Sunday, April 19, 2015

Comments on both PARCC and SBAC Assessments

Comments are now pouring in on both tests.  Here are comments from the PARCC assessment in NY state and the SBAC here in Seattle.

One from The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post stands out:

An elementary principal of a well-regarded elementary school in an affluent, “gold-coast” district wrote the following:
 These three days of ELA have been torture – I had only 23 students opt out and I had at least 3 times that number in tears. If we were permitted to talk about the content, it would be over so fast. Folks would be horrified at the vocabulary, the reading levels and the ambiguity of the questions. I was unable to answer at least 25 percent of them.
SBAC in Seattle (this via I am an Educator):
The one thing noted already at our staff meeting is that there are no translations of directions, for example, in any of the African languages. Yet, there are some in other languages. There’s no French either and some of our African students speak French.
We have encountered a few problems with the SBAC site. We were unable to test the 11th grade students this morning (in math). We have also had computers that got frozen. We decided to give them the interim performance task and CAT as practice. Many of them rushed through it and didn’t take it seriously. The ones that did take it seriously finished both the Performance task and the CAT in about 3 hours.
Students spent a total of 6 hours completing the first half of the [Common Core] testing they are required to do. Students are being asked to navigate confusing split screens; drag, drop, and highlight; and type extended responses. They are being asked to demonstrate their learning in a completely different way than how they have acquired it. The district has said that the amount students are expected to type is not overwhelming. However, students are being asked to type an entire essay, several paragraphs long, on the computer. Our school does not have a technology teacher and not all students have computer access at home, so many students have not learned computer or keyboarding skills. I watched more than one student hitting the space bar over and over because they did not know how to go down to the next line to start a new paragraph.
I was so proud of my students for working through the test and trying their hardest, despite the challenges. We were all glad when a long week of testing was over and we could get back to learning. We later learned that the directions we received from the district about how to access the test and what the test was called were incorrect. This meant that an entire grade took the wrong test and were then required to retake it. We were told that this was not an isolated incident but had occurred at several schools. The look on my students’ faces when I told them we had to do the test again was heart-breaking.
On the PARCC assessment in NY state from teachers (you'll note that some teachers DID compare questions with each other - bad teachers):
The 3rd grade ELA (English-language arts) test contained FIVE long and dense reading passages – one teacher called them “impossible”- and 30 multiple choice questions. Third graders without testing accommodations had just 70 minutes to complete the test. Many students either didn’t finish or rushed to finish with seconds remaining. One child repeatedly hit the side of his head with the palm of his hand. Others shed tears and some felt ill.

A third grade teacher said the test was "brutal." She said with tears in her eyes that she couldn't bear to watch the kids struggling through. Her general Ed students had to test in a different room so those with IEPs ( this is an ICT class) could have the room for extra time.
And yes, our school had to print their own bubble sheets. 

Same for 7th grade. Many uninteresting passages, several of which inner city kids would have no reference point for. Most answers required looking back and rereading several lines and then trying to figure out which answer applied. How many 12 year olds will keep that up! Several of us teachers couldn't determine a right answer for several questions.

4th grade ELA day one: "Swimming With the Sharks" was a reading passage. Probably also how it felt to the kids.  

From my 12 year old 7th grade son - 6 long reading passages, 42 multiple choice questions with confusing choices. At least 80% of questions required going back to specific spot in text to find answer. He said "it was like you had to read everything twice." He's an A student who has won s writing award and he said it was very hard and confusing. 

I am a teacher. I had to look a child in the eye today and tell this child who was compelled to tell me that he was unable to read an entire passage on the assessment, losing all of the questions associated with it. He has worked so hard this year to bring himself up several grade levels. He was devastated. I looked at him right in the eye and said, “Do not worry. Do your best. I will never know your score. We will never use your score to make any decision about you as a student. Please just relax and try your best.” I wanted to cry.

3rd grade ELA test, day 1 - what was the answer to #13 (the question about winter) from "Eating Plates?" It could have easily been three of the four answers. Would love to know how it will be scored.


Anonymous said...

I took the 8th reading exam (sample) test myself. I found it to be a one-trick pony. The same type of question was asked over and over again (30 times) without a change in difficulty. Furthermore, unlike some of our more familiar standardized tests (like PSAT, SAT), the exam did not cover a breadth of different types of questions that probe the building blocks of reading comprehension.

It is not a good test. This test, as far as I can tell, will not be able to distinguish between students with different levels of academic achievement - they'll either "get" the question format or not. For this type of test, teachers will be forced to teach to the test so that their students can pass.


seattle citizen said...

A north Seattle high school reported today that only 1/3 of 10th graders had finished the test in the week they had before break, so the test coordinator will be pulling those 2/3s out of classes this week. As they had already missed a week of ELA classes (test was given during those periods), students will not be pulled out of ELA but rather other classes, randomly, which will impact instruction in THOSE classes now as some students won't be in class.
Meanwhile, other teachers are wondering when they will be able to use the many computers being used for SBA, if ever this year......Maybe computers will just be forevermore dedicated to testing, why not, what the heck....

Anonymous said...

How fair is it that SBAC in an un-timed test, while PARCC is timed? How can you compare scores? Also, how fair is it that some students' scores will be based on tests taken in March, while some won't take them til May? It's a very large test window.


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