folks like Russ are declining rapidly. More and more manufacturing jobs that pay any but the lowest wages require reading and math skills - because they are controlling, programming, and/or repairing machines that do the actual work (including welding).

            Anyone in today's society that can't read is at a serious disadvantage. They are at the mercy of others all the time - be it in getting auto insurance and understanding what it covers or understanding the rental application they must sign. Even making intelligent and informed healthcare decisions for yourself is very difficult if you can't read.

            •  I think you mis-understood... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              How should we decide that a fourth grader should be a "Russ" and stop bothering to teach him to read?
              I never said that it wasn't a disadvantage for his inability to read and by no means was I suggesting that we should ever stop teaching anyone to read.

              I was saying that just because some people did not have a high aptitude in areas that we typically attribute to intelligence or aptitude does not mean that they are not intelligent and are not valuable to society.  

              Why should little Suzie winning accelerated reader contests at school be praised as a bright child while Johnny, who rebuilds lawnmowers at age twelve, gets a label as a dunce?  Standardized tests lead to a standardized society where value is standardized as is appreciation.

              The number of jobs for folks like Russ are declining rapidly. More and more manufacturing jobs that pay any but the lowest wages require reading and math skills
              Why not pay people for what they are worth instead of requiring they fit inside a certain box and then expect them to think outside of it?  Why do we put them in it to begin with?  Not everyone has an aptitude for the written language and I do not know his particular set of circumstances but I do know he is a great guy, a good husband and a fantastic welder which is what his job requires of him.  Why do people think he is less than because he cannot read?  Would you discriminate against him if he couldn't walk?  That would offer challenges in the work place as well.

              I think you are making the assumption, as a lot of people do, that he cannot read because he is lazy or he didn't try in school.  I bet you cannot weld aluminum.  That is something he finds as easy as you and I find reading.  Why can't people accept that we all have diffent gifts in this world and his gift happened not to be reading but welding.  We have enough good readers out there who can give him a hand when he needs it, I think we could use a few more welders in my opinion.

              "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

              by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:35:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually... (3+ / 0-)

      , albeit unstated, primary assumption was that Russ didn't have the opportunity or wasn't given the motivation to learn read. I also considered the possibility that he had a learning disability that wasn't diagnosed and addressed (perhaps due to the lack of understanding of such conditions when he was in school or, if he was younger, a bad school system). I concluded this because he sounds like an accomplished individual in other aspects so it's probably not a basic intelligence issue.

                I can't weld aluminum but I'm pretty sure I could learn to do a pretty good job at it if I chose to pursue that trade. As good as Russ, maybe not. I'm not sure what the relevance of that is though - it's impossible to be an expert at everything. My education, certainly not stellar, permits me to explore a wide variety of things relevant to a productive and informed existence.

                I don't think less of Russ because he can't read, although if he could learn to read and chose not to, I might question his judgement in making that decision even as an adult.

                I'm not expecting that every child will develop "high aptitude" in every area. However, I do believe our education system should set fairly high expectations and strive for basic aptitude in critical areas by as many children as possible.

                We should, for example, expect a High School graduate to be able to, painfully perhaps, read their auto insurance contract and actually understand it without help beyond Google et al. We should expect a High School graduate to be able to fairly quickly compute, with a four function calculator, how much money they would owe at the end of five years if they borrowed $10,000 at a simple annual interest rate of 7% and made no intervening payments. We should expect a High School graduate to compute, without a calculator, the odds of a coin flip coming up heads five times in a row. We should expect a High School graduate to know the difference between the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We should expect a High School graduate to know that each state has a fixed number of Senators. None of these require "high aptitude" - they require a basic education and, in the case of the insurance contract, concentration, focus, and perseverance.

              •  He's not here to speak for himself, (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                WillR, Sparhawk, Buckeye Nut Schell

                because he can't read, but I think it's a stretch to assume he feels his lack of ability to read has been an advantage for him. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's been a disadvantage for him.

                You ask,

                Why do people think he is less than because he cannot read?
                I don't think anyone in this discussion thinks he is "less than." But I definitely think he is less advantaged than most people if he cannot read.

                I think your argument suggests the testing of children's skills and knowledge is just to measure children's abilities, child by child, against one another. I don't think that's what standardized testing is meant to do. I think it works with the assumption most children, by a certain age and grade level, should be able to read and demonstrate skill in subjects that are crucial for their ability to support themselves later in life.

                I personally don't think we've come to this debate because of individual teachers' talents or lack thereof. I think the reform struggle has to do with methods of teaching going back decades in this country that have led to children, in significant numbers, not reaching normal levels of knowledge and skill.

          •  Who said a standardized tests measures a person's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood, Sparhawk


            There is nothing in this world that does everything.  To critique a standardized math test for not telling us how good a person's welding skills are makes no sense.

            If someone said that this person's welds were good because they scored well on a math test, the person making that assertion is the one deserving criticism.

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:06:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  More to life than welding aluminum (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood, WillR, Sparhawk

            Valuable as his skill is, it was wrong of the schools to deprive him of all the pleasures and practical advantages enabled by reading.

      •  first off, i would recommend that ms. rhee, (4+ / 0-)

        and her for-profit grift, be kept far away from anything having to do with public education, or education period. she is, and has been since the beginning, a fraud.

        "What do you propose as an alternative"

        a test, or series of tests, that accurately measures the full scope of learning, that should have occurred for the period and subject being tested. of course, this first requires a uniform set of standards, by subject and grade, that every child should have learned, before tests can even be constructed, to assess whether they've met those standards or not.

        currently, there is no national, uniform standards, by subject and grade, each state has its own, which is a large part of the problem. those standards are political, not educational in nature. math, science, etc. standards shouldn't be political bouncing balls, subject to the whim of every new administration.

        •  Like the state congressman from my town... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          who wants A.C.T. to develop a test specifically for Kentucky because their current test has questions regarding evolution which he says contains no basis in fact.  

          This would cost Kentucky tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars to create this separate test.  These are the fiscally responsible republican representatives that refuse consider increasing the number of kids eligible for KCHIP insurance because of our budget woes.

          These are the people influencing the development of standardized tests.

          "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

          by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:52:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I believe that evaluations should be based... (5+ / 0-)

        on individual performance reviews conducted by the principle as it was done for the entire history of US education up until the last decade or so.  Standardized tests may be a part of that evaluation but that is debatable.  

        People like to think of intelligence and education as a linear progression that occurs exactly the same in every human being.  Math is probably the closest thing to a linear progression you will find and therefor it is the most commonly sited.  

