Saturday, October 17, 2009

BIG BIG PROBLEM

This post recently appeared in the MAP 101 thread. That's an old thread, so the comment is a little buried. I think it needs to be brought to the surface.

Elizabeth said...
When I asked my kids how the MAP testing was last week (at North Beach elementary) I was really alarmed. Tell me what you think of this story: I asked if it was hard, etc., my younger child said that it wasn't hard at all and that the person administrating the test told them "to try to get the first questions wrong so that it's not too hard." I asked if maybe there was a misunderstanding and then then my older child chimed in and said that yes, the teacher administering their test had told them they shouldn't try to get the questions right at first because then the tests later on in the year will show that they have learned a lot. The MAP test is responsive to the answers being given so that if I child is getting everything right it will make the next questions harder and if they are getting many questions wrong they will make the following questions easier. Anyway, we are so alarmed about these reports from our kids. I can see one misunderstanding, but both? It sounds as if the staff is asking the kids to "fix" the tests to show a false spike in learning later in the school year. Surely that can't be true, it's so unethical. Have anyone else's kids said this? I am hoping there is a logical explanation for this.


Has anyone had a similar report from their child - either at North Beach or any other school?

First, if the kids don't do their best on the MAP assessment, then the teachers won't get an accurate analysis of the students' strengths and weaknesses, the primary reason for the assessment.

Second, it is bad practice for anyone to ever tell anyone to do less than their best on anything.

Third, if the staff at North Beach - or any other school - is sandbagging the fall test, they need to be supervised out of that behavior. If the principal is in on it, then the principal needs to be supervised out of that behavior.

Fourth, this sort of direction to students would put the petty concerns of the adults ahead of the legitimate needs of the students. We simply cannot have that.

This is very, very, very bad in a broad spectrum of ways for a wide variety of reasons. It needs to be reported, without delay, to the appropriate authority. I would start with the Education Director with responsibility at North Beach: Gloria Mitchell.

56 comments:

reader said...

Well, the good news about the sandbagging... it only works once. So, if you sandbagged one MAP, one year, it won't help the school out for long. So, let's say the kid sandbags the first MAP. Then, at the end of the year looks great. Well... what's going to happen next year? If the kid sandbags again, it will be evidence of ineffective teaching the year before... if they look at that sort of stuff at all.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I am speechless.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Boy, I hope this gets to district leadership. This has to be nipped in the bud right now. I wonder if this is happening elsewhere. What a crazy, crazy thing to do and how confusing for the students taking the test? If you know the right answer, why wouldn't you give it? I feel for these kids. It's like Balloon Boy when he got asked the question about hearing his parents' frantic calls for him. He looked to his mom for guidance because you could tell he was troubled over the answer and he said, "They said it was for the show."

Clearly, a kid gets confused between what he/she knows is the truth versus what they are told to do.

owlhouse said...

Wow. I hope we can get additional/follow up information soon. This is so discouraging.

That said, it seems like just another chapter in the risks and pit falls of high stakes testing. Even with new and improved tests, we are at best, gathering incomplete data. At worst, knowingly directing students to participate in creating fraudulent data.

Eric Blumhagen said...

We didn't have anything like that issue at Loyal Heights or Whitman. My kids said the questions started easy, got harder, then got easier. As I understand it, this is how the tests are supposed to work.

dj said...

After Dr. Goodloe-Johnson left the Charleston school district, it was discovered that one of the schools that had made "big strides" on achievement tests had done so through cheating on the exams.

I say that not because I think Dr. G-J is trying to fix tests (I don't, at least not by cheating) but because I think that this sort of thing does indeed happen and am unfortunately not surprised to hear this.

My daughter didn't report any such thing happening at Thurgood Marshall.

Maureen said...

My daughter and her friend agreed-no prompting at TOPS-the process they described sounded fine. They did know ahead of time that the questions got easier if you answered wrong. I wonder if that creates any bias for lazy kids!

