Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Starting MSP Testing Today

Good luck to all our students - you can do it!

Watch this inspirational video made by the staff at Denny International Middle School.  Looks like a labor of love (note; seems geared to high schoolers).


Sahila said...

the other thing parents and teachers could do is OPT OUT... dont make children sit these tests and stop administering them...

there's a nationwide movement of parents pulling their children out...

School Boards are signing onto a national resolution calling for end to high states testing

and PTAs nationally are also calling for the same....

dont take my word for it....

I'm too tired/busy to post the live links here substantiating my comments but the info is easy to find - its all current.... google is a marvellous resource...

Patrick said...

At least the MSP is a decent test, as tests go. Not all multiple-choice.

Anonymous said...

4th & 5th graders taking MSP or MAP 2 days per week for three weeks this month.

1st grader told me today that doing the "computer work" (MAP) was easy since it never asks him more than 22 questions. Older sister let him know to answer some questions wrong on purpose if he wanted to work on the computer more.


NW mom

Anonymous said...

Ethics question for y'all--

If your child does not take (and has not ever taken) math at their middle/high school because the school does not offer a course at a high enough level, is it more ethical to:

(a) have them opt out of the MSP, so their school doesn't get "credit" for a score on which it had no impact; or

(b) have them take it anyway to help contribute their small share to making the school and district look better?

Are there negative consequences for schools if people opt out? I don't think there are any big negatives at the student-level, but if I've overlooked something please let me know!

Oh, and if one does want to opt out, what's the procedure?

Thanks for any insights,
To MSP or not to MSP...

Charlie Mas said...

@To MSP or not to MSP...

I would opt out.

I don't know if it is a question of ethics, but I'm pretty sure that your child's score on a math test - when your child didn't take any math classes at the school - would be an intentional misrepresentation.

There are no negative consequences for students, teachers, or schools when students opt out of the MSP.

Unless the school is a Title I school, the MSP is completely meaningless. There are no sanctions at all.

Even if the school is a Title I school, there are no real, meaningful negative consequences and lower pass rates could, actually bring some additional funding, but it could also result in a loss of some autonomy about what interventions they use for struggling students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To MSP - there are no negative consequences that I am aware of in opting out in middle/high school. Teachers/administrators might not like it but that's not your concern.

To opt out, you send a letter (hard copy) to the school explaining that you are opting your child out of the test and that you are aware that the school needs to provide someplace for them to be (library).

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I just talked to someone in the district's assessment office, and was encouraged to have my child sit for the test. I was told it hurts the school if someone opts out, as the school gets a zero for that child (as opposed to their non-results simply being excluded from the analysis). That seems hard to believe, but maybe it's the case... The primary rationale given for taking the MSP seemed to be that a high score would help make the school look good. My concern that it misrepresented the outcomes of math instruction in the district were dismissed, and instead I felt more like we were being asked to participate as a favor to the school/district. I'm sure the state has an interest in knowing how many kids meet the standards, but the school district sure didn't do a good job of convincing me that my child should bother.

Not Likely to MSP

Sahila said...


I know you send your children to school each day trusting that the state is doing its best to provide a quality education and that the new testing regimes are designed to gather information to help teachers provide a program beneficial to each child. We all know budgets are tight in this economy and most of us are willing to sacrifice a bit and tolerate larger class sizes, smaller budgets for school resources, and less attention to facility needs and maintenance.

Unfortunately, your trust is misplaced. The Federal Department of Education, backed by big business, is forcing this testing on our children and there is no appreciable gain in learning over the more than ten years the plan has been in place. In fact, results of the testing do not generally get back to teachers before the children move on to a new grade and new teachers. Plus, the tests were not designed to provide feedback for instructional improvement in the first place. The original intent of standardized tests was to provide general information on how groups of students were doing compared to others across a state or across the nation. They have been subverted to classify children, teachers and schools, purposes for which they have never been validated. In other words, your children are being subjected to weeks of test prep and days or weeks of actual testing to prove the unprovable.

And there is the little matter of cost. New York State has contracted with Pearson, one of the testing giants, to score their high-stakes (but useless) test for the sum of $352 MILLION. That is $352 million that is not going to reducing class size, buying books, or fixing roofs. Similar contracts are being written in every state and it does not end there. Big companies like Pearson also supply test prep materials, pre-tests, and various other practice tests. And guess what? They are now selling books to teach to the tests.

As a grand parent of school age children, I am outraged that this is happening. My grand children are being cheated out of weeks of real instruction, can't even take many exploratory or vocational classes because of the narrowing of the curriculum brought about through the focus on testing, have to sit for hours through tests that have no practical purpose, and do so in schools that are crumbling using outdated books and resources. You may not realize it, but this is happening to your children and to children across the nation.

I felt hopeless about what is happening until I realized it is up to parents and grandparents to stand up and say “This must stop!” I started a Facebook page and a website, gathered a few friends, and wrote a letter to President Obama calling for an end to high-stakes testing and changes in the operation of the US Department of Education, including dismissal of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It is my belief that it is his job to protect children from the sorts of abuses that his policies promote. We now have collected thousands of signatures demanding an end to this experiment on our children.

If you would like to learn more about our movement which now includes parents, educators, and concerned citizens from every state, go to our website and read our letter to Obama. If you want to end the tyranny of useless testing, sign the letter and pass it on to friends, relatives, and colleagues. Petition to Dump Duncan

Thanks for your interest in the welfare of your children

Bob Valiant
Kennewick, Washington

To test or not to test said...

