Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Value Added Measurement: Wanted Professional Palm Reader

Want to bet on a horse? Put your trust in a bookie whose job it is to predict winners after studying potential to win based on breeding, training, and standings in recent races. Want to invest in the stockmarket? Put your trust in a stockbroker whose job it is to predict companies that show signs of being a good investment, with potential growth, and a stable financial structure.

Want to know about a child's school achievement. Put your trust in an algorithm, a formula which will predict how much progress the student should make based on a complicated equation of 10 factors, but do not ask how it works. Florida determined that socio-economics would not be included as one of the 10 predicting factors.

StateImpact Florida and the Miami Herald
went looking for some explanation on how it will work and they got this answer:
"No lay person, teacher or reporter can understand it. So just trust us."

This formula will be used in Florida as the basis for merit pay this way:
The formula is designed to predict how students will score on the state’s standardized exam—the FCAT. And then it adjusts teachers’ pay depending on how well their students measure up against that predicted score.

Until recently, for $190 Chinese parents signed their children up for "palm-reading tests that could allegedly tell a child's intelligence and professional aptitude." Palm-reading tests have been determined to be pseudoscience and Chinese educational authorities banned the practice.

"Predicting is not an equation."

Related posts:
SB736/HB7019: The trouble with value-added measurement
NUT Report: "We have to do something."

Student Data Collection: Purpose, Costs, Risks?

Monday, February 20, 2012

California: Bringing Parent Opposition and Resistance Out of the Shadows

San Diego parents oppose state mandated assessment and invoke parent rights. They publish their letter to the school and publish their letter.

February 16, 2012
Bill Kowba
Superintendent of Schools
San Diego Unified School District
4100 Normal Street, Room 2219
San Diego, CA 92103

Dear Mr. Kowba,

Please accept this letter as our request to excuse our daughter, Ruby, from participation in standardized achievement testing as is allowed in §60615 of the California Education Code. This request includes the state mandated assessments of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment program (STAR/CAT 6), which will begin for our daughter in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the San Diego Unified School District Benchmark Exam program.

We believe such testing to be unjust, counter-productive, and harmful to the education and development of our daughter; we do not see any intrinsic value in our six-year old spending time transcribing her answers from a test sheet to a Scantron. Timed, one-chance tests do not show regard to variables in context or circumstance affecting student performance on the days of testing. This is further underscored by the fact that, as a student of the Language Academy, our child is currently forced to take tests in English, a language she isn’t yet learning to read.

In addition, we do not wish to participate in mandated programs that coerce school districts into compliance with punishments that adversely affect the resources, standing, and operations of our locally controlled pubic schools. The state oversteps its bounds and does a disservice to the public when it ignores professionals in local schools, arbitrarily making educational decisions (funding, status, and otherwise) based solely upon these one-chance tests.

As parents, we resent being held hostage to tests—which cannot be cheap to administer—while simultaneously suffering absurd cuts to our school, cuts that continue to decimate our staff and much-needed resources.

We understand that it is an educator’s professional duty to assess the learning of each student in the classroom and we fully support our teachers, our principal and our staff. This request is not intended to restrict professional assessment (formative or summative) by the classroom teacher to which our child is assigned. On the contrary, we believe our talented teacher is our child’s benchmark, and that she has the skills and training to do what standardized tests cannot.

Best regards,.....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ed Reform Storm Clouds Gathering

South Carolina made news this week in a well-attended State Senate meeting regarding a bill that would reverse the state's 2010 decision to implement the Common Core standards. Senator Mike Fair opposes the implementation stating it takes away local control. An AP report on the proposed bill got national coverage in Education Week and a mention by Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute in a piece called "War Against the Core". McCluskey wonders if the Palmetto State has a "huge desire to withdraw."

The AP report also got state coverage in the Post and Courier stating that Governor Niki Haley supports the bill "as an extension of her frequent complaints of federal overreaching." S.C. State School Superintendent Mick Zais also does not support the decision made prior to his election; however, he is committed to implementing the decision as required.

The meeting described as full, with standing room only. Testimony favoring the standards came from South Carolina educators who have been preparing for implementation since the 2010 decision. They expressed concerns about a rollback now and based on their experience working with the standards, they find them to be "good standards."

On the other side, testimony was presented from the following prominent conservative think tanks, all opposing the implementation of the Common Core standards:

1) Jim Stergios from the Pioneer Institute
2) Bill Evers from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University
3) Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project

Time ran out before all who wished to give testimony were able to and the meeting will continue February 23.

In an Op-Ed "Rotten to the (Common) Core", Furman University Professor Paul Thomas explains that the Common Core standards require additional testing and increased costs:

"New tests also create hidden and recurring costs despite claims that computer-based testing will save printing and scoring costs of traditional testing. Those hidden costs include both additional funds (such as insuring all schools have the technology to test all students) and most importantly costs in time. Teachers must be trained directly and spend time learning the standards themselves while a tremendous amount of instructional time will be replaced by yet more teaching to the test and, with the new regime of testing, more testing days throughout the entire school year."

Professor Thomas continues by noting that "SC public education is not now and has never been failing due to a lack of quality standards or high-quality tests. Curriculum (standards), instruction, and testing are the elements within the teaching process, but they are not learning. And not one of these elements should be confused for learning."

Professor Thomas believes that learning is "stifled in SC by the inequitable and often deplorable teaching and learning conditions in many schools," which will not be addressed by new standards and computer-based testing.

Stay tuned......

Colorado: Parents Oppose Excessive Testing

In their own voices, parents speak out against excessive testing and test-centric instructional environments, one by one.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Indiana: Bring parent opposition to excessive standardized testing out of the shadows

Yesterday, Grumpy Educators reported on Texas concerns of the testing "perversion."

Today, the highlight is on Indiana and parents who are organizing in opposition to testing.

Parent rights are at the heart of the issue. State Impact reported the story including Indiana Department of Education official Stephanie Sample response this way:

"parents do not have a legal right to opt their children out of testing. State law requires each student be tested, department officials say."

Really? From coast to coast, parents are fed up with classrooms converted into test prep centers instead of centers of learning. Indiana legislators have no answers to their participation in perpetuating this "perversion."