Chris said...

My kid gave me the impression she was encouraged to try her hardest - her comment was the "I think I did my best, I didn't know some of the words and I don't think taking more time would have helped any."

I just have to point out though, that no one gets this mad about undue pressure to perform well and its negative effects on children. I'm remembering some news story about a girl being verbally abused re: her WASL effort and crying in the bathroom - some other district...but there are hordes of nervous 3rd & 4th graders in April in our very own district...MAP will not likely be an improvement on that situation.

seattle citizen said...

Looking at the NWEA website, it appears that MAP can offer some information about possible levels in various areas...I say possible because of course there are a variety of ways it could be inaccurate and any scores (levels) would have to be correlated.

Using data points such as these sorts of tests is helpful, but not the be-all-end-all of assessment. A variety of assessments helps triangulate, thus giving a better look at where a student may truly be at.

So: If MAP turns out to be a good test to help figure out where students are at generally, fine.

BUT: If it were to become a tool for assessing SCHOOLS, or TEACHERS, then look forward to more data manipulation, erasure of wrong answers, snadbagging etc. This is absolutely NOT to say that anyone should do this sort of cheating, but if a teacher's job is on the line, or a school's funding or autonomy...watch out.

The pressure to "close the achievement gap" is now federalized under NCLB. Schools have to show improvement in EVERY cell (look for expanded cells next year, as categories are broken down, i.e. "Black" becomes "African American" and "Immigrant African" and "Haitian" etc, finer grain distinctions such as those) or they are FAILING schools. Note that I wrote "have to show improvement every year": An impossible feat, of course, as eventually the school would arrive at 100% pass rate (by standardizing the classroom and kids both? I have no idea) and therefore could improve no more...

NCLB = money for broke schools = huge pressure for schools to "perform."

Worse, rather than isolated instances of cheating, one wonders what some school's over-eager efforts to "teach to the test" do to the rest of the curriculum and course offerings...This is no doubt more common than cheating, and effects more students.

My vote: keep MAP, make it strictly a tool to identify needs. Teachers could use some help knowing who is a year or two behind in some aras, so as to direct intervention that way. While classroom assessments can do this, regular MAP testing over time will allow students to be scheduled into appropriately leveled classes BEFORE school starts, rather than join a vastly multi-level classroom and have the teacher try to teach high, low, and everything inbetween.

lak367 said...

"They did know ahead of time that the questions got easier if you answered wrong. I wonder if that creates any bias for lazy kids!"

A mom at my school said that her son did in fact think that it might be to his advantage to answer a bunch of questions wrong to ensure that he got easy questions for the majority of the test.

She was surprised he told her this, and if I remember correctly, he and his friends had been discussing whether or not they should all be purposefully answering incorrectly. Might have been 3rd graders?

Of course, they weren't instructed to do this; they were just being kids and figuring out how to make life easier for themselves, I suppose! But it does indicate a potential pitfall of the MAP if kids end up being taught below their level because they are goofing around and not answering correctly on purpose.

dan dempsey said...

Since the current North Beach principal arrived ... North Beach WASL scores have steadily deteriorated to where they currently are at the rock bottom of Seattle Elementary Schools with similar demographics.

SPSMom said...

Am wondering, doesn't NorthBeach have some sort of waiver to use Saxon math books, I recall reading somewhere that the parents would lay down on the tracks to save those books. If they are sandbagging, new term for me, that would be the only reason I could see why they would do such a silly thing.

Adhoc said...

Was this verified? Is it from a reliable source? It's a pretty strong accusation.

seattle citizen said...

lak367, that's a very good point, some students might make things easier for themselves by going for the easier questions.

While adaptive tests are nifty cool when used properly (student does their best) they of course become easier if a student is unmotivated, slacks off, gets distracted...

