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A New Way to Assess Test Results?

I came across an interesting read by a professor at Union College on how their tenure process is run. Basically it consisted of student reviews/interviews, assessments by fellow teachers, class sit-in assessments, and lots of paperwork from every class syllabus, lecture note, published work, teaching method statements, and so on. His point was that this intensive method of assessment, while thorough and effective, is too expensive to do regularly. Admittedly, I don’t know much about what it’s like to apply for tenure, or what the process entails at other levels, but this method seems to be on the right track with regards to how to make proper assessments in general....

support opt-out shirt

The Opt-Out Option

High stakes standardized testing is still a terrible thing, in case you were wondering. And more and more parents are starting to realize that since their policy makers aren't going to change things on their own accord, it’s time to take matters into their own hands to send a message. Active parents are finding the opt-out option to be the best choice for their children - protecting them from undue stress, and supporting their children's educators at the same time. [caption id="attachment_463" align="alignleft" width="300"] I love this shirt...

PARCC test

PARCC is missing the point

I went onto the PARCC website to poke around and decided to try out one of the sample test items for the 6-11 grade range (which is a pretty broad range, but I digress). After spending a little time with the test as an adult, I realized, clearly PARCC is missing the point. To start, I was able to get a tutorial on how the new fully computerized test would work – that I had tools available to help me get answers (on the math portion) and could “flag” questions that I wanted to skip and come back to. Then I was told I had 2 hours to complete the section and started; and I promptly remembered why I hated standardized tests so much as a student. Regardless of how advanced the method of test-taking may be it doesn't replace the fact that the ways students are being assessed is not productive or effective. The reading comprehension portion that I sampled was the same basic formula that I remember from my grade school days in that there were text excerpts to read, and then answer questions based on what we had gathered. I personally have a few problems with this format, one being that it is a standardized test, which is naturally stressful enough on its own, and made me constantly second guess myself on all my answers (even though I am a college graduate, and usually fairly confident in my comprehension abilities). Second, making a teenage student sit in a room with her peers with a strict time limit, test taking atmosphere, and pressure to do well because her school’s funding depends on it isn't the most productive use of her school day. Admittedly, it was nice switching between my multiple-choice answers without worrying about eraser marks, but I’m sure that when you have a classroom of students on computers there is bound to be some technological hiccup that could take away more time. Plus, setting aside two hours of my day (at the most) to complete one section is a major waste of my day, so I can only imagine how much valuable time would be wasted having to sit for 2 hours a day per test category during a school day where I could be learning something more useful than how to take a test. But the biggest issue I had was with the questions themselves. I only finished half of the reading comprehension test because I started getting bored (which is another issue altogether), but more importantly, I started over-thinking and making up ways to justify different answers that might not have been the “correct” one. Seeing that the multiple choice answers are formatted as two wrong answers, one possible one, and one more strongly correct answer, I could use ways to justify either possibility using textual evidence (they were big on finding evidence in the texts). And even though one answer was stronger than the other in terms of grading, if a student could eloquently justify herself on the...

TN Common Core Rally

PARCC is inspiring a movement

The fight against standardization rages on after the first weeks of Common Core testing have gone underway. For many parents, however, this is just the beginning of a long battle against the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers (PARCC). You could say PARCC is inspiring a movement - parents and educators against Common Core and its related high-stakes assessment. This new movement has gained a lot of steam and that's a good thing for the education reform movement. [caption id="attachment_353" align="alignleft" width="300"] Children marching against Common Core in Harlem, NY[/caption] The new fight against PARCC and common core has developed into grassroots movement propelled by concerned parents who refuse to allow their children to take the “high-stakes Common Core tests,” according to the Washington Post. Common Core and PARCC testing seem to have become the single unifying issue that numerous education reform groups are united against. This would include teachers groups like The Badass Teachers Association, unions like the AFT, and parent groups like Ohioans Against PARCC. This movement is kept alive by concerned parents like Amy Broerman. For Broerman, this is not just an issue of whether standardized tests are proper measures of a student’s ability to perform, but it is also an issue of practicality. “The number of days that teachers spend preparing for it. The number of days that school will be disrupted so that kids can take the test…I’m opting out only because it sends the strongest message,” said Broerman in an interview with ABC9 (source). Parents like Broerman share their concerns about the test along with teachers and school district officials who claim that there could be negative effects when it comes to standardized testing on social media sites. These websites and Facebook pages hope to create a public forum for individuals to share their ideas. One of these sites is the widely popular fightthecore.com which queues up resources for parents to research Common Core and keeps a blog running for updates on standardized education. It also allows parents to contact state legislators via email. Veteran teacher Jennifer Philips from Colorado informs parents and other teachers about the harms of over-testing and the discrimination that comes along with Common Core in an interview on her YouTube channel. “Common Core is not built for everyone. [The PARCC] have a particular population in mind, and that is not okay,” said Philips. The PARCC test does not officially or explicitly have accommodations for students who do not speak English or have learning disabilities. Students who need more time on the test, larger print, or have instructions read to them will not receive the accommodations they need to be successful when taking the exam. Philips stands in solidarity along with other teachers and parents when it comes to standardized tests like Common Core. “Testing has gotten to the point that this is all our job as teachers is now: test preparers. Our students are learning mathematics, they aren't learning the beautiful grammar of our language. Instead, they’re learning how to take a test, and that is a huge disservice to our students and...

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