Do you view standardized test scores as a true measure of student performance?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 6, 2011

    I moved states for a job, and I notice a very different view of standardized tests between the two states. In my old state, it seemed that any teacher worth their salt knew that standardized tests were simply a "snapshot" of a student on that particular day. They did not view the test scores as an accurate description of what that student could really do. Their was a lot of bitterness surrounding the tests, and teachers knew they had to get good scores because the community/admin/government viewed them as important. However, the teachers themselves "knew" that the test scores weren't important for any other reason than proving to outside people that the school was doing a good job.

    Here, I see an entirely different approach. Teachers really seem to see the state test scores as an accurate measure of performance. If a student they thought would pass actually fails, they think they must have not taught this student enough (rather than that the student had a bad day or isn't a good test taker, etc.) They take the test scores data very seriously as an accurate measure of how we're doing at our school- not just for outsiders, but for themselves as well. I do not see much "bitterness" surrounding the state tests at all, and teachers don't see a problem with them.

    The interesting part is that in my home state, I saw tons and tons of "teaching to the test." I did practicums in numerous classrooms where all the students did for each subject was test prep. For reading time, they read practice test passages and answered questions using their test-taking strategies. For Science, they got out released test questions and practiced them as a group. The school I'm at currently follows a hands-on, "outward bound" learning program and does not "teach to the test" in any fashion. I find it sort of ironic that the scores are taken more seriously here. In my mind, our students are learning about life in the real world, and the way we teach academics helps them prepare for the future in legitimate ways. Therefore, other than the fact that low scores mean low public perception for our school, I don't see the test score as important.

    How do you feel about test scores? Do you think this is influenced by your school (maybe you are in a wealthy area where high scores are easy to come by, or an inner city area where low scores are more common?)
     
  2.  
  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,959
    Likes Received:
    2,116

    Jun 6, 2011

    I see most tests as snapshots of that child's output at that moment.
     
  4. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 6, 2011

    I agree about them being a snapshot. That is why I am so frustrated that starting next year, 1 short test can keep a child from moving on to 4th grade, and there is no consideration for alternate assessments, teacher recommendation, etc.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2011

    I see both sides that you mentioned waterfall. Any one test is a snapshot of the students performance on that day. But we test over multiple days, even multiple times a year. So I shouldn't see the student that I expect to pass fail on multiple occasions throughout the year. If I see a falling trend or a trend line that is not improving, I know that I need to change my teaching or provide more support to this student.
     
  6. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Messages:
    492
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2011

    Standardized tests are a hot topic in my education program. I don't know how to feel about them.

    On one hand I think they are phenomenal in that if a student can do it, the answers are easy and correct, if they can't they're difficult and wrong.

    On the other hand I know that kids have bad days, or they read a question quickly and give a quick wrong answer though they have the logic to answer otherwise.

    Honestly, I think standardized tests are vital, but I think there should be other means of evaluation to accompany them. I think a student's portfolio and test, among other things should be taken into account. I wholeheartedly disagree with one or two tests being the basis of the student's achievement for the year.

    Yet with that thought, I still have the long lingering feeling that someone that knows something should ace a test on it, and someone that doesn't know something shouldn't. I know it's not that simple though, but the world around us believes 100% it is that simple.

    It's a tough one, it really is.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 6, 2011

    Our test is only one time per year.

    One of my 3rd graders has grown 2 years in this one school year according to her DRA (she is on grade level for DRA now) and NWEA (a test that measures their performance from their own performance last year-you want to see a year's worth of growth, she grew two), and for all intents and purposes is on grade level. She's able to complete grade level classwork without modifications and is doing really well. I assumed I'd be exiting her when her tri comes up next year. However, she failed the state reading test.