So even if a student isn't trying to get easier questions by answering wrong (this might be relatively uncommon) it's certainly possible that the test with "adapt" itself down and produce a lower score.

This is the central problem tests, generally, and is the reason it's important to have an array of assessments, and observation, that allows a teacher to more accurately guage level of learning.

Of course, on the high-stakes state tests, such as WASL, uh, HSPE, the poor kid only gets one chance, and the school only gets one chance, and stuff like a bad night's sleep, drug use, distraction, teacher coaching (or cheating...eek) makes nary a whit of difference: The Score is the Score and has very serious repercussions.

I hate high-stakes tests like these. SAT scores low? Studant can take it again. WASL low? Tough, you're tracked the following year (unless other assessments prove the score faulty) and the low score potentially is used to slam you school in the media and people's minds, and potentially close the school or cause massive changes to it.

Imagine: Twenty more students this year than last have the flu; their scores drop; the school reaches step five of AYP, and suffers sanctions under NCLB (IF the school is poor and uses Title One funding -richer schools, sans Title One, need not worry (except about the bad press)

heckuva deal. Almost seems set up to declare poor schools "failing," eh? Now why would they want to do that...

SPS mom said...
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Sahila said...

My son is now at Room 9, which does participate in Shoreline testing...

spoke with his teacher the other day... while they participate in the testing, teachers dont hold much sway by the results...apparently math testing was carried out a week or so ago... on the computer... 45 questions... something of a concentration challenge I would think for a Grade One child, and a secondary challenge for my son who hardly ever gets computer time at home (and no video games/Wii/DS etc) and had none that I know of in kindergarten (AS#1) last year...

He did very well in one part of the test and not so well in two others, partly because by then he was tired and partly because we (he and I) do most of our play/learning about math concepts in discussion, manipulation and in our heads and he had little exposure to formal math in kindergarten. As it is, he's finding it a challenge to commit these ideas to paper/worksheets and now to doing it on a computer screen in a restricted time frame????

A lot I think to expect a 6 year old to cope with... and then to have the results (are they truly a measure of what he knows?) be used to categorise him and his capabilities? Not a valid process or measure, IMO...

Josh Hayes said...

I ran this by both of my kids and they both reacted indignantly when I read out that original story to them: it didn't happen at AS1.

So, another data point, I guess, if you believe my kids (and I don't think they'd fib about this.).

Joanne said...

My kids attend North Beach and after reading Elizabeth's excerpt I asked them if they were told to answer any questions incorrectly on the MAP test. They both said "No." Next I asked if they had EVER been told not to answer a question correctly, or to skip questions on ANY tests and they said "No." This made me feel better. Still, I have been concerned about NB since the WASL scores have dropped so dramatically. Hopefully the school will climb back up this year.

Bird said...

Is the MAP test a short term experiment or will it be the test of choice going forward from this year?

I thought I read somewhere that the MAP testing was funded by a grant this year.

SPS mom said...

This link provides more info/background on the use of MAP testing in SPS:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/08-09agendas/052009agenda/assessmentpresentation.pdf

wseadawg said...

We really, really need this stuff. I mean, really, who would take a teacher's word for how kids are doing?

The less computerized testing my kids engage in, the better I feel about their future.

reader1 said...

Oh! My daughter told me that she quickly realized that clicking the wrong answer got her easeir questions! That is exactly what she did and she had a ball doing it. She is a first grader.

seattle citizen said...

wseadawg,
IF we had a common curriculum that was aligned vertically (up through grades) and IF teacher's end-of-year reports on student progress reflected where a student was in various comptencies (Comp, vocab, etc...not just "A" in Language Arts) THEN "taking a teacher's word for it" would help that student get targeted support.

The idea behind MAP (at least in my conception of it, ignoring the obvious way it could be used to "rate your teacher," is that it (or any other similar sort of benchmarking test) allows the child's next grade level, or next school, or next teacher, to have a comprehensive idea of where the student is proficient and where they're lagging (and even where they excel) so lessons or even whole class schedule can be arranged to meet these individualized needs.

