Another bite at pricier tests

another bite

Turns out that my inbox was full of articles about the latest testing controversy: the common core assessments, touted as more comprehensive and less focused on rote learning, will also be much, much more expensive to administer.

Again, this is hardly surprising, especially if the tests contain more essay questions. And again, my fear is that when the dust settles, we’ll have no way of measuring or comparing student performance at all.

Anyway, here are a number of links for those of you who are interested.

I especially recommend this first article, since it actually describes the tests being developed by the two common core consortia.

These articles rehash the problems states and school districts are encountering, including technology shortfalls, greater testing time, and, as always, higher cost.

One comment

  1. Carolyn Sharette

    Great to have you back Mary!

    I wish there were more focus on the differing levels of education – basically, the skills areas and the content and critical thinking that follow. My concern is that the general public and educators have lost sight of the important distinction, and that we are making decisions that are inappropriate because we don’t honor the difference.

    Students in the early years need to master skills – reading, arithmetic, writing. These skills are the foundation of future learning and critical thinking. Only when students master the fundamentals can they move on to achieve proficiency in logic and rhetoric (classical educations terms) phases of learning where critical thinking and generalizing knowledge is expressed in written and verbal communication.

    Because many people (including most educators unfortunately) have believed the falsehood promoted in ed schools that skills are unimportant – or even worse, that focus on them is harmful to students – you see the great decline in basic academic skills in most of our urban cities among a great percentage of our students. Learning to read fluently, comprehend at basic levels and do arithmetic accurately and quickly used to be the goal of early American education. Everyone understood the vital importance of children gaining these skills. Now, our educators are taught in school, and we see it expressed in our elementary schools, that drilling these skills to proficiency levels is harmful to students and so our students are not prepared for the higher level thinking skills that should be manifesting in upper elementary. Because of this lack in focus, we are still focusing on basic skills all through elementary school, and sometimes into Jr. High and High School. These students never progress to logic and critical thinking phases.

    This tragic neglect of basic skills is the foundational weakness of our schools. Students learning English while learning basic skills need longer school days and years, but can achieve proficiency if given targeted, intensive instruction in both (English and academic skills).

    This is connected to testing because I believe testing students on the basic skills and publicizing the results of those tests would help us to see what programs and methods are most successful at ensuring students achieve mastery in the basic skills. This would require student testing and reporting in grades K-3. Right now our tests don’t begin until grade 3, with the exception of the DIBELs reading assessment, the results of which are not widely disseminated. Testing basic skills in early elementary and publicizing the results would be a less costly approach to assessments and would probably give us a clear picture of how “smart” our kids are, and are going to be.

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