Hmm...lots to think about.

If you are homeschooling your child, even part-time, I thought you were required to take an annual assessment to show your child is making progress. The MSP requires no out-of-pocket expense on your part and is verification that yes, they know grade level standards. Of course they will probably do fine if you're homeschooling to work ahead of or bypass the district curriculum.

Sahila said...

A testing culture out of control
The joy of learning is gone from our kids' schools


After months of studying, stressing and — yes — some crying, our kids are finally done with this year’s state English Language Arts and math exams. This happens every year, and each year seems more intense than the last.

But after all the fuss and agony to rate our kids, their teachers and their schools, what have our children really learned?

If your kids are anything like our kids, they’ve learned more about pressure and bureaucracy than math and English.

We each have a son who just soldiered through the exams in order to satisfy this frantic push for “accountability.” As the amount of testing time grew, in part to allow for inconsequential “norming” questions inserted by the company administering the exams (like the infamous, incomprehensible “The Hare and Pineapple” passage that recently came to light), their time under the gun added up to nine hours of test-taking each.

Christopher, Coleen’s sixth-grader, took his exams very, very seriously. He worked hard at what seemed like an unending slew of practice tests. He obsessed over each mistake as if it were proof he was doomed.

Last year was just as bad. During the math test, he became suddenly overcome with anxiety and froze on a question. He was so obsessed that he nearly failed the entire exam.

Lisa’s boy, Jacob, a fifth-grader, started the school year in a happy-go-lucky mood. He came home throughout the fall talking nonstop about what he was learning, doing his homework with relatively little fuss.

When testing season began this year, however, he started complaining about how boring school had become. Jacob is just 10, but he can see that his teacher is worried about the tests, as he has to be, given that a new teacher evaluation system will rely heavily on their results.

The story seems the same no matter where you live or where you’re from. The two of us, for instance, come from very different backgrounds: One of us is a fourth-generation New Yorker living in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; the other was born in Guyana and lives in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Yet our kids face the same emotional struggles, and we are left each year with the same doubts about these increasingly influential tests.

We’re not alone. In its 2011 report, the National Academy of Sciences committee that Congress commissioned to review the nature and implications of America’s test-based accountability systems concluded that the tests “have not increased student achievement.” An author of the report summarized its findings this way: “There are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress, and there is widespread teaching to the test and gaming of the systems that reflects a wasteful use of resources and leads to inaccurate or inflated measures of performance.”

That’s not a surprising analysis when you consider the often-dubious content of the tests themselves, such as the aforementioned story of the hare and the pineapple, which confounded even “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings.

One of the most painful parts of the testing mania is that schools are forced to narrow their curriculums to maximize test prep and increase instruction time around math and English. For the past four years, our kids’ schools have cut enrichment programming to clear the way. The same is true at many schools across the city.

We’re not against testing to find out how well our kids are learning; we’re against learning designed only for the sake of testing. We have no doubt millions of parents around the country share our frustration. It’s time to say enough is enough. Maybe then our children could spend their spring enjoying school — and also, for a moment, being kids, too.

Cowan is a parent at Public School 261. Mingo is a parent at the School for International Studies.

Sahila said...

NYS exams found to have yet more errors; Commis King minimizes faulty Pearson tests; calls them "occasional typos" - State Officials Throw Out Another Pearson Test Question

how much is Seattle paying for standardised testing again?

Sahila said...

If you are homeschooling, you may opt out of testing....

I know, because I registered as a 'homeschooler' yesterday here on Vashon Island - we are actually unschooling - and the principal of the District's homeschooling resource centre reminded me that we had the option to opt out...

It was the same in Shoreline....

Charlie Mas said...

Not Likely to MSP wrote:

"I just talked to someone in the district's assessment office, and was encouraged to have my child sit for the test. I was told it hurts the school if someone opts out, as the school gets a zero for that child (as opposed to their non-results simply being excluded from the analysis)."

Yes. The school gets a zero for your child and that zero counts as not passing in the school's pass rate for the test. So the school's pass rate is incrementally reduced.

So what? That incremental reduction in the pass rate is completely without consequence. Even if a lot of people opted out of the test and the pass rate were significantly reduced as a result, it would still be without consequence for the school.

There are no consequences for schools when the MSP pass rate is down.

Anonymous said...

To say there are no consequences if a school's pass rate goes down is utterly foolish, Charlie. Not in this "data" and "accountability" obsessed culture, love it or hate it. Parents jump to conclusions all the time if they see a pass rate drop, and no amount of explaining for the reasons for a drop will ever make a difference once they make that snap judgement. Explanations always sound either dismissive or defensive, and the consequences on public confidence are great. Don't be so cavalier, Charlie.


Charlie Mas said...

Emile, so you're telling me that their pride and reputation is hurt, and that is a consequence?


Jan said...

Charlie: I thought Emile's point went more to things like: parents see the low scores, don't understand that they are depressed because 60% of the school opts out of testing (secretly, they are all taking after school trig and competing in advanced robotics competitions), the school's population starts to fall as parents think it is a bad school -- and the District slates it for closure, or fires the principal and staff on the grounds of test scores, or something equally absurd. Sort of silly example -- but I thought that was her point.

I am also rabidly anti-test (of the WASL/MAP variety -- not sure what I think about MSP/HSPE), but the only way it will be without consequence is if enough of us do it that it totally undermines the ability of the District to try to misuse the test scores -- so we can all go back to trying to figure out what schools are good (or not) based on more valid measures.