Here's an example:
Abdul "passes" 8th grade LA. The receiving HS has very little idea where Abdul is at, skill-wise. Abdul has to have a schedule, so they assign him LA9. So LA9 teacher starts teaching LA9, with no differentiation because, well, most teachers don't differentiate that much.

Abdul excels at vocab, but his comp is low. It takes a month for this information to be revealed. THEN teacher might start to differentiate...

But if Abdul came to HS with a deeper set of data about skill levels, instruction could be provided from the get-go that meets his specific needs. He might even be scheduled into classes that meet his needs more closely.

Lastly, "take teacher's word for it" is problematic when you have social promotion, particularly at the lower levels, but even through 8th grade: An elementary student could move up the grades while still not being "at level" in numerous areas. Some high school teachers address the problem of teaching students with 3-4 grade reading levels. MAP, or similar tests, could help these teachers (and registrars) understand where a student is at so as to meet that need. Should a 3rd grade reader be in a regular-ed LA9?

So this deeper data can help. But it can also hinder. As has been pointed out, good teaching is often "going with the flow" with a wide range of students (culture, language, level...) and to parse out each student to too great a level could lead to losing the forest in looking at trees, and it could narrow the forest to just those trees that can be cut into quantifiable, objective...cordwood?
(Education becomes just those things that can be MAPped, WASLed, lexiled etc, rather than the art of sweeping all students along with you as you dance amongst the great knowledge, quantifiable and unquantifiable, that swrils around the world...


WV ask that we ponde this as we ponde our children's educational futures!

Charlie Mas said...

Regarding "taking the teacher's word for it":

When a teacher passes a student from grade to grade, that teacher is saying that the student has fulfilled the Standards and meets the grade level expectation for the grade completed.

From the promotion policy:
"Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the Necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade."

Now, if that were true, then there would be no students who are even as much as two grade levels behind, would there? There would be no students entering the sixth grade reading at the fourth grade level.

Yet we know - we KNOW - that there are students working two years below grade level, some in more than just one or two sub-classes of a subject, some in more than just one or two core subjects.

So much for taking the teachers' word for it when the teacher says that the student is doing just fine and making good progress.

If we cannot rely on the teachers for an honest assessment of the students' abilities in this, the most solemn and critical assessment - the progress report - then how can we rely on the teachers for an honest assessment in an informal communication?

Texas said...

In my opinion, an effective teacher must be sufficiently competent in two main areas: Classroom management/behavior, ability to teach the required content.

How do you measure this?

Teaching content:
1) Use of tools such as MAP testing.
2) Principal evaluations
3) WASL? If you followed a child's performance on the WASL from year to year?

Classroom management skills:
1) A principal or lead teacher should sit in on classes and evaluate performance.

Other measures

1) Principal/School and district should be responsive to ongoing and chronic complaints against a teacher (by families, other teachers, or the principal). So should the principal/school/district recognize ongoing compliments, community awards, and requests for a teacher.

2) The use of surveys could be useful. Surveys filled out anonymously by parents of children in younger grades, and surveys filled out by the students in high school. Also, anonymous teacher to teacher peer surveys could be a fantastic tool. I don't think survey feedback should be used in a formal evaluation of the teacher, but would certainly be useful to a principal. It could be a tool used to help identify a teacher who needs further training or to identify and give recognition to a superior teachers.

wseadawg said...

SC: Great example, but I have zero faith the district has the competency, or the resources, to provide the "interventions" they say they will. You have multiple scenarios with one common trait - they go onto the backs of the teachers, who are already not properly resourced or supported. We can snarl all we want about teacher's not differentiating enough, but the reality is that most I have encountered differentiated quite alot already. The notion that any classroom contains 25 kids working at the same level, or even close to the same level is absurd.