    Another one of my 3rd graders came in WAY behind and due to resistence from the district it took us months longer than it should have to get him qualified. We just put him on an IEP about a month ago. He's reading at a beginning 2nd grade level, and has only grown about half a year's worth this school year and really struggles with all classroom assignments. Now that he's on an IEP, I've been really able to up his interventions and get him some one-on-one time with me. By some miracle, he PASSED the state reading test.

    So now, the first student is probably going to end up in special ed. unnecessarily, and everyone is looking at the 2nd student saying "why is he on an IEP." All because of some ridiculous test!
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2011

    waterfall, I have quite a few students with disabilities pass the state test (we test over three days). My district looks at this as one assessment. However, if we notice that the student did not pass the second grade test, the third grade test, and suddenly passed the fourth grade test, this would not mean we would exit just based on this information. If a student passed second and third and then struggled with the fourth grade test, this does not mean we would qualify either.

    But a student who did not pass in second, third and fourth may need to qualify or at least receive extra interventions.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 6, 2011

    I've never heard of state testing for 2nd grade- we start in 3rd so this is their first test.
     
  10. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2011

    Then I would truly look at the bigger picture. Take this as one piece and use DRA, NWEA, and other assessments/observations as well.
     
  11. Leatherette

    Leatherette Comrade

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jun 6, 2011

    No. There are kids who went from the 18th percentile to the 85th between the Fall and Spring MAP (NWEA test), and my daughter went the opposite way - from 89th percentile to 13th percentile, when I know that nobody extracted knowledge from her. She actually became a better reader, and then did that much worse? She is way back up again.

    Today there was an "of" where an "if" should have been on a reading passage. The things are not even edited correctly. We do this useful test 3 times a year.

    Update: On the final MAP of the year, she is now in the 97th percentile. Crazy.
     
  12. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    720
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 6, 2011

    We only have one standardized state test but our school also does MAPs testing that tests the students at the beginning of the year and then at the end.
    I will always view these tests as a snapshot but it is nice when they show good things!!!!!
     
  13. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,653
    Likes Received:
    233

    Jun 6, 2011

    California tests 2nd graders.

    Interestingly, I'm reading Diane Ravitch's Death and Life of the Great American School System right now, and she has a lot to say about NCLB and the focus on accountability.

    Testing in and of itself can be a good thing...but high-stakes, everything-depends-on-it testing is most certainly a TERRIBLE thing. As others have said, test scores are one indicator of a child's aptitude and accomplishments, but they should not be the only indicator.

    For some kids, the state test is a terrible measure of their achievement. My mom has taught a 4th grade reading intervention class for a few years. This year, almost all of her students, most of whom are English Learners, started out at Pre-Primer, Primer, or 1st grade reading level. By the end of the year, they had all reached 2nd-4th grade reading level. Everyone improved at least two grade levels, but that improvement won't be reflected much on their state test, because for a 4th grader reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level, the test is still going to be much too difficult. Their state test scores will never indicate how much they improved during the year. Similarly, the test may not indicate how much content many English Learners have grasped, since they may have difficulty understanding the test.

    I also hate that testing is solely focused on language arts and math in elementary. I student taught at a school that is in year one of program improvement, and they literally could not teach anything other than language arts and math, because those are the subjects on the all-important test! Only the 5th graders could learn science, because 5th graders in CA are tested on science. My CT was finally able to teach social studies, but only after state testing was done.

    On another note, CA teachers don't find out scores until August - from this forum it seems that many other states find out before school is even over.
     
  14. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 7, 2011

    This will be the case for us next year, as well. They are piloting "no-stakes" tests in K-2, but next year's third graders first experience with a paper-and-pencil standardized test will be the 40-question, one-hour reading test that they must pass to be promoted to 4th grade. The only exceptions are for students who are ELL, have IEPs, or have been retained twice already.
     
  15. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2011

    Speaking of tests

    Standardized tests can be helpful, but they need to be good. Here's an example from a nine weeks test given to our seniors (all seniors in the entire district take the same exam, and have for the last six years)

    Find the error in this sentence.

