Thursday, March 19, 2015

SBAC Testing Updates

The Superintendent - in his comments at last night's Board meeting - had very little to say about how it's going for SPS  and SBAC testing.

But here's one man's dissection of the SBAC math from the GFBrandenburg's Blog (he's a retired math teacher).  The critique of SBAC math is from Steven Rasmussen from SR Education Associates.  Mr. Brandenburg breaks it down (as Mr. Rasmussen's writing is quite lengthy but very in-depth). 

Here is the money quote:

“…the Smarter Balanced tests are lemons. They fail to meet acceptable standards of quality and performance, especially with respect to their technology-enhanced items. They should be withdrawn from the market before they precipitate a national catastrophe.”

As well as this one:

Ironically, while poor results on the Common Core tests will be a blow to policy makers, parents, educators, and students, they will be a boon to those in education for a profit. 

 What flaws did Mr. Rasmussen find?

• Poorly worded and ambiguous mathematical language and non-mathematical instructions;
• Incorrect and unconventional mathematical graphical representations;
• Inconsistent mathematical representations and user interfaces from problem to problem;
• Shoddy and illogical user interface design, especially with respect to the dynamic aspects of the mathematical representations; • Consistent violations and lack of attention to the Common Core State Standards;
• Failure to take advantage of available technologies in problem design.

Technology-enhanced items could have made use of widely ratified and highly developed technologies (e.g., graphing calculators, dynamic geometry and data analysis tools) to engage students in substantive tasks. Instead, these tests rely on a small number of pedestrian and illogical interface “widgets”(arrays of checkboxes, crude drawing tools, graphical keypad, drag-and-drop digit pilers, etc.) that the test item writers used via question templates.The widgets often provide window dressing for multiple-choice questions. 

Mr. Brandenburg received a video from a 5th grade teacher in Clinton Townsehip, MI whose students are very tech-savvy but could not understand what to do on the practice SBAC math test.

From Mr. Brandenburg's critique's section - What Can We Do? - has many good ideas, most of which need courage to carry out:


The national testing train is hurtling down the tracks out of control. Fueled by lucrative contracts with testing companies, driven by people with insufficient understanding of the educational and social consequences of their actions, and racing to reach a destination in too little time, the train will crash very soon. 

What can one do? The boldest choice, and in some real sense, the most principled one, would be to jump off. 

If I were a state administrator responsible for state testing, a superintendent, a school board member, a teacher, a parent, or even a student old enough to make my own decisions about my education, I would seriously consider not participating in the coming round of high-stakes national testing—the tests will do too much damage on too many levels to students, teachers, and champions of education. I salute those who have taken courageous stands to opt-out of the new rounds of testing. The tests cannot be fixed in the time before they’ll be administered. And in the current political climate, there will not be funding available for those who could fix them to actually fix them. 

I recognize that a stand to resist the tests has many consequences, some severe in the short run. But anyone who takes this stand now will be exonerated in the long run. It is the moral and practical thing to do. Next year a stand taken against the tests today will look prescient.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know a number of teachers at my children's school quite well. I asked them if they were having their own child take the test. I did this because I thought it would be a good way to find out what they think --- like asking a doctor what they'd do if it were their child.

Not one teacher had their child take the test. Not. One. Sample size = 5.

I have now opted my children out with a clear conscience.

Thinking Mom

Anonymous said...

Next up - new SAT. The same blog has a post on what's wrong with the new SAT...

https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/atlantic-magazine-article-on-whats-wrong-with-the-new-sat/

ugh

Anonymous said...

Atlantic article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/new-sat-new-problems/384596/

(sorry for veering off topic)

ugh

Linh-Co said...