Charlie: You're back to the issue of bad teachers and what to do about them. If MAP testing identifies and isolates the "social promotion" problem, guess what? They'll scrap it. That dirty little secret has gone on for decades and will continue. What do you expect will happen? Do you think 100 kids at each high school will not be graduated, despite their "D", because they aren't proficient according to the MAP? This will be one hell of a challenge to overcome, and you and I know exactly what will happen. The MAP's makers will be accused of bias, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Sorry to be so jaded, but while the MAP itself may reveal some data, I think we already have the data it will reveal, and largely ignore it anyways. I just don't see this system developing the individuality, competency, or know-how to deal with the size, scope and complexity of the problems as outlined by SC. My two cents.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for all of your comments. I don't want to start a firestorm with unwarranted accusations here. We sat our kids down this morning as asked them again to report what happened. The younger kid quickly denied saying/hearing anything of the sort (despite our assurances that she wasn't in trouble), but the older kid recalled our previous conversation and the that the teacher saying "a hint is to not try to hard at the beginning..."

I'm not quite sure what to do. I may ask the teacher directly (with my son there), but...ugh. She is very sweet but not the strongest teacher. I will ask other kids' parents in the class too before escalating this. It's true that the school appears to be struggling under Bowers. The staff satisfaction levels have plummeted under her, and ask someone else noted, so have scores.

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

Thanks SPSmom. The education director for NB is Gloria Mitchell, right? Apparently some NB parents went to her with documented complaints re the principal last spring and nothing happened.

I hesitate to file a formal complaint with just a child's word as evidence because it's a serious accusation. Hopefully it was a misunderstanding; however, if a classmate confirms our kid's report, then we'll file a complaint.

seattle citizen said...

wseadawg,
Yes, the idea that there are 25 students all working at the same level is absurd. And teachers DO differentiate...on the fly, often...because they HAVE to - students who up who are way ahead and way behind.

My personal favorite response to this probelm would be (don't laugh!):

Do away with grade levels entitely, and substitute subjct proficiency. This is already being done, somewhat, at the high school level as a new policy makes Sophomores, for instance, "credit freshmen." They are being looked at using their credit attainment rather than their supposed class (their cohort). I think students effected by this new policy are called "rollbacks": They WERE looked at as sophomores, for instance, but are now frosh...or froshmores, if one felt in the mood to make light of an unfortunate situation...

So MY system, if I was king of the world (ma), would be to eliminate grade levels entirely after, say, 5th grade. Students would work for proficiencies rather than to "keep up with their grade." Students learn at different rates in different subjects - let a student work at their own pace to get through, say LA, while accelerating in MA and SCI. Their would be no ostracism (oh, you're DUMB for being "behind a grade"!); instead, all students would be working at their own speeds and their own levels to get things done.

But that ain't gonna happen...so what do we do? How do educators get a grip on teaching to a variety of levels? We've heard that differentiation is part of the current reform in SPS, what will this look like? Will teachers have smaller classes to be able to deal with the variety? Will there be other supports? Or will the classes be streamlined, made less deep, so a wider variety of strategies and texts might be used?

hmmm, WV has not an inkly, either

seattle citizen said...

And wseadawg, yes, we already have the data MAP might reveal (in the student's previous teacher's possesion. HOw do we get it passed down the line, how do we use it later to help students at their level (again, after a month or two, a teacher should have some idea of various levels, but a continuous thread of data could be helpful...

WV dooks the question (Scottish for duck, in the sense of jumping into water...which we have too much of lately, SC says from his flooding garage...)

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

If you do not believe that your concerns were adequately addressed, you can escalate your complaint to the next level. After an education director comes the Chief Academic Officer.

I did not intend to suggest that social promotion was a reflection on teacher quality. I don't think it is. It is, rather, a reflection on a culture within the schools and within the district.

What would happen if a teacher adhered to the policy and did not promote students who did not meet the grade level expectations?

