National Experts Submit Legislative Testimony Against “High Stakes Testing”

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  1. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    ACLU News Regarding Rhode Island High Stakes Testing requirement for high school seniors and graduation:

    National education experts are submitting written testimony today to express support for legislation that would delay or halt the RI Department of Education’s “high stakes testing” requirement for high school seniors. According to the latest RIDE statistics, almost 1,600 seniors remain at risk of not getting a diploma because of the testing requirement. The bills are being heard this afternoon by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee.

    The written testifiers include Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of Education at Stanford University, director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and education advisor to Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential Campaign; Ron Wolk, the founder of Education Week, the newspaper of record in American education; and Lisa Guisbond, policy analyst for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest). Brief excerpts from their written testimony appear below:

    Linda Darling-Hammond:
    “The preponderance of research indicates that test-based requirements for graduation do not generally improve achievement, but do increase dropout rates. . . Studies have raised concerns about reduced graduation rates, especially for African American and Latino students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; reduced incentives for struggling students to stay in school rather than drop out or pursue a GED; increased incentives for schools to encourage low-achieving students to leave school, especially when test scores are part of the state school accountability system, so as to improve the appearance of average school scores; narrowing of the curriculum and neglect of higher order performance skills where limited measures are used; and invalid judgments about student learning from reliance on a single set of test measures, a practice discouraged by professional testing experts.” (Full testimony)

    Ron Wolk:
    “Despite hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours spent on standards and testing over the past 25 years, student achievement has not significantly improved, and the gap that separates needy and minority students from more affluent white students persists. . . . [A recent RIDE report] reveals that over the past five years, reading and math scores in the 4th, 6th, and 8th grades have increased by about 4 percent—about 0.8 percent a year. Eleventh grade scores in both reading and math increased by an impressive 8 percent over the past five years. Since more than 25 percent of all Rhode Island students score below proficient in reading, however, and about 40 percent score below proficient in math, it could take roughly 25 more years to get all students to proficiency in reading at the current rate of progress, and as many as 40 years to get all students to proficiency in math. Most importantly, it is a serious mistake to equate test scores with learning. Studies have shown that intense test preparation can raise scores, but the ‘learning’ is often transitory and temporary.” (Full testimony)

    Lisa Guisbond:
    “The ‘model’ exit exam state, Massachusetts, still has persistent, unacceptably large gaps in educational opportunity and achievement. . . In Massachusetts, disparities in dropout rates persist more than 10 years after the state adopted MCAS high school graduation tests. Latino and African-American students drop out at rates three to four times that of white students, and 11th and 12th graders who have not passed MCAS are more than 13 times more likely to drop out of school than those who have passed . . . Students with disabilities have been hit particularly hard and make up a steadily growing portion of Massachusetts students who don’t graduate because of the MCAS graduation test. Students receiving special education were five times more likely to fail MCAS in 2002-03; by 2011-12, they were 15 times more likely to fail.” (Full testimony)

    Parents, teachers, students and representatives of community groups are also expected to testify at today’s hearing.
    - See more at: http://www.riaclu.org/news/post/nat...inst-high-stakes-testing#sthash.oOI8nhU1.dpuf


    *disclaimer: Anything I write on AtoZ is a reflection of what I've seen locally and what I glean from national news. It is my opinion and my opinion only. As far as I know, I'm still entitled to it .....
     
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  3. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Interesting conclusions...

    Kids will drop out more often if they fail the state tests.
    Flip side, give everyone a HS diploma despite the level of academic achievement which is basically what was going on in many cases making a HS diploma virtually a useless piece of paper.

    The tests aren't the problem. They just show there is a problem. The tests weren't designed to fix the problem. The government left that up to the states and the districts to figure out how to educate those that weren't being successful.
     
  4. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    We could fix education's problems if we got rid of standardized testing...because we wouldn't know there are problems :)
     
  5. Go Blue!

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    Most districts (pretty much all) have some alternative assignment/project Seniors can complete if they can't pass the state test; I've never seen a district without some type of alternative even if they rarely have to use it. It's not like these Seniors won't graduate if they can't pass the test; they won't graduate if they don't bother to do the alternative assignment/project.

    Here, it is called a BRIDGE project and the number of projects a student must complete depends on how many sections of each of the HSA tests they failed (they currently take a HSA in Algebra, Biology and English). By their Senior year, most students have taken the HSA at least 3 times - sometimes 4. If they have not passed it after so many attempts, they complete their BRIDGE projects under the close supervision (help) of a BRIDGE teacher at their school.