The SBA is a state requirement and a part of both state and federal law. Since we are already a high risk grantee for Special Education, failure to give the SBA could further jeopardize our federal funds. Teacher and principal contracts, as well as state certification, also require adherence to state law. All employees responsible for administering the SBA are directed to give the SBA as required by law and/or their supervisor. I would also ask that staff give appropriate professional advice (rather than personal advice) to parents. SBA administration has begun for many of our schools and will begin soon for many more. I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard to prepare for these assessments – from student learning, to keyboarding, to technology, to the logistics of scheduling, and more. A note to those with personal/professional objections to administering the SBA: Staff who object to administering the SBA must give advanced notice to their supervisor and work with their supervisor to insure that arrangements are made for SBA administration and coverage. For those who give advanced notice, refusal to give the SBA will be considered as misconduct. Consequences will be determined after further consideration and review of the CBA. Failure to give advanced notice of your refusal to administer the SBA, will be considered as insubordination and flagrant misconduct, and it will result in the imposition of serious discipline, up to and including termination of your employment and a referral to OSPI to take action on your certificate. Finally, I want to restate my confidence in the teachers and students of Seattle.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linh-Co said...

Here's the complete letter:

Dear Staff, Some of you have expressed concern about the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Concerns have included questions about the utility of the assessment, the instructional time lost due to testing and the likelihood of lower test scores. I encourage you to visit our newly developed Frequently Asked Questions on our district website. I would acknowledge that the SBA presents unique challenges – particularly in regard to this year’s test administration. Although the amount of SBA testing time for each individual student is relatively small (about eight hours depending on grade level), because of our limited technology, the administration of the test is spread out through much of the spring months. The SBA however, does take several steps in the right direction. It reflects the higher College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core) which our students need to compete successfully in a global market for family wage jobs (75% of family wage jobs now require SOME college). Yes, the SBA does measure student progress against a higher standard and the percentage of students that achieve proficiency will likely be lower. We have seen similar trends with the WASL, the MSP, the HSPE, and the EoCs. In each case, we have learned from the test results and risen to the challenge. I am confident that we will do so again, and that the preparation work done in Washington and Seattle will mean that our state and district scores will continue to compare favorably.

Linh-Co said...

Seattle currently outperforms the state in Reading, Math, Science and Writing. I also take seriously my oath of office promising to uphold state and federal laws. The SBA is a state requirement and a part of both state and federal law. Since we are already a high risk grantee for Special Education, failure to give the SBA could further jeopardize our federal funds. Teacher and principal contracts, as well as state certification, also require adherence to state law. All employees responsible for administering the SBA are directed to give the SBA as required by law and/or their supervisor. I would also ask that staff give appropriate professional advice (rather than personal advice) to parents. SBA administration has begun for many of our schools and will begin soon for many more. I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard to prepare for these assessments – from student learning, to keyboarding, to technology, to the logistics of scheduling, and more. A note to those with personal/professional objections to administering the SBA: Staff who object to administering the SBA must give advanced notice to their supervisor and work with their supervisor to insure that arrangements are made for SBA administration and coverage. For those who give advanced notice, refusal to give the SBA will be considered as misconduct. Consequences will be determined after further consideration and review of the CBA. Failure to give advanced notice of your refusal to administer the SBA, will be considered as insubordination and flagrant misconduct, and it will result in the imposition of serious discipline, up to and including termination of your employment and a referral to OSPI to take action on your certificate.

Linh-Co said...

Finally, I want to restate my confidence in the teachers and students of Seattle. We live in challenging times. Each of us – superintendent, principal, teachers, and students – faces increased challenges in support of student learning. There is no question, we are each being asked to do what seems daunting. The challenge of our times is whether we face those challenges with a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset. A fixed mindset says we are what we are and have no hope for future growth. A growth mindset says that we can each learn and grow through dedicated effort. Seattle has demonstrated that kind of growth mindset resulting in a steady increase in test scores. The growth over the past six years has been exemplary district-wide and includes more schools of distinction than any other district in Washington. We have that hope and aspiration for each of our students and each of us as colleagues and professionals. Thank you – each of you – for your part in making great things happen for each and every one of our students. Sincerely, Larry Nyland, Superintendent PS: Although the focus of this memo is Smarter Balanced Assessments, I recognize the challenges presented by the combination of SBA, district interim assessments and other building assessments like the SAT and WAKids. I have had initial talks with SEA and look forward to further conversations about creative options that will help us focus more clearly on the assessments that matter the most for learning.