What would happen if more than one did it?

seattle citizen said...

Charlie,
I'm curious as to your take on social promotion being part of the "culture" of the school or district (or larger society?)

What drives it?

This question relates to both this thread (teacher/school "coaching" students during test, or teaching to the test...result is score that is not indicative of student skill level) and to the thread on MAP (IF there is a test that gives accurate assessment of student level, what happens when that doesn't correlate with past student "A"s if student scores low on MAP?

This is seen with the WASLs: Students who are seen as A students somehow tank part of the WASL - could be the test, the test environment, or...maybe they weren't an "A" student. Other indicators might not correlate, also.

(And you have the "hilarious" situation of states that show beautifully rising state test scores, when on long-term, naitonwide tests such as NEAP, scores remain flat...hmmm!)

reader said...

Funny how Charlie has no problem with "social promotion" in APP. According to him, they don't even need to take or pass the WASL. God forbid they need to show a standing of even "exceeds standard." No need to continue to demonstrate performance in the top 2% beyond that 1 doctor's note. Social promotion is only a problem for those "others".

Maureen said...

reader there might have been a way of communicating that idea that got a meaningful and constructive response. I'm guessing that wasn't it.

wseadawg said...

Reader: You're not grasping APP. Those kids have to remain proficient in subject matter 2 years ahead. Will they remain in the top 2%? Probably not. But they'll likely remain, say, in the top 10%, but doing work 2grades ahead. Of the APP families and teachers I know, I don't think they'd keep a kid in the program who wasn't able to do the work at a proficient level. It's simply an accelerated program with an unfortunate label ("Gifted").

seattle citizen said...

Reader, can you tell us where you got the idea that Charlie doesn't think APP students should take the WASL? I don't recall that. Many of us have bemoaned the WASL, generally, at times, but I can't recall Charlie ever suggesting that APP, specifically, should be exempt (especially not because APP students are "better" or anything. That just doesn't sound like Charlie to me.

Maureen said...

SC, ...Charlie doesn't think APP students should take the WASL?... It's not that they shouldn't TAKE it, just that they shouldn't have to PASS it.

I haven't looked for a citation, but it does sound familiar to me. We (including Charlie) have had discussions about how the WASL is not an appropriate way to measure APP eligibility (I agree) and how we shouldn't expect APP kids to all meet standard on the WASL (I have not been convinced of this). I am always surprised that 100% of APP kids do not meet standard.

wseadawg, Of the APP families and teachers I know, I don't think they'd keep a kid in the program who wasn't able to do the work at a proficient level.

Is there data on how many kids leave APP and why? I do not know very many enrolled APP kids personally, but I am aquainted with two who struggled and did not leave the program (would you?). Now both are at GHS and doing ok.

Do all WMS and HIMS APP kids get As in all subjects? Should they? What if they get Ds (or 2s in 1-5), is that ok? As far as I know, there is no standard. Once they are in, they are in.

Robert said...

Maureen are you a knight or a knave?

I ask because you keep asking questions that you seem to have the answers for. I missed a dinner engagement to fall into one of your endless ask-fest that you believe you already had the answers from some TOPS kids that told you that the APP program is bad... So why ASK?

My Kid is in APP because it works for her. I have talked to 100 kids who have scored 99-98 on the district's IQ test and it is working for them. (Bear in mind this is only annodatale)... But can we not all get ALONG?

I will no longer debate the merits of APP on this site and would welcome anyone to start a APP specific blog so that the naysayers can be ignored and we can actually discuss the merits of the application of very valuable program. WOW did i just save myself a hell of a lot of time going forward!

Finally back to MAPS not a problem in either of my children's classes... But this should be sorted out as it's just plain wrong.

lauram said...

