Do school board directors have any idea what the “high stakes tests” like the SBAC are really like?
On April 2nd 2016 we emailed EVERY school director in SWW this document: SWW_School_Board_SBAC_Policy
In this document we challenge them to take the 8th grade practice testing for SBAC and share their scores with us so we can share them with the public. The old adage “If it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander” is true. How can the people in charge of demanding students take an exam that has no validity, no proof of value, has no benchmarks, can’t be compared to any past test, takes precious time away from teaching, adds costs and creates stress….for no value…how can those “leaders” make the demand?
If you agree with us then please reach out to your local school board directors and “DEMAND” that they walk the talk…when you do let us know your thoughts and the response.
March 26, 2016 This is a Common Core testing link update. The following links will take you to examples of the CC testing questions:
Stand for Children – Washington from their blog post Jan 29, 2016
Nine Reasons Why Assessments Matter
In this blog post the group lays out nine (9) reason why high stakes testing is needed, important and of value. We choose to disagree with their reasons and share our thoughts.
The following is a partial post from another blog site. The link to the full article is in the title above. It will take 5 minutes to read but well worth your time. This is a School Board member who stepped away from the group and pursued truth on his own.
In December, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education sent a letter out to all “Chief State School Officers” (i.e., state superintendents) in order to “take this opportunity to remind you of key assessment requirements that exist under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA). These requirements will remain in place for the 2015-2016 school year, and similar requirements are included in the recently signed reauthorization of the ESEA, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).“
One of Ohio’s State School Board Members, A. J. Wagner, decided to respond to the letter (as an individual, not in his official capacity) and posted his outstanding reply on Facebook. We’ve decided to share both the letter from the USDoE and Retired Judge Wagner’s response here for a well-deserved wider audience. [Click the link above in the title]
Washington State SBAC testing schedule (OSPI). If the districts follow this then it should be accurate:
This story was published in The Washington Post on January 22, 2016. You can read it in PDF format by clicking the link. There is a video embedded in the document that you can watch:
http://www.swweducation.org/?p=1324 Don’t take the SAT in 2016
Here are some links to articles written by teachers and parents across the United States in which they share their finds and experiences regarding dealing with the Common Core tests (SBAC or PARCC). We offer these so you can read for yourself:
What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test – This is an article in March 2015 by a Seattle mother.
No, the Common Core SBAC test is not like having a blood test – This is written by a Connecticut parent in March 2015
From a story in the Washington Post. I’ll share some of the opening comments and then you can click the link to read the rest. After you give it a read stop back by and share your thoughts…
It’s no secret that for some years now, kindergarten, once a time when youngsters spent the day learning through structured play, has become focused on academics, forcing young kids to sit in their chairs working for far longer than many are developmentally ready to handle. Along with that work has come tests and more tests, some standardized, some not. What you may not have heard much about is test prep for these youngsters. Yes, test prep for 5-year-olds is a real thing. Phyllis Doerr, a kindergarten teacher in New Jersey, explains what it looks like in this post, a version of which appeared in the News Record, the local paper of South Orange and Maplewood, NJ.
Following is the link to the teachers article.
This is a paper (it’s long – about 30 pages) that gives a good overview of the various terms, definitions and details about testing. It explains the statistical side of things and tries to provide some useful information.
The Washington Post (click to take you to the article)
Curious about the Common Core tests that have generated so much debate and so many low scores in recent months? Now you can check them out yourself.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, has released hundreds of test questions that were given to students in 2015 — roughly equivalent to a full test’s worth for each grade level and subject.
[To take a 10-question PARCC quiz, click here or scroll to the bottom of this story.]
In math, some of the questions will look familiar to anyone who’s taken a standardized test in the last 20 years:
Other questions show how this new test departs from the old multiple-choice fare. Like the third-grade math problem below, PARCC often demands that students not just answer questions but also explain their thinking:
In language arts, parents and teachers will need to do extra research, in many cases, in order to fully understand what is being asked. Many questions are based on literary passages that PARCC has withheld due to copyright issues.
For example, a dozen narrative writing questions for third-graders are based on a story that teachers and parents can’t actually read online. PARCC urges a visit to the library to find a 14-year-old edition of Ladybug magazine:
In other cases, parents and teachers can see both the passage and the questions. For example, third graders are asked to do a “research simulation task” by reading two passages about the Arctic [viewable here] and then answering a series of questions, including the one below:
PARCC officials said they want to make the test less mysterious for parents, and they want to give teachers tools to better understand what students are expected to know. Besides test questions, PARCC is also releasing scoring guides and actual student responses that have been scored.