        For example, they want to say that first you learn addition and when you are adaquately skilled there, you move on to subtraction and then multiplication, etc...  By measuring where in that linear progression you are, we can determine how educated you are and by tying the student's age into the equation, determine how effective the education is.  This does not work.  This does not take into account the previous teachers skills or the students home life situation or the events surrounding the test itself or a whole other set of circumstances and math is their best model.  When you start working with English, it becomes impossible.  I am an educated, well read, middle aged professional white man and I can assure you that the language my children hear from me daily in normal conversation is nothing like the language children hear from poor, ethnic families who are not educated.  This does not make my kids smarter nor does it make my kids better taught by the teachers but they are more apt to hear words like "facetious" used in ordinary conversation in my house and you will not hear one word of a foriegn language because regrettably, I only speak one.  Which do you think standardized tests favor?  

        Also, if I were teaching a group of boys between the ages of ten and fourteen, I would assign a completely different set of books to read than I would a group of girls that age.  I would want to find, for each one of them, the perfect type of book to get them hooked on reading.  If I had to prepare them for a standardized tests, I would have to choose books the authors of the tests like as opposed to the books I thought my students liked.

        Teachers should be measured using all of the unmeasurable qualities such as their relationships with their students and whether they taught their students the fine art of learning or not.  There is more to knowledge than math and reading comprehension and standardized tests ignore those traits.  I propose evaluating teachers as individuals just like their students should be measured...and taught.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:18:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great post (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell, blueoasis

          Just to add, this was uniform across all levels.  If you wanted admission to a college or university, you used to show up at the college or university, where you were interviewed and had to pass entrance exams.  

          Now, of course, many/most of our colleges simply choose who to admit based upon a formula inputting a GPA and a standardized test score.  Why is anyone (other than the people who are paid to make bogus tests) fighting to preserve this system?

          •  Why... (0+ / 0-)

            ...should hundreds of colleges waste the effort of duplicating the SAT?

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:44:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Perhaps (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Buckeye Nut Schell

              Colleges that offer dozens of degrees across a huge spectrum of programs, which give a a huge hand up in the rungs of society, shouldn't base application decisions on a test that only judges English and Math, and has ZERO correlation beyond the first year of college performance?  

              I don't know, call me crazy, I'd think that college application departments shouldn't surrender all of their discretion to how well some kid did on filling in bubbles on a particular day on a test developed by a private corporation, when bubble filling itself is a metric of how well off you are and how much time you spent prepping for that test (which, again, goes back to being well off).  Maybe they'd want to admit students based upon how well they'd fit into their particular institutions?  

            •  Why have hundreds of colleges (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Buckeye Nut Schell, MPociask

              if they all cater to the same kind of student?

              There might be different entrance exams between places like MIT and places that emphasize humanities.

        •  You can't measure someone "as an individual" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dogs are fuzzy, Linda Wood

          You can do math, or you can't.

          You can read, understand, and write, or you can't.

          I don't buy this "whoa, man, don't you understand that this stuff can't be quantified, man?"

          It's easy to know if a student knows or doesn't know something. You just have to ask them. Students are individuals and so teachers might need different methods to teach them: that's where teachers' expertise comes in. But evaluation has to be done on a standard or it's meaningless.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:43:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And what exactly should be measured? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MPociask, suesue

            Are you saying that every kid who comes out of high school are on a sliding scale?  A standardized test advocates that each child is somwhere between zero and the perfect student and can be measured on their potential based on a snapshoot in time.

            A test cannot determine if "You can do math, or you can't."  How often, in real life, have you been tasked to answer more than a few math problems in a row in a measured amount of time similar to an ACT test?  As an engineer for the past seventeen years, I can honestly say, "Not many".  

            My son can do any math question that his grade level requires of him but he takes a little longer than many of his peers.  He thinks the problem through.  That used to be a valuable trait but it does not fit into the efficiency needs of standardized tests.  If he gets a perfect score on the first twenty questions he answers but leaves ten blank, he will get a worse score than someone who gets twenty-two questions right but eight questions wrong.

            In the real world, I would rather have an intern that got the twenty questions right and did not guess at the other ten.  Mistakes cost money and time.  It is not black and white, no matter how efficient that system of standardized evaluation tries to make it.  

            "Like whoa man, quantifying intangible attributes is harder than I thought, man...  Maybe I should consider that variable inputs can create more than just a positive or negative output, dude."

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:55:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              My son can do any math question that his grade level requires of him but he takes a little longer than many of his peers.  He thinks the problem through.  That used to be a valuable trait but it does not fit into the efficiency needs of standardized tests.  If he gets a perfect score on the first twenty questions he answers but leaves ten blank, he will get a worse score than someone who gets twenty-two questions right but eight questions wrong.
              Yes, but you are reading the assessment incorrectly. The fact that your son is slow at math isn't some facet of the universe. The assessment is telling you that your son needs remedial math work. He can't solve math problems as quickly as his peers. That's a problem that the assessment is screaming at you. The assessment isn't wrong, it's telling you exactly what the problem is! Get him a math tutor or something, or teach him yourself if you're an engineer. There are other students who can solve all thirty problems in the allotted time.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:21:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, my son is above his level but... (0+ / 0-)

                my point was that he is not as highly tested as other students who guess and get multiple questions wrong.  In the real world, one wrong answer can cost more than fifty right answers.

                I do help my children and he does not need a tutor.  The test measures your ability to quickly compute hypothetical algorithms which is not necessarily testing whether you understand math per se, it is testing your recall skills. Conflating quick recall skills and mathmatics is like conflating reading comprehension and grammer.  Although they are related, they are not the same thing.

                There are many factors involved in evaluating someone's ability and there are many individual aspects to each factor.  Standardized tests give a general measure to a very narrow spectrum of just a few of those individual aspects yet claims to be a broad overview.

                We have become a world caught up in standardized way of thinking in a nation who has lost its appreciation for individualized instruction.  I truly believe that is the main attraction for home school parents.  We haven't always been this way and I hope the trend reverses itself.  

                Zero tolerance policies at school and at work remove common sense and individual judgement out of situational occurances, structured job applications where the candidate is predefined to the point you have cookie cutter applicants and they wonder why nothing ever changes.  Impossible to meet standardized goals and criteria that does not make sense force managers to lie if they want to keep their job and yet we wonder why we cannot trust the data...  The list goes on and on.

                "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:27:06 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  He's not 'above his level'... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Linda Wood

                  ...if he does math too slowly to pass a standardized test that some other students pass with little difficulty. Part of good math skills is good recall and the ability to hold multiple numbers in your head at once.