    Michael Jordon is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
     
  16. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 7, 2011

    Is there something besides the misspelling in the name? If not, isn't that more a measure of a student's knowledge of popular culture than any grammatical skills?
     
  17. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    20

    Jun 7, 2011

    "...considered [TO BE] one of..."?
     
  18. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 7, 2011

    I thought of that after I posted...
     
  19. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    248
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 7, 2011

    Exactly. I have students who spell their name "Jordon" so to them, this is not wrong. And if you've never seen his name in print you may not know it's spelled wrong. This is supposed to test our 12th graders understanding of editing and grammar.
     
  20. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,361
    Likes Received:
    2,237

    Jun 7, 2011

    We have 2 camps.

    The teachers that have many students failing every year or having to re-take think they are worthless and blame the students for not trying or not working hard. They hate the tests and think they are worthless. They think the teachers that have high pass rates get all the good kids.

    The teachers that have close to a perfect pass rate every year think they are valid minimum competency tests and take credit for doing a fine job teaching. They don't stress about the tests or the kids taking them. They know that how they teach has a direct impact on the students ability to learn the material and the students thrive.

    It is funny to listen to the 2 camps discuss testing. Since the computer creates the schedules for the students there is no administrative favoritism.
     
  21. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,397
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jun 7, 2011

    Okay, I was questioning myself for a minute!

    Yeah, that's an incredible unfair question. I always tell my kids not to worry about pronouncing/spelling the names they don't recognize!
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 7, 2011

    If I ran the world, a given elementary grade's test, once constructed, would have to be reviewed by a panel of gifted-and-talented kids in the next higher grade: they'd be flagging questions that are inane, pointless, boring, or just plain wrong.

    There is, I think, some good to giving standardized tests. There is, however, no point in giving tests that are avoidably stupid.
     
  23. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 7, 2011

    Yellowdaisies, I know what you mean with showing growth. One of my 4th graders is labeled as SLIC (meaning she just has an all around very low IQ) and came in at an end of the year Kindergarten level. She's up to beginning 3rd grade level now, so she grew 2 1/2 years in just one school year. However, the 4th grade test is obviously still too difficult, and when people just look at that they can't see the massive growth she made this year. That same scenario applies to many of my kids. It's frustrating! I feel like it invalidates all the progress they've made when people only care about the test score.

    a2z, obviously I don't know the kids at your school so this may not apply, but I think it's a pretty well known fact that there are just "bright" kids that will easily pass the test no matter whose class they're in. There are plenty of kids that are going to be successful even if their teacher is terrible. Obviously like I was mentioning before, any student will show growth with a good teacher, but there are also kids that just aren't going to pass the test no matter how good the teacher is as well. It's also easier for some subgroups to get good scores, since they simply just don't have as much to "deal with" as others. For the past 5 years, not a single kid above the poverty line at my school has failed the state test. I think teachers that get good scores with subgroups that have a harder time often teach to the test (not always, before someone jumps in with one example of how they know someone that doesn't), which is literally the number one thing I can't stand about our educational system today. Our speech pathologist works at another school in the district also, and this other school is very affluent. She says that for three months before the state test, they did test practice every single day in every testing subject. That is so incredibly WRONG. Meanwhile, our kids were out on expeditions learning in the real world. They don't often do paper pencil tests. We're very project based and the students are often outside doing hands on things. The other school did MUCH better than us on the state test. I'd still argue that our kids are getting the better education and will be better prepared for real jobs/the real world in the future. I wouldn't go teach at the other school for a 20,000 dollar raise. My number one fear is that people at our school are going to be too influenced by the test and that we're going to start seeing some of our classroom teachers trying to teach to it- which goes directly against everything our school stands for and the program we follow. That would be heartbreaking!
     
