Monday, May 18, 2015

Smarter Balanced Classroom Activity - 10th Grade ELA

I received this classroom activity for 10th grade ELA on "Environmental Interdependence (Environmental Awareness)."

- the directions are somewhat confusing
- Can't we get solar energy from the sun in other ways than the one way noted on the activity?
- for me, calling the teacher "the facilitator" seems odd. 
- pretty step-by-step for teachers, down to what to say
- the odd diagram they ask for isn't something I think most kids would be able to read and get very quickly

But I'm not a teacher so teachers, any thoughts? 


Lynn said...

Slightly off topic - Garfield's sophomores are taking it this week. All other students have a three hour late start three days in a row.

Nine more instructional hours lost.

Anonymous said...

Ingraham's sophomores are also taking it this week, but their classes will continue to meet. So choose to test or choose to keep up with classwork.

-IHS parent

Anonymous said...

Don't settle in earthquake zones. I think the cows are already out of the barn on that one.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I am a teacher, and I have a thought. This is horrible, for children, parents, and teachers. Just horrible. Please, parents, opt out of this madness.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, there is no 10th grade SBAC ELA performance task and classroom activity. There are only the 11th grade ELA and math assessments.

And is what you posted an actual test item taken by students this year for graduation purposes, or is it from the practice test?

--- swk

seattle citizen said...

That's pretty ironic, questioning the reliability of this posted sample of SBA madness when the Classroom Activities themselves are rife with opportunity for different delivery of the instructions and, hence, the scores of Performance Tasks they feed become unreliable. Some teachers could use precise diction at modulated volume while drawing these sorts of ridiculous and imprecise drawings precisely on the board, while others might talk into their sleeve while chickenscratching random lines; some groups of students might respond to prompts with detailed and articulate suggestions that their classmates understand about solar energy while others talk into their sleeves. The upshot is the same: Classroom Activities can roll out differently, leaving students variably prepared for the Performance Task. Hence, scores are unreliable.
But go ahead and attempt to insert doubt about THIS Classroom Activity into blog readers' minds, swk. While you do an admirable job of getting the test manufacturer's sales pitch out here, most of us have either seen examples of this kind of shoddy test design or been told about it by our kids themselves.
Students aren't dumb: they recognize absurdity, and SBA is doing a fine job of making them think the high-stakes tests they are asked to take are, yes, absurd. Not only does this dissuade them from taking other tests that might actually be helpful, it causes them to lose faith that the adults who are supposed to be leading them forward don't know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

The use of the word facilitator is deliberate as Pearson et al work to deprofessionalize teaching. Anyone who has taken their online test administrator training is qualified to administer the test. Therefore, no actual teacher needed, and thus the unreliability of results described by Seattle Citizen.


Anonymous said...

Mistake me not, SC. In this instance, I think this is an actual test question from the 11th grade SBAC ELA assessment given to 10th graders in our state for graduation purposes.

And I think a public educator, despite signing a confidentiality agreement, chose to photocopy this item and share it with Melissa. And Melissa chose to publish this actual test item.

I don't know why Melissa would feel motivated to publish this test item.

However, if my assumption is correct, I think this is a serious lapse in judgment and her ethics are called into question. Let's not forget, Melissa some time back published the names and home addresses of some people with whom she disagreed, she called out an anonymous poster by name and by place of employment, and now she's publishing secure test materials that are not intended for public distribution.

This had me concerned. But then I realized that Melissa is not a professional journalist but merely a blogger. She's no more a journalist than Valerie Strauss is a journalist. There are no journalistic ethics for which she need adhere. She can do as she pleases (within some legal limits) on her own blog. It's her blog.

And I got to thinking that it's probably only a matter of time before Melissa figures out who I am and calls me out by name. Maybe she'll publish my home address and the names of my children and what schools they attend.

You know, as a number of posters have suggested, I'm just a dirty scum ed deformer whose kids must attend private school. I'd probably deserve to have my name and employer published along with the names of my children and the schools they attend. After all, this is ideological warfare and all's fair in love and war.

--- swk

Hina Khan said...

Can't we get solar energy from the sun in other ways than the one way noted on the activity?

Multan Board SSC Result 2015

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, its title is what I wrote and has the SBAC logo. It is four pages long (if you look at the link) so it surely cannot be a question on a test. As well, it has the students working together and using paper and pencil.

It is exactly what it is.

As for my ethics, I never intentionally published any addresses of people. It was part of an e-mail disclosure where the DISTRICT had failed to redact and I didn't realize they hadn't (just like the episode at Roosevelt with Sped). And, a reader put them up, not me.

As for the person who got called out and her employer, you have your facts wrong. And IN FACT, when that person took me to court, her case was summarily thrown out.

SWK, you give yourself far too much credit. I don't care who you are and I'm sorry you feel threatened. (Maybe because you think I'm good at what I do).

I find it very amusing that people think all I have time to do is sit around researching THEM when my research is (and has been) largely about issues, not people (or people tied to those issues). Especially - very especially - at this time in my life.