                  In the real world, one wrong answer can cost more than fifty right answers
                  We're not really getting anywhere here. The test is designed to be a combination of speed and accuracy to (in your words) get an overview of their abilities.
                  We have become a world caught up in standardized way of thinking in a nation who has lost its appreciation for individualized instruction.  I truly believe that is the main attraction for home school parents.  We haven't always been this way and I hope the trend reverses itself.  
                  That's fine: you're entitled to your opinion. The economics of teaching millions of kids basically the same thing make individualized instruction or testing infeasible. I personally prefer an economical and efficient approach over other methods.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 09:20:31 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Individualized instruction has worked... (0+ / 0-)

                    up until now.  You are so caught up in:

                    The economics of teaching millions of kids basically the same thing
                    That is my point, what makes you think that we have to teach millions of kids, "basically the same thing"?

                    Until these standardized test movement started in the 70s and exploding with Bush's signature "No Child Left Behind" legislation, kids were taught as individuals learning home economics, metal and wood shop, art, athletics, etc...  All of that has been narrrowed down to core classes to reach maximum efficiency on standardized tests.  Prepare everyone the same (or similar) way and then pick the best at the given criteria.  It puts kids on a linear scale of a given set of requirements chosen by a select few based on their values.  It does not work for even a majority of the students.

                    My son is in gifted and talented.  He is above level and I did not say he could not pass a standardized test, I said:

                    my point was that he is not as highly tested as other students who guess and get multiple questions wrong.
                    My niece who lived with us for a number of years got a 32 on her ACT and had good grades.  She was offered full scholarships to a number of universities and failed out of Ohio State in the first year.  My daughter, who is attending Murray State got a 27 on her ACT and had a 3.9 GPA, did not get any scholarship offers but is taking a heavy workload in an honors program and has a 3.85 GPA.  The standardized testing did a fine job of measuring the intangibles there, didn't it?  

                    Standardized testing gives a snapshot of someone's ability to do certain aspects of narrowly defined criteria arbitrarily chosen and claims to be a broad overview.  It does very little to actually measure a childs aptitude or actual ability.  That requires a teacher who can observe the student over time and through a mix of different challenges and thier opinions are being increasingly ignored in favor of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a standardized test.

                    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 10:03:36 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  When you say, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Buckeye Nut Schell
                      Standardized testing gives a snapshot of someone's ability to do certain aspects of narrowly defined criteria arbitrarily chosen and claims to be a broad overview
                      I think you raise an important point within the reform debate and the testing part of it. I agree that standardized testing gives a snapshot of someone's ability to do certain aspects of narrowly defined criteria. But I would not say those criteria are arbitrarily chosen or that such testing claims to be a broad overview.

                      My understanding of the history of this struggle is that reform efforts are the result of 4 main phenomena:

                      Parents noticing that their children are not acquiring skills and knowledge at normal levels;

                      A persistent Achievement Gap between low income and high income students;

                      University and college faculty finding significant numbers of high school graduates not prepared for college, though their grades and assessments say they are;

                      And international testing in which U.S. students score relatively low.

                      Over these decades of concern, university faculty, parents, teachers and community members have worked to promote the establishment of standards that would be considered normal, that is, levels of knowledge and skill that are necessary for children to use for their own choices and goals in their future lives, so that they have the option of pursuing any field, any endeavor they choose.

                      If standardized tests are focused on those skills and knowledge alone, whether you call them basic, whether you call them academic, or whether you call them ideal, they are measuring whether or not schools are preparing children for their futures.

                      The dream that encouragement and positive reinforcement alone, accompanied by computers and calculators and hugs, can prepare children for the future has been shattered by results that parents, college educators, and students themselves know about first hand.

                      •  There is no factual proof to your claim... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Linda Wood

                        Look at the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act.  This act is based on your premise that standardized tests improve student and teacher performance.  The facts say something entirely different:

                        “The U.S. effectively showed no improvement in reading since 2000,” the same period under the NCLB, according to an Education  Department blog posting last December, in response to the OECD findings.  

                        “Overall, the OECD’s rankings have U.S. students in 14th place in reading literacy among OECD nations,” the department wrote.

                        In Math, the U.S. ranked 25th among OECD nations.

                        But in 2000, when the PISA test was first administered, the U.S. ranked 15th in reading and 19th in math.

                        The department called these findings “sobering,” and took the opportunity to advance reforms.

                        “How much money the U.S. spends on education isn’t the problem,” the Department said at the time.  “We spend more per student than any nation in the PISA study except Luxembourg.”

                        Again, it all boils down to treating children as if you can put them on a sliding scale to measure their ability and potential by taking a test over a few hours of time.  It is not an accurate measure.

                        The conditions you site (parental concerns, acheivement gaps, university readiness and international testing) are more linked to class sizes, community poverty levels and community priorities.  Standardized tests take time away from teachers who formally used this time to teach other life skills and forces them to teach to the test.  They also take significant financial resources away from schools to provide and grade these tests.  

                        They also force the teacher to stop worrying about the students future and start worrying about their own.  This has led to rampant fraud, policies of forcing students out of the schools between January 1st and the test date, cheaters who help their students cheat and more.  These do nothing but raise the percentile grades making it harder for the honest teachers to pass as well.  The entire standardized testing system is incentivized for corruption.

                        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:35:40 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Your final statement here says so much. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Buckeye Nut Schell
                          The entire standardized testing system is incentivized for corruption.
                          Not only do I completely agree with you about it, I think you have summed up the entire public education dilemma, past and present.

                          I believe that the power inherent in the worst elements of our economic system, which I call the Forces of Oppression, have guided public education in this country from its start. I believe that a century of tracking systems, based on family income or neighborhood, such that only higher income students received a college preparatory education in our public schools, was designed to produce a small, well-educated ownership class, a reasonably well-educated trades and management class, and a huge functionally illiterate working class for the benefit of oppressors. I think we are still fighting this war now in the reform debate and that you are right: any grassroots effort to improve the quality of education in this country is vulnerable to a takeover and destruction by moneyed interests with the same, centuries-old purpose, the entrenchment of their own power over labor.

                          Diane Ravitch, in her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, details the corruption you point to. Every time efforts to improve instruction or curricula gained ground in districts like New York City's, for example, district leadership simply changed the measuring points for what constituted "proficiency," thereby raising the trustworthiness of failing teaching methods and their commercially profitable products. So the testing battle is just as vulnerable, I agree. And I am alert, every time I see acronyms like SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to the possibility that such groups represent the compromises that will destroy access to a high quality education in our country.

                      •  I do want to say... (0+ / 0-)

                        I appreciate your demeaner throughout this entire conversation.  Although we differ quite a bit in our beliefs,  neither you or I have resorted to name calling or insults to make our points.