“This is a great opportunity to be transparent so assessment isn’t a black box,” said Laura Slover, the chief executive of the nonprofit that manages the PARCC exam.
The PARCC tests have come under fire for their length and technical glitches and for efforts by their test publisher, Pearson, to crack down on cheating via social media.
Some communities have come to see PARCC as a symbol of federal overreach (PARCC is one of two groups of states that got hundreds of millions of dollars to develop new tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, but it is not a federal program), and some see it as emblematic of an overemphasis on standardized testing in America’s schools.
Fewer than half of the states originally part of PARCC — 11 states and the District of Columbia — were still on board when the online tests rolled out this spring. Since then, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Ohio all have dropped out and just seven states and the District plan to give the test in 2015-2016, raising questions about whether the consortium is in danger of completely falling apart.
To see how you might do with PARCC questions, here’s a 10-question fifth-grade math quiz (or if you’re reading on a cell phone, click here):
President Obama recently announced that he has decreed that schools are doing too much testing. Interesting given the growth in testing in the past 7 years of the administration. One might wonder why the sudden change in heart. Following is an article that suggests there is more to this than meets the eye. The original article can be seen at: EducationalAlchemy
Is Obama’s Testing Action Plan, like Fruit Loops, part of a nutritious breakfast? Don’t believe the hype.
This has been over a decade in the making. In 2000 Business Week listed the companies benefiting from the new boon in online education stating, “Dozens of new companies are springing up to serve the emerging K-12 market for digital learning. Investors have poured nearly $1 billion into these companies since the beginning of 1999, estimates Merrill Lynch.”
Obama’s “Testing Action Plan” declares a reduction in standardized testing! Is less testing a good thing? Yes, of course it is! But what are we getting in its stead? The privatizers are hoping we aren’t asking that, or hoping we won’t look. But we are looking and we are asking. These are the same folks who are driving the policies to privatize public education. What do they gain for reducing testing? Our trust? It makes them look good. And they hope it gets “us” off “their backs.” But what are we getting in exchange for this?
Remember…the same folks crafting test and punish want to privatize public education. That is their goal. We are getting rid of over-testing – yes….that is good. BUT … In lieu of that we are now going to have states outsource the “innovative” outcomes-based assessments to the edu-tech industry. Their mission accomplished. Federally mandated testing was getting too much heat. So they’ve built a better mouse trap. One they hope we will not recognize.
If the reduction or elimination of federal standardized testing were the GOAL of United Opt Out National we would find greater cause to feel hopeful. But we believe that HST was/is merely an instrument toward privatization (profit) and therefore testing refusal is a strategy to dismantle corporate reform. But corporate reformers have not put down their weapons. They have changed weapons…and strategy. Our goal is not ending testing. Our goal is protecting children, public schools and democratic educational practices. And so our fight wages on with a new face.
This is what the “Testing Action Plan” (TAP) says:
The new plan will “include competency-based assessments, innovative item types.” It states also “The Department will also share tools already available to do this work, including The Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Comprehensive Statewide Assessment Systems: A Framework for the Role of the State Education Agency in Improving Quality and Reducing Burden and Achieve’s Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts.”
This is what it means:
Remember CCSSO? They are the ones who crafted the Common Core State Standards. The standards were developed to create a “standardized” system that allows third-party companies to develop systems for outsourcing education. Now with a set of “national” standards as benchmarks, instruction can be metered out by online edu-tech companies who provide new “competency” based instruction and assessment. No teacher required.
In 2010, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (who supported Common Core) convened the Digital Learning Council, a diverse group of more than 100 leaders in education, government, philanthropy, business, technology and members of policy think tanks led by Co-Chairmen Jeb Bush, and Bob Wise (both integral in the creation and promotion of Common Core). It’s an ALEC model-endorsed comprehensive framework of state-level policiesand actions “designed to advance the meaningful and thoughtful integration of technology into K12 public education.”
This idea is stated again toward the end of the Testing Action Plan (TAP): “Congress should continue to require the Department to work with external assessment experts to ensure states are using high-quality assessments that arealigned with state-developed standards and valid for the purposes for which they are used.”
