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View Diary: Seattle teachers refuse to give flawed standardized test (121 comments)

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  •  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:
      blueoasis

      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

      ...live 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 http://www.bls.gov/...

        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.

            http://www.wivb.com/...

            (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:
            MPociask
            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-)

              ...my, 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

          worth?

          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:
        blueoasis

        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:
            WillR
            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 ]

                      •  Thank you, and I also appreciate (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Buckeye Nut Schell

                        your patience and clarity because these are difficult issues with our children's well-being at stake. I think most of us work with the assumption that we want the same things and that we're all trying to get there together for our kids' sake.

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