                        I wish all people here at dkos who disagree could have discussions which are so amicable in nature.

                        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:39:44 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

    •  I am also not all that convinced (13+ / 0-)

      of the reliability or validity of these tests. Based on my very small sample size as a parent, the scores my child has received have been pretty bouncy from year to year. They don't seem to be very reflective of much aside from maybe how he was feeling that day or how much effort he wanted to put into the test. Some years he does great, other years not so much, and I don't think it's that his academic progress really changed a lot from one year to another.

      Statistics and data analysis are a big part of my work and I am a believer in statistical modeling. I actually think the value-added models are really nicely done from a statistical point of view. But if the data that are going into them are not reliable it is really hard to draw many conclusions based on the results of the models.

  •  Thanks for the report and analysis. (31+ / 0-)

    What many Americans fail to realize, and most of today's "reformers" especially, is that it has always been teachers working together in smaller areas or through unions who have been the driving force in locals schools and at the state levels to improve the quality of education for students.

    Only the salary and benefits have been given great press attention over the years, but teachers have always been the driving force behind demanding better materials, support services, enrichment experiences, enhanced learning environments, improved methods and shared teaching and learning experiences.

    That's neither an exaggeration or merely a pro-teacher assessment, but the reality in the history of education and teacher lobbying in the nation.  And yes one can find random exceptions undoubtedly with thousands of schools and millions of teachers and students but the many sacrifices and dedications to placing quality learning and well-being of students first has always been the rule.

    The current attempts to weaken, if not destroy, public education in order to enrich the private sector and breakdown support in order to shift public money upward is as great a scam as all of the others that we've seen perpetrated on the poor and middle class.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:28:11 AM PST

    •  Well said. nt (6+ / 0-)

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:35:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In every school in the country, even the worst by any objective measure, there are teachers educating students to a high level. It may only be in one class out of ten, but they are there.

      It stands to reason, then, if we really want to improve education for all students, that we empower teachers, with paid time and resources, to share their techniques and knowledge with each other.

      We do not even have to take any extraordinary measures to find these exceptional teachers, simply give all teachers the time to collaborate with each other, and the leaders will emerge naturally. Who, after all, knows what good teaching really looks like than another teacher?  

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:23:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No "corrupt profit driven process here" (5+ / 0-)

    I have no particular view on MAP, and am generally inclined to the position that there is too much standardized testing at the expense of instruction. But this badly misrepresents the selection process in Seattle and so does a disservice to opponents of testing by entwining legitimate questions about the usefulness of these tests with inaccurate and self serving claims of corruption.  

    The Seattle superintendent was not compensated for serving on the governing board of the nonprofit NWEA which develops these tests. Neither did she serve on the selection committee that evaluated alternative testing providers and chose NWEA for SPS. An IG investigation could find no evidence of any potential personal gain associated with the board service, or with the decision to choose this widely used assessment package. While there might be concerns about the invitation to join the board being extended at the same time the evaluation was being conducted, and the superintendent resigned from the board because the issue had become a distraction, an independent ethics evaluation found no evidence of impropriety. As NWEA was founded as a partnership of the Portland and Seattle public schools it is not surprising that they should recruit the superintendent of the SPS.

    I am familiar with this issue because my own daughter in Chicago is scheduled to take the midterm optional MAP tests this week and we considered having her decline testing. We have chosen to be guided by the view of her classroom teacher about whether these assessments are useful in developing her curriculum and understanding the needs of her students. I will add her response in a subsequent comment if I hear back today. In an admittedly brief review of the material about NWEA and the MAP tests I did not find anything particularly objectionable (at least nothing that suggests they are part of the testing privatization cabal that is ETS - which I recognize is also theoretically non profit). I do not think this diary is particularly helpful to understanding this issue and suggest you remove some of the more sensational characterizations.

    •  A fair point regarding the cleanance from ethical (0+ / 0-)


      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:40:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clearance (0+ / 0-)

        but "cleanance" could be a pretty good word in its own right.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:48:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're looking at the wrong end of the telescope (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The issue here is not "did the superintendent get something of value in violation of the superintendent's contract?" it is "was the evaluation process for the test improperly skewed because the superintendent sat on the board of one of the competitors?"  The results of investigation you describe have no bearing at all on the second question, which is the only that is germane to whether teachers in Seattle currently should be giving the test.  One thing about the vaunted "Seattle process":  when the fix is in, there is nothing you can do about it.  

      •  They examined the influence question as well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        And found no contact between the superintendent and the evaluation committee. The woman who chaired the test evaluation committee ended up getting hired to administer the test, and comes from the universally hated Broad school of testing, but again that does not itself indicate any particular connection of the choice and the process. Nor have I heard anything to suggest that the criticisms of the MAP test are specific to it and that the teachers would be any happier with another standardized test, which suggests this is really a red herring.

        Indeed much of this bill of particulars has the flavor of a political broadside more interested in generating heat than light. The teachers note in their objections that the test is not recommended for high school students, then complain that it is limited to 9th graders and special needs students who could most benefit from the lost instruction hours. The reason for the first is that by tenth grade students have supposedly mastered the tested skills and the test does not generally meaningfully differentiate high level performance. In theory the test is useful for identifying individual student needs in younger students and those who have not mastered 9th grade material. To offer both criticisms without explanation suggests that this is more an attempt to smear the test than to argue for responsible use, or to make a reasoned case against testing.

        While I am not familiar with the issues of the Seattle schools. I am in Chicago, where I am sure that we see every possible flavor of corruption and incompetence. I am myself a teacher (at the college level) and so have some experience with issues of testing and evaluation. I generally share the opinion that there is too much standardized testing and that for profit education is a cancer on the system, but I do not think that teachers and their unions are always focused on what is best for their students either (nor should they be). As a parent and a citizen I have no interest in anything but ensuring that my child and others are getting the best possible education. It does not incline me to support teachers when they make inconsistent or misleading arguments against testing, and if they are not winning over liberal college professors they should reconsider their strategy.

  •  I think standardized testing is ok if it is used (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the purpose of letting a student know how they are doing. The test has to go along with the curriculum or it is not really testing the learning of the student.

    •  This is why teachers routinely give tests (4+ / 0-)

      quizzes and other assessments, that are developed by the teacher around material presented in class, are graded and returned to the student within a few days.

      There is no possible way that a commercially produced, standardized test can come anywhere close to providing a student the kind of feedback they need to know how they are doing, or provide a teacher with useful information to assess and modify the curriculum in real time.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:28:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you mostly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Orinoco

        Standardized tests could be used to modify curriculum in subjects like math, but yes, teacher tests, or district tests would usually be superior measures.