  24. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,653
    Likes Received:
    233

    Jun 7, 2011

    UGGH!! Hearing stuff like this makes me so mad! What an incredible waste of time!!! :mad:
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 7, 2011

    Three months of drilling to the test is stupid.
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 7, 2011

    I agree- it's horrible. They only had 4 kids out of over 100 fail though. That's why I'm really nervous that my school will feel pressure to do stuff like this. In my home state, I went to numerous different schools where all they did was test practice ALL YEAR. Literally. I did a semester long practicum my junior year in this 3rd grade reading class, and they followed this scripted program for urban/underperforming schools called "America's Choice." They literally did a practice test passage and questions every single day. They did not crack open a real book EVER. They did not do anything but test questions EVER. It was so disheartening. Even after the test was over, they'd start preparing for the next one! I was SO happy when I moved out here and found a school that followed a hands-on program like mine, because I literally haven't seen a school yet like it.
     
  27. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,171

    Jun 7, 2011

    The pendulum will swing back, waterfall, trust me. It may just take a bit of a while.
     
  28. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,653
    Likes Received:
    233

    Jun 7, 2011

    This just makes me so sad. Especially if it's an urban school...those kids need hands-on learning experiences the MOST. How are they ever going to learn to love reading or ANYTHING in school if their entire school experience is so incredibly boring and useless?! TeacherGroupie, I sincerely hope you're right about things changing eventually...!! It just makes me so sad about the kids who are in those schools right NOW. Things changing eventually won't help them; theyr'e in these classes right now.
     
  29. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,694
    Likes Received:
    407

    Jun 8, 2011

    They may be a measure of student attainment but in the UK they are used as a measure of teacher performance! Worse still grades they obtained at age 11 are used to predict grades they will get at age 16! Woe betide the teacher if those grades are not met.
     
  30. TechnoMage

    TechnoMage Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    24

    Jun 8, 2011

    We need more tests

    Like more pie-holes...........

    Politicians need a test to run for office...
    But they don't.

    And we DO need term limits..

    If we had these, just these 2 things.

    We would not have the problems in education that we do.

    THEY would be so busy fixing things that truly need their attention.

    They would not have time to dream up more stuff for us.

    :2cents: TechnoMage

    PS. Any test, is simply an indicator, not the rule. This is why we are supposed to be TEACHERs not TESTers.:thumb:
     
  31. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 8, 2011

    Standardized tests are really only useful in a formative application. If we are using the data from the test to evaluate how well students have learned certain ideas, where the misconceptions are, and what we need to review or reteach, then they are useful. As high stakes sumative measures, the way so many states use them though, they are useless.
     
  32. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,155
    Likes Received:
    996

    Jun 9, 2011

    It really upsets me too. I hope things will change, but how many years of diservice must we do first? Teachers have been teaching to the test since I was in elementary school. My state started doing the proficiency test the year I was in third grade (the precursor to the NCLB testing era) and my teachers taught to the test. We had these books called "blast off books" that were all test skills practice for each subject and we did them every day. I hated school once we started doing them. At my school, the 5th graders always did this really cool project where you made a business and played the stock market for it. We started it, and then we had 2 snow days in a row and the teacher decided we didn't have time for it anymore because we'd missed those 2 days and we needed to do more test practice. We literally never did anything fun. I can honestly say I did more "fun" activities in high school classes then I did in elementary school- how sad is that? I was SO happy when I got to middle school and they started tracking classes, because I was on the advanced track and our teachers didn't worry about test prep. They knew they didn't have to worry about us passing so we actually got to learn as normal, and that's when I liked school again. So I was in 3rd grade about 15 years ago...and I see no letting up on the teaching to the test!
     
  33. atomic

    atomic Companion

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 9, 2011

    We have tests for our first graders, not state tests. They are 4 times a year and are supposed to show trends.

    I teach in the HS and all of my students rush through the tests guessing. What concerns me is my salary and raises may be based on the these tests very soon.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. TeacherNY,
  2. Ima Teacher
Total: 245 (members: 4, guests: 212, robots: 29)
test