    I think the alarming issue here, is that so many kids in my district can't pass the HSA after taking it 3 or 4 times ...
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Pretty much. I find it rather alarming that so many Seniors in my district can't pass Maryland's HSA after 3 or 4 attempts. Makes you wonder ...


    Note: I do not teach English II, Algebra or Biology which are the only courses tested by the HSAs. So, I'm not trying to be critical of those who teach these courses since I think there are also other issues at work here.
     
  7. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Makes you wonder...whether they have really mastered the skills a basic high school diploma is supposed to represent?
     
  8. Go Blue!

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    That - among other things.

    Honestly, when I read some these essays our Seniors write to help them get into college or apply for a college scholarship; I am 100% sure that they are not prepared for any higher-level academic environment without a lot of intensive academic intervention and remedial writing courses first. Yet, many of these kids have great GPAs.
     
  9. GTB4GT

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    Interestingly enough, I find in my classroom that there is a pretty strong correlation between knowing the material and actually passing a test over the same.;)


    For all the 'experts" quoted in the article (and elsewhere) who oppose testing, what alternative form of assessment do they suggest or prefer? I ask this sincerely.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    [​IMG]
     
  11. Jem

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    Ron Wolk:
    “Despite hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours spent on standards and testing over the past 25 years, student achievement has not significantly improved, and the gap that separates needy and minority students from more affluent white students persists. . . ."

    Testing does not equal higher levels of achievement. It was never intended to, unless this person means that we are not taking the results from previous tests and changing up our instructional strategies. It's there to show if the student is prepared to move on. It's the teaching before the test, and the student's involvement, that leads to higher achievement scores.

    Seriously, students need to be brought into this specific conversation. I have an epidemic in my classroom right now of students not studying for tests and not turning in their homework. They have Fs in their different subjects because they are not passing tests or turning in assignments. This does not mean I'm not doing my job as a teacher-I work my butt off and teach the content. This does not mean they can't learn the material, or because the expectations are too high. This is because they are lazy and putting other priorities first-sports, social opportunities, tv, etc. Students must be held accountable as well. If we take away formal assessment opportunities, what incentive is there for them to put forth effort? If I said, well, I guess you guys just aren't passing these tests or turning your homework. They must be the source of the problem-we are no longer going to have them-what would happen? My students would come to school, probably act like monkeys all day and then go home. There would be nothing for them to work towards. No end goal to showing their understanding. I don't get testing is so villianized-it's simply a method to show one's understanding of concepts they've been taught for a period of time.
     
  12. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Because it is much easier to blame the results than it is the cause of those results.
     
  13. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My students are in my classroom for 180 days. It works out to 990 instructional hours. For about 90 of those hours, or close to 10% of the school year, I will not be teaching a single student. I will not be providing enrichment or intervention. I will not be doing anything else that good teachers would normally be doing. I will be watching my students take a test that either the district or the state is mandating them to do.

    That is not taking into account the time that I will be spending teaching the students how to navigate the test (NOT teaching them computer skills... specifically teaching them how to navigate the specific testing software they will be using), the time that I will be mandated by administration to review for the state tests, the three complete days where my students will have a substitute while my team and I look at district test results and determine remediation needs (for reference, I have had exactly one student score below an 80% on any of these tests so far this year), and it does not include other classroom assessments.
     
  14. bandnerdtx

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    You're cracking me up with these!! :lol::lol::lol:

    To the person who posted about "most districts" having alternative assessments for students who can't/won't pass the state tests, I know in Texas those are extremely difficult to qualify for. Sadly, because of our new state testing, I'm afraid we are going to see a huge increase in drop out rates in the next 2-3 years.
     
  15. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Many people who preach personal responsibility to their students are the last to actually practice it.
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    It's sad that they won't have degrees, or it's sad that they didn't master the basic skills necessary to get that degree?
     
  17. Sarge

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    The traditional purpose of a high school diploma in our society is not to identify a person as having a specific level of academic achievement. Transcripts and SAT scores have done that job very well for decades.

    In our society, the real purpose of high school is the first "job" that a person puts on their resume. Let's say that a person's math and reading skills are at the sixth grade level but they have met all the requirements for a high school diploma. In other words, they passed all the required classes, stayed in school, and stayed out of trouble enough that they were eventually allowed to graduate. For a lot of kids growing up in poverty, that is quite an accomplishment.