        •  This is such a sad observation (0+ / 0-)

          The reason standardized tests could be used to modify curriculum in subjects like math is that so many math teachers simply follow math textbooks. A math teacher competent enough to develop a curriculum for actual students in a class would not be helped by a textbook coming out the following year with modifications based on a standardized test.

          Lag time between students taking a standardized test and teachers getting results means any curriculum modifications will not affect the current class.

          Students are not toasters being manufactured on a moving assembly line. For standardized testing to have any payoff at all, we must assume that they are.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:40:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  But... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood the end of, say, fourth grade, the student is supposed to have particular skills. It is also good to have these skills fairly uniform across all schools so a child who transfers when their family moves isn't blindsided.

      If the tests test these skills, how could the test not "go along with the curriculum" if the tests are given near the end of the year?

      Obviously if the tests are not testing those things that the students are supposed to learn, that is a serious problem.

      •  You point out a very important reason (0+ / 0-)

        for efforts to provide common educational standards throughout the country:

        It is also good to have these skills fairly uniform across all schools so a child who transfers when their family moves isn't blindsided.
        Until I began to read about education reform in the United States I was unaware that American children move much more often than children in other countries, especially lower income children, for whatever reason. And this has contributed to the Achievement Gap between high income and low income children in the United States.

        Not only are standards different from state to state, from district to district, and from city to city in the United States, but even within a district, even within a particular school, standards vary so much that a child can lose a considerable amount of progress by transferring to a new class, or can be blindsided, as you say, by coming from a district that has very low standards compared to the new classroom.

        This disparity of expectation and accomplishment from school to school is one of the reasons reform advocates often respect the thinking of theorists like E.D. Hirsch, who has written the series, "What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good Fifth-Grade Education."

  •  Let Seattle Start the Fire! (15+ / 0-)

    Proud of my kid's school district for fighting back against these pervasive and useless tests. I fully support this move. Unfortunately I heard the superintendent this morning state that he would still expect them to administer the test. I plan to contact the district and support the teachers.

    •  My favorite WASL story (6+ / 0-)

      When my kid (now in graduate school) was in eighth grade at Washington Middle School (feeder school to Garfield) he missed the WASL (the predecessor test, now happily consigned to the dustbin of history).  As a result, for the purpose of assessing Washington Middle School, his grade was considered a zero.

      Why had he missed the WASL?  He was in Baltimore accepting an award from the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for having scored the highest SAT among eighth graders in the country.

  •  The Simpsons had a funny episode last night (13+ / 0-)

    maybe it was a rerun, I don't know, at any rate,  Bart and Lisa's school was going to be demolished if Bart didn't pass the standardized test. The demolition company was ready with a wrecking ball, but Bart passed the test with the help of a tiny insect that sat on the correct oval "C" on his last response.

  •  "Measures of Academy Progress" does not exist. (4+ / 0-)

    The author should do us all the service of at least using the correct name.

    As an educator and as one who has proctored the Measures of Academic Progress for years now, I take issue with the linked article's reference to a "high stakes test."

    Perhaps more emphasis is placed on this test at Garfield High School than at my school. The test is used to determine different academic metrics. Not just what someone knows - but how they know what they know.

    The test never factors into a person's grade. As a result – it is never used to evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher. That comes later with real high-stakes tests such as the EOCT (End of Course Test) AP exams and graduation tests.

    Is there a perfect instrument of measurement? No. That has not been invented yet. Should we keep trying to develop an accurate examination tool to determine if any student has gaps in the knowledge base and weaknesses in definable areas? Hell yes!

    This article is flawed and should be viewed with great suspicion -starting with the title.

    •  They are using this test for teacher evaluation (5+ / 0-)

      in Chicago. The test is designed to return a measure of student learning which can easily be used to generate value added measures of teacher performance. The teacher evaluations are done based on beginning and end of year tests, but they also give a middle of year test to gauge progress and help teachers tailor to individual student needs (at least in theory). In practice I suspect the midyear test is being used to identify issues like test preparedness and testing conditions that might impact the final performance. That was certainly the case with my daughter's class last year. On the other hand the issues with the test happen to be the same issues that were hampering classroom instruction so the test ended up being a wake up call to the administration that they actually had to respond to the teacher's and parents' requests for additional resources. This testing thing is a very mixed bag.

      •  That is a misapplication of the test. (0+ / 0-)

        There is no objective score to this test. It is relentlessly subjective. So, as you say, Chicago is using this test as some measurement of a teacher's effectiveness. This is a ridiculous notion. That practice is like using a tachometer to measure gas mileage. It does not compute.

        Take the math portion of the test. It measures a student's ability to perform functions such as basic algebra, number sense, basic statistical analysis, geometry, among others.

        There are reading and language portions as well. To define a range of teachers in various subjects on these fundamental metrics casts doubt on the school administration's ability to manage.

        •  They are not using MAP as a high stakes test (0+ / 0-)

          They have the ISAT for that, but they are using the progress measures from MAP averaged over the class as a part of the value added measures for teachers (They test 3 times a year). At least according to the principal's letter my wife was asked to distribute.

          We have had problems with this cohort of students discovering that if they miss the early problems they get a much easier and shorter test, but efforts to get them to make a real effort seem to have paid off. I am trying to get a handle on whether they are actually measuring anything of value are just diverting time and resources from valuable instruction. The educator opinion seems to be divided with some seeing real value in the tests for individual assessment and others just hating on them.

    •  Look on my works ye mighty and despair (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Not A Bot, blueoasis

      Sorry, I just always think of that when I see your user name.

    •  mechanized teaching (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, lippythelion69

      standardized testing is the logical outgrowth of mechanized teaching that treats students as a product.  There's nothing wrong with this approach per se, but I don't really think of teaching as a mechanical process.

      determine if any student has gaps in the knowledge base and weaknesses in definable areas
      You must be a hell of a teacher if your students don't have gaps in their knowledge or weaknesses in definable areas.

      For us mere mortals, learning (and by extension, teaching) is a hit or miss process.  Some ideas make sense, some ideas can be acquired through practice or by rote or other technique, some ideas require time or development and some ideas are just never have a chance of being learned.

      We all want some concrete way to evaluate our schools and teachers, and standardized testing offers that up.  But it does so at a cost of instruction-time, teacher independence, and student interest.  And the truth is that no meaningful test can ever measure what we intend for it to measure.

    •  I share your view (3+ / 0-)

      I cannot speak to how the test is being used in Seattle, or why the teachers are refusing to administer the test.