“…the Department granted a temporary waiver to New Hampshire to pilot a competency-based assessment system in four districts ….” as a way to set a national example, (and), “The Department will work with external assessment experts…”
What this means:
The department will outsource education curriculum and assessment to corporations just like it did in NH where they “…have adopted unique and innovative learning approaches, such as digital learning, that create a more flexible learning schedule that extends beyond the school day.”
EXTERNAL assessment experts. Why? State depts of education already hire folks with years of experience and/or PhDs in curriculum and evaluation. WHY do we need “external” experts? Who are they? And who defines their “expertise”?
The Alliance for Excellent Education (Bob Wise serves as president) in 2013 stated: “Competency-based advancement is an important part of New Hampshire’s strategy for implementing the Common Core State Standards.”
“The Department will be part of the community of researchers, technologists, and innovators within the assessment community who are piloting new models, by providing federal funding and incentives for these next-generation assessments and by, where feasible, removing policy barriers to advance this goal.”
What this means:
Researchers: Think-tanks funded by the corporations who profit from their “recommendations” like Alliance for Excellent Education who promoted the NH policies touted in the TAP. Also, Knowledge Works , who wrote a policy brief back in 2013 promoting “competency-based” policies for the role of the U.S. Dept of Education.
Technologists: Online education companies, as mentioned above, such as KnowledgeWorks (the ones writing the policy recommendation) who state, “Since our founding in 2000, KnowledgeWorks has evolved first from an involved philanthropy focused exclusively in Ohio to become an operating foundation and finally a social enterprise engaged in work across the United States.”
Or, CCSSO Innovation Labs: “The goal of the ILN is to spur system-level change by scaling locally-led innovation to widespread implementation” Innovators: For-profit enterprises who receive your tax payers dollars to have your child’s educational services outsourced to them. And here’s that ”next generation” language again (stated in TAP) mirrored from Alliance for Excellent Education (2013): “… the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are working to develop next generation assessments, as well asreal-time digital assessment systems, all of which are aligned with the new the Common Core State Standards.
Removal of Barriers: Thanks ALEC.
“Invest in innovative assessments: Congress should provide dedicated competitive funding for states with new ideas to develop innovative ways to measure student learning.”
What This Means:
Monies will be directed toward private companies who will be hired by states to implement online education and assessment services.
Here it is stated again: “developing innovative new assessment instruments, such as performance and technology-based academic assessments.”
Here’s how your child’s learning will be assessed in this next generation:
“Further instructional technology advances will ensure ever more sophisticated learning platforms and data systems that not only more efficiently identify student needs, but also more effectively identify and deliver matching interventions from a repository of adaptive software, engaging digital content and instructor-delivered resources (online and face-to-face) not otherwise available through traditional means. The maturity of data interoperability and content portability standards will enable educators, students, and software applications to assemble ever more unique, best of breed resources customized to each student.”
“This review process must respond to changes in the field, such as accounting for the increased prevalence of the use of technology-based assessments as well as techniques for demonstrating their technical quality …This could include competency-based assessments, innovative item types (and) … using technology to administer and score assessments …”
What This Means: Computers will determine what children should learn, how they learn, why they should learn, and who they are as learners.
Scratch away all of the other words used for window dressing. Distill the document down to its essence (i.e how many times is something repeated or rephrased). Hold it up against Alexander’s ESEA language and you get a clear picture: WE WILL GET RID OF UNNECESSARY FEDERAL TESTING (not to actually re empower teachers and recreate meaningful learning) BUT TO MAKE WAY FOR THE INFUSION OF ONLINE AND TECHNOLOGY BASED LEARNING OUTSOURCED BY STATES TO PROFIT-DRIVEN COMPANIES. WE CALL IT OUTCOMES –BASED. WE CALL IT INNOVATION. OUTSOURCING WILL BE CALLED “EXTERNAL EXPERTS.”
What they call it behind closed doors is PROFITS AND PRIVATIZATION. Alexander’s ESEA revisions are leading the way.
Sure, it’s hard to imagine that schools, especially in well-off suburban neighborhoods would permit their teachers to be replaced with technology. Or their children’s education to be outsourced to online companies. But more and more technology is infused with classroom learning and its becoming “normalized” gradually. Some states require kids to take at least one on-line course in high school. But the best weapon privatizers have at their disposal is our disbelief that “it could happen.” The words “that’ll never happen” are the hallmark of nearly every horrifying affront to democracy and human rights we’ve seen happen in modern history. I go with what history has to show. “Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth-really seen it-you cannot look way” (Kostova, 2005).