This is one problem w/putting so much emphasis on one bubble test - gaming the system. One bubble test CANNOT measure all achievement or knowledge. Would you give a driver's license to someone just based on the bubble portion of the driving test? Or would you acknowledge that some knowledge can only be tested subjectively? But we want easy answers to difficult questions and so we get bubble tests and when people want to tie teachers' salaries to "achievement" as measured in a matter of months on a bubble test, we get teachers who try to make results look as good as possible. It isn't right, but it's what we get for demanding that we measure achievement this way. My real teachers taught me how to learn - and the results of their efforts were only apparent years later. But they didn't care - they were teaching me how to learn. Not how to "achieve" as measured by a bubble test.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I agree with Lauram.

There are so many reasons that any individual child might not perform well on that high-stakes bubble test—anywhere from having had a bad night's sleep to stress about the high stakes.

One test should never be the end all—especially if it's connected to teacher performance. I believe the biggest issue we have at SPS around poor-performing teachers is poor-performing principals. My personal experience saw some very ineffective teachers hang on during the time of a very bad principal, only to see them removed quite quickly when a new, effective principal came on the scene.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Any Spectrum or APP student can be exited from the program if they are deemed unable to keep up. I'm a several years out of Spectrum but I know this was the case and I was told it was by the previous Advanced Learning director. No one is getting any sort of free ride.

Jane said...

My daughter goes to John Hay and I didn't hear of any issues with the MAP. My daughter said she was told to expect that the questions would keep getting harder as she went along and that that was ok. I think the MAP testing is a good idea in that rather than just knowing if the kid has passed the standard, you'll know exactly how high (or low) they can go. Hopefully it will also be helpful to the teachers as they get to know the 26-30 kids in their class.

reader said...

No Wseadawg, a program which teaches 2 years ahead is NOT accelerated... it's simply "ahead". If it were accelerated, it would be 2 years ahead at some grade level, then 4 years, the 8 years or something similar. Charlie has many times bemoaned the "passing the WASL" requirement, which has now been killed. I don't think "passing the WASL" should be an entrance requiremnt but basic information about student progress. Look, if you can't get a 4 on the WASL... you're not ahead, you're at standard. So you shouldn't be in APP. It's not a big mystery. And of course, students in the top 1% should be really high in the 4's on WASL. But we wouldn't expect a blunt instrument like the WASL to measure giftedness.... but it can absolutely measure "aheadness". How about accountability for that?

Right Melissa, APP students can be exited just like all general ed students can be "held back". It doesn't happen. The fact is, we don't hear Charlie advocating for APP student accountability, and we don't see it happening.

hschinske said...

"But we wouldn't expect a blunt instrument like the WASL to measure giftedness.... but it can absolutely measure "aheadness"."

No, it really can't. There are no out-of-level questions -- the only reason people don't more often get perfect scores is that the questions are so often badly written and ambiguous, that it's almost impossible to get the "right" answer every time, even if you know the material well.

Go check out your child's test sometime. The scoring is FAR too subjective to be useful for anything more than a pass/fail test. I had the benefit of seeing my twin daughters' tests next to one another, so I could see examples where one got full credit for an answer and the other didn't -- as far as I could see, the scores were the wrong way around as often as not.

I had one daughter go from a high 2 on the reading WASL (the first year she'd taken it, as we'd been boycotting previously) to a 4 the next year. There wasn't a bloody thing different in her ability to read and write (apart from the ordinary increase in maturity at that age) ... she had just figured out how to answer WASL questions better.

Helen Schinske

southmom said...

Hmm. What does every single issue suddenly become about APP? I know everyone loves their kids and wants the best for them, but it does feel like shouting in an echoing room. Honestly, it gets very circular.

reader said...

The APP kids should be taking the WASL two years ahead. But no, no, no... APP parents didn't want that either. In fact, they want nothing that shows the continuing need for the program for any kid. SPecial education has accountability, you need to continually qualify. So don't cry about "no out of level testing". Is the kid who got 2, the same one that required private testing to get in? Sounds like a pattern to me. Special testing to get in. Opting out of tests. Excuses for poor performance once in. Sure we can agree WASL isn't perfect, but it is something.

hschinske said...