      I can say that MAP scores indicate a student's instructional level, not a mastery level.  The MAP scores are aligned to a very detailed curriculum framework (called Descartes) which outlines specific skills.  The teacher learns what skills the student scan perform at an approximate 50% success level; in other words, it is there instructional level.  Teachers can target instruction to the level that students are working at.  Not too high which would create frustration and eventual disengagement, not too low thus creating a lack of engagement through boredom, lack of challenge.  I think educational psychologists call this the Zone of Proximal Development.  

      As Ozymandius states, the scores should not factor into student actual grades.  I use the scores for conferencing and have been able to build student self-monitoring skills.  I model how to ask questions about the data and slowly release students to monitor their own data.

      I do use the data to carefully plan for instruction and to review lesson plans to ensure I am continually moving students along the instructional continuum. The MAP data has allowed the course level team to carefully assess and redesign our curriculum.

      Generally, my high school (an urban school with significant challenges) likes the MAP assessment. Having several computer labs closed for testing is a pain, but we have learned to adjust.  Longer range planning is required.  Short of that, we are building a culture of assessment literacy that will allow us to impact student learning.  Once we become experts with assessment, maybe we will begin to see the limits of MAP and decide to develop a different assessment.

  •  Republican profiteers (4+ / 0-)

    just hate uppity teachers more than anything in this world. Hate, hate, hate.

    Thanks for news about the revolt.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:38:09 PM PST

  •  Standardized Tests are NEVER OK (10+ / 0-)

    In Florida, when I was in high school, we had the FCAT. There are SO many issues with the FCAT, but a few things I remember that this article brought up. When I was a senior, we didn't have to take the FCAT, but our room needed to be used for testing, so we had a week of periods (luckily only an hour) in the cafeteria, doing literally nothing.

    On top of that, my 10th grade year, we were the testers for the Science & History portion. The testing was supposed to be an entire day. They told us before the testing began that these scores wouldn't count against us in any way, so naturally, we all finished the test in 5 minutes & wasted away the rest of the day.

    The ONLY reason I think these types of tests exist is so anti-union assholes can get off at the thought of "failing teachers", when the only real failures are the administrators who make students & teachers waste time with these things.

    Follow me on Twitter! @guileofthegods

    by Guile Of The Gods on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:43:30 PM PST

    •  Is it ever brought up (10+ / 0-)

      that maybe part of the reason American students don't perform well on these tests is because they don't give a fuck? These tests have absolutely nothing to offer for the students- college admission is determined by SAT/ACT and GPA, and graduation is just a matter of passing classes. There's enough stupid bullshit heaped on high school students, I don't blame them one bit for blowing these tests off.

      Small varmints, if you will.

      by aztecraingod on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:50:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem with saying that... (3+ / 0-) that then the moronic state legislators, instead of dumping the waste-of-time testing, decide to require that the tests be included in students' grades so that everyone gets punished by the pointless test.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:54:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe in other states, but in Florida (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, Cassandra Waites

        the FCAT is required for graduation. You have to take a certain type almost every year from 4th grade to 10th grade (they skipped a few years when I was in school in the 90/00's). In 10th grade you have 3 chances to pass (10th, 11th, 12th) until they tell you that you aren't able to graduate. But they will literally say 1 day
         "Ok class, it's time to stop our normal learning process because we have to do FCAT learning now" & we would stop learning our current subjects & start practicing for the FCAT, which was especially interesting in MATH when the stuff on the FCAT was ALWAYS from the year before, or stuff we haven't learned yet that we would learn in the next math class.

        All thanks to the Bush brother they called "the dumb one" (Jeb)

        Follow me on Twitter! @guileofthegods

        by Guile Of The Gods on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:55:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  GA's are required too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MPociask, blueoasis

          We didn't stop classes to cover graduation test material.

          We did have questions where doing it the right way would take five times as long as realizing that no, really, they'd only let it be this one answer. So if you'd taken SAT prep, you just got incredible amounts of extra testing time from knowing the tricks they should NOT be pulling on a graduation exam.

          And five-answer analogies with one right answer if you were reading at an eighth-grade level and five right answers if you were reading at the college level.

          And science equations in the front of the test booklet that were incorrect, mislabeled, or both so your graduation standing was based on whether you guessed right about whether the answer key was done using their equations or the ones in the published curriculum standards... which I'm still convinced is the reason for the disparity in cut-off scores between GA Grad Science and the other multiple-choice graduation exams.

          Seriously, it was theoretically easier for a sophomore taking on-level English, science, and math to pass those tests than juniors taking honors and AP courses in the same subjects. And the entire AP-taking population of my high school knew it.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:47:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I used to tank them on purpose. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Guile Of The Gods

        Most of my teachers were assholes and I liked making them look bad.

        I used to just stop at filling in my name.  I wouldn't even pencil in the bubbles.

        Machine gun bullets became the bloody baptizers/ And the falcon 'copters don't care if someone's the wiser/ But the boy in the swamp didn't know he was killed by advisers

        by JesseCW on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:08:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't even take mine (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I worked for the school paper, and we had a perma-hall pass. I would just hang out in the news room and read/goof off.

          Small varmints, if you will.

          by aztecraingod on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:15:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Christmas Treeing, we called it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, blueoasis

          Kids would do it openly at math team meets.

          You could letter in it in a lot, maybe all, of the schools that went to the same meets we did, but it was based on attendance and not on scores. So you'd fill in A-B-C-D-A-B-C-D going down the Scantron sheet. Or A-B-C-D-C-B-A-B-C-D and so on.

          Or make actual Christmas Trees.

          I never did it, but the kids who did talked about it openly at the meets, both in the snack break before the tests or in the gatherings just before the scores were announced later in the evenings.

          Worst they could do was throw you off the team, and no one ever did that. Half the time people only did it because they were just bored that night and the rest of the meets their scores would be more like what their math grades predicted.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:54:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The MAP test (5+ / 0-)

    I could be mistaken, but isn't that this "adaptive" test?  It runs on a computer, and the more answers you get right, the harder the questions get, dynamically, via computer program.

    That thing was a disaster for one of my kids.  They told him "take as much time as you want".

    So, he took days just so he wouldn't get anything wrong.  One time he nearly did it.  He got this super high score (math part), but it took him a long time.  Then, another time, he just broke down in frustration.

    The test goes like this.

    1. Get a correct answer, then the next question gets harder.

    2. Get a wrong answer, then the question gets easier.

    It's the only test I ever heard of where they punish you for getting correct answers.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:46:29 PM PST

    •  I'm generally opposed to standardized tests... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, Sparhawk, Cassandra Waites

      ...but computer-adaptive tests strike me as a better way to test people than the standard examination.

