What if we gave a test and everyone passed? That should be the goal! If that happened, however, instead of celebrating that success, policymakers likely would have the test-makers create harder tests. The reason is pretty clear: standardized tests primarily are for controlling education, not educating students.
Standardized tests measure student performance, identify “failing” schools and help evaluate teachers, all with the goal of increasing student achievement. This is a rather indirect and uncertain route for achieving that goal. To be managerially effective and fulfill their purpose, standardized tests cannot be designed for all students to pass them — some have to fail them.
Even though standardized tests primarily measure how large groups of students perform, the test items can represent specific learning objectives. Individual responses can, therefore, indicate what students know or don’t know. This can be useful information, but it doesn’t tell why they answered incorrectly, nor does it indicate how to best instruct them. (read more…)
Fall is here and the students are nestled safely back in your classroom. As teachers dutifully monitor the halls of their schools, some may suddenly become their conservative grandparents, shocked by the lack of clothing some students wear these days. Fashion has changed so rapidly from the days in school when parachute pants and Michael Jackson t-shirts were a principal’s main concern. Have you become the dress code police?
School dress code issues are not new to this generation and are not something to be taken lightly. Courts have weighed in on dress code debates for decades from t-shirt slogans to lengths of haircuts. Dress code issues were once often embedded war protests or doubled as political statement. However, today’s fashion generally rises and falls according to pop culture and reality TV stars. There is a magnitude of constitutional issues that exist within dress code policies. A policy that is too vague can cause confusion, while a policy that is too strict can cause conflict with the First Amendment. (read more…)
Over the last four years, states and school districts across America have embraced an enormous set of urgent challenges with real courage: raising standards to prepare young people to compete in the global economy, developing new assessments, rebuilding accountability systems to meet the needs of each state and better serve at-risk students, and adopting new systems of support and evaluation for teachers and principals. Meeting this historic set of challenges all at once asks more of everybody, and it’s a tribute to the quality of educators, leaders, and elected officials across this country that so many have stepped up.
One crucial change has been the state-led effort to voluntarily raise standards. That effort dates back to 2006, when a bipartisan core of leaders — governors, state superintendents, business people — came together because they recognized that America’s students needed to be prepared to compete in a global economy that demanded more than basic skills. (read more…)
New York is the first state to “align” their standardized testing program to what they believe to be the intent of the Common Core State Standards. Their 2013 test, designed by Pearson, was administered over three days in mid-April to grades 3-8.
Within the first two days of testing stories emerged that students were in sessions crying, leaving rooms ill, and not finishing. Teachers complained of confusing questions and overly challenging passages that did not match the grade for which they were created. In one response, Merryl Tisch, the State Board of Regents Chancellor who oversaw the creation of NYS’s testing program, said she visited schools during testing and reported that she only saw “one” student crying and believes that children not being able to finish the test is a “healthy problem.”
The conversation: What we gain and what we lose with current testing
I am not [yet] suggesting all of this testing is terrible, because honestly I do not know. (read more…)
Our nation is deep in a conversation about the role of standardized testing in our education system. Where are we now?
It is more than a decade since NCLB reforms gave us annual testing and required schools to publicly report their data. In general, individual state scores increased during that time (though this conclusion is not without controversy).
So cause for cheers, yes? Hooray America! Marching band down Fifth Avenue!
Why no! — record scratch — the United States is far behind in international achievement and our domestic growth is stunted.
At least that’s what we’ve been told recently. ExxonMobil has been running this commercial. Media outlets report our international comparisons, the Common Core State Standards cite international testing as influential in their development, and Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein (of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) dramatically cited our failures to compete globally in their “U.S. Education Reform and National Security” report. (read more…)