That you would say I would directly do anything to hurt someone's child is beneath you. But what did you say - all's fair in love and war - and smearing my reputation is just part of that, right?

Anonymous said...


You already called yourself out on this blog when you stated that you work in the testing industry, have ties to OSPI, have testified to OSPI, your wife's profession, etc. (or something to these effects--I don't care enough to go back and look up your comments, but they are all for the world to see if they choose). Nobody on this blog cares to out you but, even if they did, you beat them to it.

I have noticed you play the "I'm being personally attacked" card whenever someone makes a point that you'd rather not hear, as SC just did.

If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. But stop playing victim. It's really pathetic.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Re: the Classroom Activity (posted by Melissa) and the Performance Task that follows it, it seems to me that either one of these has to be true:

(1) The Classroom Activity is a pointless, unimportant part of the SBA--in which case, why are they wasting our students' valuable time and interfering with regular instruction? Why not just skip straight to the Performance Task?


(2) The Classroom Activity is an important part of the SBA, essential in ensuring accurate results on the Performance Assessment. If this is the case, however, that means TEACHER performance (in "facilitating" the CA), and the quality of peer interaction (since the CA is designed to involved small group work and class interaction), are also important variables impacting performance on the Performance Task. But as they are not collecting data on either the quality of the teacher facilitation or the quality of the peer discussion, how can there be any meaningful interpretation of individual students' results on the Performance Task? You can't say that something is an important part of the process, then disregard the way in which it went down.

My guess is that inclusion of the Classroom Activity is some way to help bring TEACHER performance into the SBA, so that they could more easily make the case in tying teacher evaluations to test scores. However, since you really can't unpack teacher vs. group vs. individual components in this mess, we'll be left with a bunch of data that don't mean much. Aside from a lot of money spent and time lost, that is.

At least it's gotten a lot of parents to sit up and start paying a bit more attention, so there's one good thing.

Half Full

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hale students are taking it today.


Anonymous said...

F the confidentiality.

I posted the 5th grade "cabinet" performance task a couple days ago - my kid was concerned about the "confidentiality" that was drilled even into little kids, and I said - you can ALWAYS tell your parents everything. No one has the right EVER to tell you that you can't tell your parents what happened in your day, what the test was like, who did what - no one ever has a right to say you can't tell your mom something, when you're a kid. So you can tell me.

And the floodgates opened. Because that cabinet question bugged the kid.

So - frankly, can't get worked up about a public interest blogger with a longstanding history of activism on this test sharing a question.

If she was trying to make a profit - eh, might be different. But she's acting in the public interest. And really - is coming after Melissa going to make a big testing conglomerate look like nice team player interested in transparency, free discussion of the value of testing, and accountability ... or even more scary mean out of control money interest?

I thank Melissa for showing the Emperor's clothes.

Signed: Cabinet poster

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with everything that gets posted here by either MW or commenters but I think you just took a HUGE leap of logic there. Have errors been made here now and then? yep. But to suggest that someone would intentionally harm your children because they don't happen to agree with your ideology is beyond extreme.

Commenters sometimes go to far.
Melissa does too on occasion. (Full disclosure - I am not a member of the MW fan club, but value the info/discussion).

Take a step back - you've brought some good info, made people think. That you have a...well.. "agenda".. is clear. But there is a need for the "other side" you bring to the table.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, do read our posting guidelines and give yourself a name so I don't have to keep deleting your posts.

Again, this posted "activity" may be linked to a test question but it is NOT itself a test question. There are no 4-page long questions that students get to work together on using paper and pencil on the SBAC.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And someone did remind me, I forgot to tweet this. Thank you for that reminder.

Anonymous said...

And as for the content - wow, that first page of the link, with the completely crap statement that: "when scientists create ways to grow crops more efficiently, it has a positive impact on food costs." Wow. That's a little bit over simplified for 10th or 11th grade discussion, isn't it?

(And the earthquake zone thing? BIZARRO. I could say the same thing about tornado alley, I guess, but that doesn't make it true!)

Signed: Cabinet poster

Po3 said...


In all my years as a public school parent I have never seen such massive boycotts and protests over a test, across this country.

Give some thought as to why teachers, students and parents are rejecting SBAC/PARCC and maybe you won't be so quick to scold us for daylighting issues surrounding this test.

And we all know by now it's an 11th grade ELA test given to 10th graders as a grad requirement. So you can save some keystrokes making that point over and over.

Missing Link said...

The bigger question is who is auditing these questions on the standardized test for validity and appropriateness. Are we to trust the testing companies and SBAC/PARCC blindly?

Robert Cruickshank said...

swk, what you have here are parents like myself who are very deeply worried that the policies you support are taking away the chance for our children to get a good education.

And when we point out flawed curriculum, bad assignments, and ridiculous tests, your response is to dismiss the concerns. Never once have you or your corporate education reform allies taken these objections seriously. Instead you respond in this case by attacking Melissa.

This focus on data and testing is destroying our children's future. There is nothing more important to a parent than the well-being of our children. These education reform policies threaten that. And so yes, we are going to fight back with everything we have - especially when reasonable concerns are ignored or dismissed or attacked.