      It's the only test I ever heard of where they punish you for getting correct answers.
      Only if you presume that getting harder questions is "punishment." For me, on standardized tests, my greatest enemy was boredom... I'd miss questions later on in the test because after 100 questions that were well below my skill level, I got so damn bored that my brain started wandering.

      On computer-adaptive tests (like the GRE), the skill level for the questions ramps up to the point where the test stays at least moderately interesting... and when I'm getting harder questions, I know I'm doing something right, which also helps me keep engaged.

      That said, I oppose the ridiculous high-stakes standardized testing systems being implemented in schools these days, because I don't think they're good for judging teachers or schools (which is what they are almost invariably used for).

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:53:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Adaptive tests (4+ / 0-)

        Are, I think, the lesser evil of standardized testing.  The GRE makes intuitive sense, and allows to give far greater precision in scoring.  If you want to see something like it in action, see  It's a vocabulary test.  Rather than give you random words from a bag, the test calibrates around where you are performing, and attempts to make finer graduations.  It's pretty neat.  

        That being said, not sure why we want any standardized tests, anyway.  Let's talk about standardized federal funding of every single school, adjusting for high needs and English as a Second Language students, before we worry about testing, or at least at the same time as.  

      •  One of the other points about the GRE - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it's voluntary, and given to people already nearly through college. And by that point, the test-taker usually already has some experience with the sort of test where not finishing and not getting everything right are built into the design.

        And there are practice tests available so someone can get used to the effect.

        It's a different thing from tossing a small child or even a middle schooler an adaptive test they MUST take and telling them it's Very Important to get the answers right.

        I could tell when the questions adjusted down when I was taking the GRE. Not by much, but it was enough on the math section to let me know before the test was even over that it was possibly a good thing I wasn't taking it for a STEM program.

        I was a perfectionist in elementary, middle, and high school, and I really wish the people around me had seen that my (extremely high) SAT scores and my reactions to their reactions to them were a sign something was not quite right, because as it was it lead me to some not-nice mental places in grad school and now that I'm trying to get published.

        Throwing me an adaptive test back then, before I was old enough to really understand the concepts involved behind standardized testing styles, and forcing me to take it as a Very Important Thing? I don't think guidance counselors at the elementary and middle school levels get paid enough to deal with the reaction I would have had if I thought the questions were getting nicer mid-test.

        Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

        by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:05:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Although I've never taken an adaptive test... (0+ / 0-)

        ...they seem unreasonable to me.

        On "standard" format tests, you can skip a question and come back to it later when it strikes you what the correct approach is. This is really more like real life - there are often several aspects to a problem to solve and the order you do them is often not important.  In adaptive tests, you don't have that opportunity and if you miss a question, you get steered onto a "detour" for a while and waste time recovering (if it's even possible to do that fully).

        I suppose such tests are more "gentle" to the test taker's ego (until they get the final score) as even the less successful students feel they are getting quite a few right -- they just don't realize they are getting "dumbed down" questions that have reduced value in the final score.

    •  My kids have told me the same thing (4+ / 0-)

      about these tests being adaptive like that. It's as if someone abdicated the whole notion of setting academic standards and left it up to some ill conceived algorithm. Whoever sold this crapware to schools is a first class con artist.

      This whole backwards reward / punishment conditioning is something that a lab rat might be subjected to. My kids told me that no one they know takes these tests seriously. If that's the case you would think that it would have been thrown out long ago.


      by rightiswrong on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It does not have to be a disaster. (0+ / 0-)

      MAP is an adaptive test. The proctor's manual explicitly says that there is no time limit on these tests. I personally have sat in a room with students who took nearly three hours to complete the math portion of MAP.

      I would encourage you not to think of the adaptive aspect of the test as "punishment." The instrument wants to measure the extent of a person's abilities.

      Your son, if challenged with this kind of evaluation again, should  not worry about getting wrong answers. Standard test taking skills should apply. But the very nature of the test as a measure of fundamental cognitive processing and academic skills will not impact his grade.

    •  As far as I understand them... (0+ / 0-)'s not really fair to say that the test taker is punished for getting a problem correct. By getting a problem correct they no longer have to slog through the easy problems of that form and have another level of opportunity opened to them to excel while getting an answer wrong may forever close that door in that test.

      In any event, I'm pretty sure I would hate the things. I would rather have all the possible problems in front of me with some sort of weighting shown so hard problems would get, say, a weight of 5 and easy problems a weight of 1. I can then decide to start by attacking the hard problems because I know the material well enough that that's were the best "bang for the buck" is if time becomes an issue.

  •  I want to know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Possiamo, Cassandra Waites, blueoasis

    how much money each school district in North Carolina spends on standardized testing.  I suspect that the amount would astound people.  That money would be better spent on TEACHERS teaching instead of having to teach to a test that proves NOTHING.

    Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

    by Caniac41 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:51:24 PM PST

    •  We figure for a school of 250 kids (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, Cassandra Waites, blueoasis

      we have an administrator spending 40-50 hours just on the organization aspects - scheduling the tests, ordering the tests, receiving the tests and parceling them out for the teachers, packing them back up and sending them out to be scored, etc.

      That's 40 hours that that person isn't spending with students, and it doesn't count the lost instructional time for teachers or their test-specific prep time.

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

      by elfling on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Trustworthy Test (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, Not A Bot, janislav

    "The problem we have today is we don’t have a really good test that we can trust."

    Actually, there IS such a test in existence.  It is the Iowa Tests of Educational Development, or ITED.  It was created in 1942, so it has a track record.  I was born and raised in Iowa, so I took it each year when I was in high school.  I also taught high school in Iowa, so I proctored it three times.

    One feature about the test that I remember after all these years is how comprehensive it is.  It covers a very wide scope of knowledge.  Speaking as both a student who took the test and as a proctor who administered it, I truly don't see any way that a teacher can teach to the test.  It simply assesses each student's educational progress at the time that the test is given.  When I was involved with the test, there was a square on the answer sheet that if it were darkened, the test could give a student's IQ or an approximation thereoif.  The test was valid, reliable, and well designed.

    There are GOOD standardized tests available that do the job that they were designed to do.  School districts simply need to do some research and commit to refusing to purchase a pig in a poke.

    •  Better test if the forms are randomized in dist... (0+ / 0-)

      We had one of two ITBS forms every time I took it, and the form letter was high enough there HAD to be at least 8 or 9 versions. And one of them we only had once.