    Maybe their academics do not make them college material. As I said, transcripts and SAT scores take care of that. But in order to earn that diploma, they needed a certain level of responsibility, time management skills, and the ability to finish something they started. Having the diploma means they can function in an organization, follow directions and be someplace they are supposed to be a the time they are supposed to be there on a recurring basis.

    I knew a lot of guys in the Air Force who excelled at being flight engineers, cargo specialists, aircraft mechanics, and many other jobs who's academic level of achievement was probably at or around the sixth grade, considering they went to inner city schools at a time when inner city school probably had their lowest levels of achievement ever.

    At the time, it was very hard to get into the military without a diploma. We all had to take a test, and if you had a diploma, the score you needed could actually be much lower than if you did not have a diploma.

    To the military, having the diploma signified much more than the level of academic achievement one had reached. The diploma meant you were trainable. It was an indicator that you were most likely a person who, if they said "This guy is going to teach you how to safely change the nose wheel tire on an F-16 and you need to be at the shop at 0600 tomorrow," then you would be at the shop at 0600 and you would be ready to pay attention and learn.
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Here's another thing.

    If a student meets all the course requirements for earning a diploma, and then cannot pass an exit exam the issue is with the school system, not the student.

    Either the coursework was too easy, or the test was too difficult or did not reflect what students were taught. Student's should not be denied a diploma because the school failed.
     
  19. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Many teachers refuse to hold themselves accountable; that doesn't excuse the fact that a diploma is worthless when it's handed out to people who haven't mastered the skills it represents.
     
  20. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    So we should hold teachers accountable by denying diplomas to the students who passed their classes but did not learn enough to pass the exam?

    I find that morally wrong.
     
  21. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Why even have diplomas then? You showed up enough days? Cool. Go away now.
     
  22. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    At least when I graduated from New York, there were multiple diploma options. One required passing several Regents exams. One option didn't. In Virginia, there are multiple diploma options. One requires more EOC tests than the others. There's a modified version available for IEP students. Everybody in Virginia can earn a diploma, even if they aren't capable of passing the EOC tests... but the diploma signifies what the student actually accomplished.
     
  23. Sarge

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    Any good high school should require of its students far more than "showing up" in order to complete the coursework required to earn a diploma.

    After all, most courses in high school require students to pass tests in order to earn the passing grade and credit for the course. Shouldn't those tests be enough?

    And if a student can somehow pass the tests without mastering the material, then you have a problem with the teachers and not the student. In that case, the administrators need to their jobs in order to fix the problem.

    Punishing the student by denying them a diploma is not the answer.
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Don't many teachers cry for student accountability for standardized tests claiming that the kids don't do well because they don't try. Well, not getting a HS diploma or being retained is really the only accountability that can be placed on the student.

    Since so many teachers claim that the kids fail because they don't care, I wonder how many of these kids that fail the course or won't get a diploma actually don't care. Maybe it isn't the test that makes them drop out just that they get to the age where they can - unless they really do try and don' t have the skills.

    Regarding in-class tests, there are a number of ways that in class grades including tests can be manipulated.
     
  25. Go Blue!

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    I guess I've never seen a district where a students has to qualify outside of failing the state exam multiple times by their Senior year.
     
  26. HistoryVA

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    If a senior fails the EOC test 3 times, the school gives them a waiver and they still get the regular HS diploma... which makes the EOC tests completely worthless in the end. The schools are more concerned about their on-time graduation rates than anything else.
     
  27. GTB4GT

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    based on what I see at my school, I really do think a large % of the kids don't care if they fail due to what HistoryVA states....the kids know that the test is meaningless because the school, at the end of the day, will grant them their diploma anyway. In essence, the schools themselves have rendered everything meaningless because the student will graduate no matter what they do/don't do.

    These kids aren't dumb (in a sense). They are watching what we do (as educators), not what we say. Go to any adult place of work. Have an employer hand out paychecks to all employees no matter how they perform at work. Repeat this process over enough time and people will figure out what is going on (no matter what might be said by the boss). Many of the employees would regress to the least common demoninator. This isn't theory. I have turned around or shut down several manufacturing plants where performance, at the end of the day, really didn't matter.
     
  28. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I've never heard of that, but it sounds like it actually makes sense.:wow:

    TM


    *disclaimer: Anything I write on AtoZ is a reflection of what I've seen locally and what I glean from national news. It is my opinion and my opinion only. As far as I know, I'm still entitled to it .....
     
  29. GTB4GT

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    I agree with you...this is certainly better than handing out the same diploma to everyone, regardless of their achievement.
     