"The APP kids should be taking the WASL two years ahead. But no, no, no... APP parents didn't want that either."

Yes, they did. There have been APP parents asking for out-of-level testing since ITBS days.

"Is the kid who got 2, the same one that required private testing to get in?"

Nope. Qualified for Spectrum based on school-administered CogAT and ITBS. We did submit talent search scores as well, but the CogAT and ITBS scores were above the cutoffs anyway.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

Reader, I often agree with you, even if not your tone. (although sometimes I agree with your tone and am envious of your completely anonymity so you can use it).

But here's a blanket statement to rebut. Not all APP families are against out of level testing. In fact, the very first time I met Bob V when my son was a first grader at Lowell I asked for this and was told no. The reason I objected to the wasl (and my son didn't take it while in APP) was that it's supposed to be a measure of accountability for the teachers. Grade level wasl for those kids most certainly does not provide that. (and many teachers I encountered needed better accountability).

Not all parents are against accountability for the kids in the program either, but that conversation needs to happen along with discussion of mission, best practices of admission testing and curriculum. All places that the audit pointed out weaknesses (and some of us parents have been discussing weaknesses for years. And years.) That sounds like a cop-out. I don't mean it to be. Just years of frustration and disillusionment.

You are also making another assumption here. Helen's daughter who scored a 2 on the WASL was never in APP.

Robert said...

southmom, as I said before it is the folks against APP that seem to hijack the threads with their distorted half-truths often in the form of an ambiguous question about the program... And most often folks step up to defend the valued program. No more for me!

reader said...

The issue here is APP parents whining about "social promotion" for other people. The way I see it, there's lots and lots of "social promotion" happening in APP... both with getting in and with staying in. If you're going to complain about it in others, you're own special deal should be squeaky clean.

hschinske said...

The thing about social promotion is that many kids who might or might not be qualified are being passed from grade to grade without anyone making sure they have needed skills. This is also a concern for every involved parent I have ever met. Hence so many people getting math tutors and what not.

Typically these kids of involved parents are not behind enough to be rated as below grade level, or it's only in one subject, so their being passed on with a continuing deficit is insufficient to be called social promotion, but it's all part of the same problem: that accurate assessment and intervention isn't being done. If it's a problem for our kids, we assume that children with less-involved parents are very much at risk of falling through the cracks.

That kind of thinking is behind a lot of activism: if such-and-such policy is bad even for my kid, who presumably has it pretty easy, it must be worse for kids X, Y, and Z. We are all on the same side here. It is not about just caring for what happens to our kids.

Helen Schinske

gavroche said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gavroche said...

Reader, what the heck are you on about? The only one who appears to be "whining about social promotion" is you. Seriously, these random APP-obsessed outbursts from you, and lately Maureen, fueled by half-baked, inaccurate information about these programs and schools say more about you and your own bizarre biases and prejudices against APP kids than anything legitimate about the program.

And as Robert pointed out, it's the non-APP parents with a bee in their bonnet about APP who are hijacking the threads, not the rest of us.

Enough already.

seattle citizen said...

gavroche,
I'm pretty neutral on APP, as I don't know all the ins and outs (tho' I would say I'm of the opinion that it IS a sort of special ed issue: students at the very tippy-top of intellectual abilities are somewhat unique, both academically and socially, so a cohort model, particularly in the lower grades, seems appropriate.

My feeling about "hijacking" threads is that since there a fair proportion of APP-affiliated parent/guardians on board here, the subject often turns to APP.

On THIS thread, it was Reader who hijacked the thread by bringing up APP...

While problems with testing do relate to APP (as has been mentioned ad infinitum) because of the entrance test(s), this thread was about bubble tests and the liuke until Reader brought up APP.