      The last time I took it, I'd read the essays so many times that my reading comprehension scores were based on me not reading the essays within a year and a half of the test date, I was that sick of them. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who pulled that, and I'm fairly certain that even now, over a decade and a half later, I could still score well on the same questions without seeing the essays again.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:11:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The different forms of tests differ on field test (0+ / 0-)

        items only. As a teacher, I often wondered why there were different forms. It turns out that there are 2 groups of questions on most standardized tests:

        1. Questions that count towards a score for anyone taking the test. These questions typically amount to about 90% of a typical standardized test.

        2. Questions that don't count towards a score for those taking the test. THese questions typically amount to about 10% of a typical standardized test. These are so-called "field test" items.

        What are field test items, you ask? Each year the state department of education that gives the test also wants to develop new questions for use on future standardized tests. The new questions are most often written by teachers in the state after being trained by the contracted assessment company. These questions typically go through a lengthy process of review by the assessment company as well as by teacher panels in the state where the test is used. Those questions that survive the rather lengthy and rigorous process become potential "field test" items.

        The inclusion of field test items in a standardized test allows for statistical analysis of each individual item to determine if it is a good item in terms of difficulty, content focus, etc. The field test items are buried in the standardized test so that students will devote the same effort to the few items that do not count as they devote to those items that do count. The statistics derived from a field test allow the test developers and state departments of education to judge whether the specific item is appropriate for use in a future test, where it would count.

        So to summarize, test forms are different only in the handfuls of field test items, which are being developed for future tests, and those items do not count on the test score a student receives.

        •  Knowing that they use the same damn essays (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for all ITBS-takers in all grade levels makes me feel worse about it, not better.

          I probably got a few grade levels worth of score jump on the Reading sections based on having really detailed memories.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:17:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tests developed for different grades would be (0+ / 0-)

            entirely different. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. At a specific grade level only the field test items differ among forms. ITBS essays would almost certainly differ by grade level, but I can't state that as a fact. Hope that helps.

            •  They don't. (0+ / 0-)

              Same essays, third through sixth when I took it in the '90s.

              2+2 was even the same question each time in one of the math sections - that one I mentally tracked because having it in the middle of much more advanced arithmetic problems seemed so insulting.

              Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

              by Cassandra Waites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:38:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  That's where my kid goes (0+ / 0-)

    it's a good school in the middle of a good sizedcity.  A lot of challenges there.


    by otto on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:10:10 PM PST

  •  GO TEACHERS!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, blueoasis

    I have family in Seattle.  I hope that this rebellion inspires some reform.

  •  Lexile Levels (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While I agree that the overall test does not have a great correspondence to the new Common Core, and therefore sections such as Science and Math should probably be ignored, the ELA section is good if the schools are not already collecting Lexile Levels via a different method (such as SRI).  Lexile levels correspond to students GLE (grade level equivalent) and are used for all courses under the new CC standards.  As a middle school administrator I can say that this would be the only useful part of the NWEA, unless of course you were still using their antiquated idea of comparing schools based on material that isn't expected to be covered, which would be useless.

    "Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good." - Mr. Feeny

    by Andrew Hodges on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:30:39 PM PST

    •  NWEA makes a big deal about testing to Common Core (0+ / 0-)

      As a parent I don't have a very good window on the actual merits of the test itself, and our elementary school is only beginning to implement Common Core. Is your criticism that they are not actually incorporating CC standards or that historically they have been behind the curve or just generally that the NWEA tests are not well constructed. My daughter is in a gifted program and consistently maxes out on standardized test scores of all kinds, but that does seem to result in a bit more responsive differentiation than otherwise. While teacher assessment based on classroom assessments is great for determining whether the teacher's lessons are being mastered, it is not particularly useful for recognizing that some students need an entirely different curriculum or level of instruction (either higher or lower) and these adaptive tests help to get teachers to recognize those sometimes dramatic disparities.

      •  NWEA isn't included in curriculum maps (0+ / 0-)

        Therefore the content tested isn't necessarily taught in classes.  Unless the schools/district have a great plan on how to analyze and utilize the data the testing is not necessarily beneficial for most areas, except the aforementioned Lexile levels.  If the content tested was accompanied by a list of standards that it correlates to and/or objectives to teach to include in a curriculum map it would therefore be useful.

        "Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good." - Mr. Feeny

        by Andrew Hodges on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:13:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not the Revolution the Right wanted... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..but it's great to see the Teachers coming out waving Rulers and throwing Chalk at the enemy! Go forth and slay the testing industry for all their failings! Pleeassseee!!!!

    Even in jest it's nice to see Teachers putting forth a concerted effort to protect our schools and students from inept measures of aptitude. Almost makes you want to adapt the Japanese standard of testing.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:46:32 PM PST

  •  FYI: MAP stands for Measure of Academic Progress (0+ / 0-)

    (not Academy).

    Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

    by 50sbaby on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:24:58 PM PST

  •  I confess my thoughts about standardized tests (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood

    have altered a bit since moving overseas and putting my kids (by necessity) in private int'l schools.

    Our first, in Nepal, had standardized tests (Iowa and another that escapes me now).  Our current school uses MAP tests and another specifically for int'l schools, in only certain grades.  Our school just before this one, in Chiang Mai, did no standardized testing at all.  And our school in Ethiopia used a fairly crappy test that really was comparing apples and oranges, but as a way of making our school look great, and not for any real feedback of any use that I could tell, along with the ISA test for int'l schools.

    Our experience at the latter two schools made us see some value for two reasons - first, we could tell at one school that math performance for kids was really quite unacceptable and worsened after 2-3 years at the school if you paid careful attention to the data they were showing the parents (though we did learn from the parent sessions that the school got some pretty robust breakdowns of the data in ways that were probably useful).  Second, you could, from the ISA test, get some sense of the strength of the schools - not perfect sense of course - but some feedback, and when we're paying $25k (or our employer was) for a school, and have little choice once you move there, you want to know how it's doing, and that's just one small bit of information.  Our school in Chiang Mai - well, there were probably good reasons for not doing the testing, lack of funding, and lack of real concern on academic performance being part of them.  And something that would have been better to know sooner than later.

    Still.  I think I would have very different views in public schools in the US.  I think we all would agree the teachers are doing one of the most important jobs, usually with salaries that are too low, and with too few good resources to help them.  We'd all want to be sure our kids are getting the most out of their educational opportunities, and that if there are problems, they should be dealt with and the situation improved.  How to do that, I'm really not sure, but I can concede a big test isn't going to do the job as well as more resources and more individualized attention and time.

    I appreciate these diaries because they not only point out issues with the tests my kids take, but also help me understand the different viewpoints on how we can improve education, which is something all of us want.

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