Who is bending the ear and wallet of YOUR STATE-LEVEL POLICY MAKERS to determine WHAT performance-based assessments will look like? You? Or, the corporations who are in bed with ALEC (which meets with state legislators behind closed door to craft model legislation)? How often do WE get to meet behind closed doors with legislators? Who do you think they will LISTEN to?
For those of you who have seen the testing results for SBAC in Washington State here is some data from New Jersey which uses the sister test called PARCC. Please note that New Jersey, in the 2013-2014 school year, spent ~$19,000 per student which is almost 2x what is spent per student in the Battle Ground School District. This article can be seen in it’s entirety at: True New Jersey
The testing results for Washington State and New Jersey are similar so money may not be the answer. It may be that the testing itself is flawed.
The majority of New Jersey students in grades 3 through 11 failed to meet grade-level expectations on controversial math and English tests the state says provide the most accurate measurement of student performance yet.
New Jersey on Tuesday released the preliminary statewide results of the new online tests, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams, revealing that more than half of the students in every grade level failed to meet expectations in math.
Students who took the test last spring also struggled to meet the benchmarks set in English, with no more than 52 percent of students in any grade level meeting expectations, which were set by the consortium of states that participated in PARCC.
New Jersey’s results are similar to the other PARCC states that already released results and also saw most students miss the benchmarks for achievement.
Students receive a score on a scale of one to five. Those receiving a score of 4 or 5 are considered to be performing at their grade level and thereby meeting expectations.
Students who receive a 3 are considered to be approaching expectations, and state officials said many of those students may actually be on track, despite their score.
Overall, the results show that high school graduation requirements are not rigorous enough for most students to be successful after graduation, state Education Commissioner David Hespe said. The 2014-15 results set a new baseline for improving student achievement, he said.
“There is still much work to be done in ensuring all of our students are fully prepared for the 21st century demands of college and career,” Hespe said.
The scores were announced at New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company in Ewing, and representatives from New Jersey colleges spoke about the importance of preparing students for college and beyond.
But state officials also stressed that scores are typically low when a new test is given in the first year. Students do not need to meet expectations on PARCC in order to move to the next grade level or graduate.
“Ultimately, PARCC is just a test,” Hespe said.
The PARCC exams are aligned to the Common Core curriculum standards, which emphasize problem solving and critical thinking. The exams, which debuted in New Jersey and about 10 other states last spring, were perhaps the most controversial in state history.
Critics, including the state’s largest teachers union, questioned the validity of the new tests and bemoaned the time schools spent on test preparation and administration, saying students lost valuable classroom time.
Some parents and students also complained that the tests were overly confusing and questioned whether students were being set up to fail. The backlash led to an “opt-out” movement, and nearly 15 percent of New Jersey high school juniors refused to take the exams.
The New Jersey Education Association, which waged an expensive television advertising campaign against PARCC, said the tests reveal little about student performance.
“Parents and policymakers alike should be very careful about drawing any conclusions from the data released today,” NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said.
Before the results were announced, parent group Save Our Schools NJ had already deemed the data worthless.
“PARCC results mean absolutely nothing,” the group said in a statement.
Results for individual schools and students will not be released until next month. Student performance on PARCC will count as a 10 percent factor in some teachers evaluations.
New Jersey students scored lower on PARCC than they did on the prior state exams, the New Jersey Assesment of Skills and Knowledge and the High School Proficiency Assessment.
About 66 percent of third through eighth grade students were rated either proficient or advanced in language arts on the 2013-14 NJ ASK exam, and about 74 percent were proficient or advanced in math.
Nearly 85 percent of students who took HSPA in 2013-14 were proficient or advanced in math and 93 were proficient in English.
But state officials said there is no way to compare PARCC scores to prior tests, which were aligned to different academic standards.
“We have to be very careful when we take one test results and compare it to another,” Hespe said.
However, the state did point to other tests that measure career and college readiness and provided similar results for New Jersey students, including the SAT and ACT.
Only 44 percent of students who took the SAT in 2015 met the standards for career and college readiness, Assistant Education Commissioner Bari Erlichson said.