  30. EdEd

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    It's increasingly disheartening to read folks that are supposedly leaders in education put forth arguments that make so little sense. To argue that "testing did not increase achievement so we shouldn't do it" shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the concept of testing.

    If the argument were instead, "testing is inaccurate and does not predict who will succeed post-graduation, so we should use alternative summative methods of assessing final performance in K-12," we could have a discussion.
     
  31. teacherman1

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    I don't think that's quite what's being said, Ed, although it sometimes appears that way....

    For at least the last 12 years we have been increasing the number of tests and the frequency of tests and the value placed on these tests, but the basic education that would produce better results on these tests has not been improved.

    It's a little like a farmer weighing his beef cattle more often without increasing the nutritional value of what he's actually feeding them.

    You can weigh your cattle 20 times a day and they won't gain that desired weight until the quality of the food goes up.

    So instead of increasing the testing, how about working on improving *public education. (For example, making sure children suffering the negative effects of dyslexia get the help they need before grade 2:)


    *disclaimer: Anything I write on AtoZ is a reflection of what I've seen locally and what I glean from national news. It is my opinion and my opinion only. As far as I know, I'm still entitled to it .....
     
  32. a2z

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    Do you honestly believe that schools will do something to improve education if they haven't done it so far when they knew there were measurement tools in place? Many already blame everything other than the school system for the lack of success. Why would anyone who believes they aren't part of the problem try to fix something they don't see as broken?
     
  33. EdEd

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    I agree with your perspective, teacherman, but I don't get the sense that that's what the original article was talking about. It seemed to put forth the idea that testing should lead to improvement if it's to be valuable.

    Also, there's usually just one high stakes test, right? Are we actually continuing to increase the number of standardized tests beyond 1? I realize some states/localities implement more than one assessment, but in terms of high stakes testing that includes no instructional value, are you aware of any locality that has more than one?
     
  34. teacherman1

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    Yes, Rhode Island.
    This year we'll be taking the High Stakes NECAP tests and PARCC tests, too. And it's not just the "big test" at the end of the year, Ed. It's also tests like the DRA and DIBELS tests which are mandatory tests given multiple times per/year in elementary school.

    And, at least in my school, the teacher was required to give those tests one-on-one, which mean s/he looses all that teaching time.

    I'll see if I can compile a list of all the tests and how much time they actually take away from teaching.

    Steve
     
  35. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Sounds like the only acceptable thing to you is the teachers say-so regarding ability level.
     
  36. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Not at all...
    A reasonable amount of testing to help guide teaching during the year, and one fair "standardized" test at the end to see how each school is doing in relation to others is fine.

    Then, when it is determined which ones aren't making the grade, they should be helped with more support and funds if needed.
    Not punished.....

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And getting back to the farmer and cow metaphor....
    If the farmer is weighing his cows multiple times per day, they won't even have time to eat and drink.

    The stress alone of repeatedly pulling them away from their normal routines would probably kill them anyway...

    TM

    *disclaimer: Anything I write on AtoZ is a reflection of what I've seen locally and what I glean from national news. It is my opinion and my opinion only. As far as I know, I'm still entitled to it .....
     
  37. CindyBlue

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    ...and why not? Teachers are professionals...just sayin' (and I know I'm going to start something here...)
    I know that I can tell which of my kids is going to succeed in the next class level, both before and after he/she takes a test, whatever the test score is. I know their work ethic and and how much they know. I've had them in my class for a year. Can't you tell?
     
  38. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    You can only tell how well kids are doing based on how well you think they should be doing. You may know your school well and how it functions. For your school a child may be doing well, but for another school he or she may be way ahead or way behind. Therefore, there should be standardized information about skill level.
     
  39. GTB4GT

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    actually I think the state standards (at least for math) give me a reasonable baseline of what is expected of students in each of my classes. I would argue that they provide a consistent basis for student evaluation of how the individual measures up against his/her peers state wide. I love them because they keep me from being too "school centric" in my teaching, lesson planning and assessments.
     
  40. gr3teacher

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    That's not what he's saying at all. He's saying testing should be kept to a sane level, and it should be fair to the students. Teachers shouldn't be spending 10% of the school year giving standardized tests and practice standardized tests, yet that's where I am.
     
  41. Go Blue!

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    Outside of the wording on the diploma, are there any differences between them? Can a student get into college with the non-EOC diploma - the same as if they had passed the EOC tests and had an EOC diploma?

    If so, is there any negative consequence to getting one of the non-EOC diplomas?
     
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