Linh-Co said...

I see it now. It's signed by Larry Nyland.

Opt-Out said...

Larry Nyland advocates for legislation that isn't supported by the American Statistical Association.

Just Facts said...

OK, "appropriate professional advice." I suggest teachers share the following strictly factual statements with interested families.

1) The district is required by law to administer the test. There is no law requiring any student to take the test.

2) X number of hours of class time will be spent preparing for and taking the test.

3) The results of the tests and any data that might be useful will not be available to me until after your child leaves my classroom.

4) The district has indicated that any staff who refuses to administer the test will be cited for misconduct and potentially fired.

5) Many resources regarding SBAC and standardized testing may be found through internet searches.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I thought the district is required to administer tests but by law it dies not have to be SBAC?

Anonymous said...

"Although the amount of SBA testing time for each individual student is relatively small (about eight hours depending on grade level)"

Are we really at the point where this seems like a small amount of testing?

parent

Anonymous said...

I'm spending just as much time preparing for the SBAC in my 5th grade classroom as we spent on the MSP. I want them to feel confident with the technology they'll have to use. As I see it, the test will take 2-3 hours longer than the MSP.

-bh

Anonymous said...

As a whole it will take 2-3 hours longer, not per test.

-bh

Anonymous Today said...

"Although the amount of SBA testing time for each individual student is relatively small (about eight hours depending on grade level)"

I agree with parent. When did 8 hours of testing for a third grader become a relatively small amount of time?

Shall we talk about the loss of instructional hours because teachers are having kids practice logging onto computers.

Nyland's threat to turn teachers into oSPI and have their teaching certification removed is over the top. IMO he is acting like a real jackash.

Anonymous Today said...

I guess teachers aren't supposed to have opinions.

Anonymous said...

8 hours of testing? That's longer than the GRE, or the MCAT. Ridiculous. And of course, that doesn't count the test prep, the waiting for computers, the waiting for the kids who take 32 or 40 hours.... instead of 8. If the "average" is 8, than some will be much longer. That doesn't count the time waiting for the library to be available for something else - oops, it'll be busy for SBAC come back in June. Oh school's out then, OK. See ya in fall, when we start administering Amplify to get ready for next year's SBAC.

Empl

Stephen said...

Roosevelt has information on SBAC online now. Interesting that they state "This is NOT a graduation requirement, but the state is requiring students to test for accountability reasons."

I thought it was a requirement that the school give the test, not that the student must take it.

11th graders will take the Math portion during a week (!) of late arrival days, and the ELA portion during an entire week of their LA class in May.

I did call RHS and a counselor told me that should I opt my child out, they'll show up at 9:50 with the rest of the kids instead of taking the Math SBAC, and would spend a week in the library instead of taking the ELA SBAC.

RHS site: http://roosevelths.seattleschools.org/

SBAC document: http://roosevelths.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1708880/File/Testing%20Resources/State%20Assessments%20for%202015[1].pdf?sessionid=207185afd0b0795b56034ec655ed4730

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, the STATE is required to give the tests - the students do NOT have to take them in the 11th grade.

Your child does not have to take this test and there is no good reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, SBAC ELA is a graduation requirement if your student is in 10th grade, (eg. Class of 2017) and for all classes coming up behind that. Kinda stupid that they don't separate out Reading and Writing. But oh well. I wonder what the pass rates for 10th graders will be?

Parent

Anonymous said...

The writing is based on reading grade-level non-fiction passages, a.k.a. "performance task." The sample shown to me was about the government role in public funded art including the history of Public Art, a piece on a Picasso sculpture in Chicago, and an article from a finance magazine. As an ELA teacher whose students' scores on this task are now, by law, solely to be used in my evaluation, I need to make sure my students have a college ready understanding of art history, government funding, and economics. Do I just trust my SS department colleagues are "doing me a solid" and hope for the best?
-hopeIcan

Anonymous said...

Ah. What have I been saying for the better part of the last decade? Follow the money. Always, always, follow the money. WSDWG