The stakes here could not possibly be higher. And we parents cannot afford to lose.

Anonymous said...

This will be my last post.

Melissa, I'm really sorry for questioning your integrity. I apologize for my hyperbolic overreach. I hope you accept my apology.

But just to be clear, what you've posted is called 'secure material' from the SBAC assessment. Someone who had access to this Classroom Activity signed a document assuring that she/he would uphold test security. That person breached the test by copying the CA and sending it to you. It's not the actual Performance Task question but it's part of the test. In other words, you've posted secure material from the state test.

Robert, Po3, et al have made it clear that they are willing to engage in this behavior and will likely do it again. And from your defense of this action, you're also in agreement with this strategy.

I can't condone this action and can't thus validate it by my continued participation on this blog. And besides, my own anxiety around this blog led me to unjustly attack Melissa. It's probably best for all concerned if I simply bow out.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

What @Robert Cruickshank said. All of it.

North End Parent

seattle citizen said...

swk - As informed as you are about the SBA, I'm quite surprised that you call the posted document a "test question." It is obviously a Classroom Activity (on science! to be enacted in ELA classes!) in preparation for the Performance Task. It is NOT a secure "test question"; that would be the performance task.
So you reference to it as a test question is merely an obvious attempt to discredit MW, accuse her of !!!breeching confidentiality!!!
Is classroom instruction (Classroom Activity) now confidential, as well as actual testing? Shhhhh....No one must know what we are doing to children.

Anonymous said...

I have found videos on Youtube by searching sbac performance task. It appears these discussions take place on the first day so students have the same background knowledge, and the next day are presented with a task to solve that relates to the info. The one I watched had to do with a zipline and the facilitator made sure the students had the right vocabulary(fulcrum) and concept (the beginning point must be higher than the ending point).

-hs parent

Anonymous said...

Finally some actual civil-disobedience. Now you are at risk for some legal action by the SBAC.
Not a fire hose or dog or beating, but some real consequences. I personally admire your bravery for posting the illegally obtained material. It's like you're Dan Ellsberg, almost.


Anonymous said...

I will miss @swk's input, and agree with his stance on the breach. The Classroom Activity is what you do with the Performance Task Materials. The testing manual explicitly states copying and sharing of performance task materials is a violation of test security.

Discussing test items with your child is a gray area, as they are under 18 and can't be held to the confidentiality agreement as would a teacher or other adult.

I think you're wrong on this one, MW.

A breach can result in invalidation of test results, as students are still taking the tests. If I were a 10th grader taking this as part of a graduation requirement, I'd sure as H**L wouldn't have to retake this inane test because results were invalidated.


Josh Hayes said...

I'll pitch in as a teacher here: if someone gave me this as a lesson plan I would discard nearly all of it and start over. It's dreadful, and if someone felt that taking students from scratch and giving them this blitz of ecosystems ecology laid the groundwork for them to tackle a test question on ecosystem ecology, that person is on drugs.

A unit that provides students adequate - and no MORE than adequate - background here would run at least a week. Now, if the intent is to take students who already have solid background in systems ecology and remind them of a few terms before testing them on something, this stuff STILL sucks, because it will sow confusion: students will start to think that humans can grow earthquakes and such. The problem here is that any conceivable assessment based on this material either assumes instruction not in evidence, or will perforce be based on absurdly thin, misleading, and poorly written instruction.

In my opinion, of course. I am but one teacher.

Anonymous said...

Following on swk's point (that somehow, all these test activities, questions -- whatever-- are highly secret and cannot be divulged), I am really troubled by the amount of secrecy. The idea that people are not supposed to know actual test questions in advance doesn't bother me, of course. Everyone (SAT, PSAT, MSRP, etc.) has an interest in not having kids/teachers/parents "pre-know" the actual test questions.

But is ALL prior assessments (other than MAP, maybe), there has always been an ability to get one's hands on SOME stuff (practice tests, questions from past exams, etc) though it hasn't always been great (my recollection is that the bad WASL had some of these issues -- my understanding is that because they didn't want to go to the time or expense of coming up with new questions, they were hoping to sort of keep stuff out of circulation so they could use it over and over).

But nothing has ever approached the (almost paranoic) emphasis on secrecy, data ownership, etc. of the CC tests. It strikes me as more than the WASL problem (don't disclose so they don't have to come up with new questions). It seems more designed to make sure that since the tests are being used to denigrate public schools and degrade confidence in public school teachers and school districts -- no one can actually determine whether their is any validity to the tests.

My own state reps are horribly compromised in matters of ed reform (Pettigrew and Tomiko Santos), but I would love to see legislation to the effect that the state will not use any of these tests if there is not sufficient transparency for school administrators, teachers, and parents to review the tests for validity and appropriateness. If that also means that they move away from tests that give different kids different questions -- that would be fine with me too. (Frankly, it would be fine with me to stop the tests period, and go back to something like ITBS testing 2 or 3 times in a child's school years, plus whatever the state comes up with (EOCs, etc.) for specific state standards.

But if tests are given, there needs to be an ability to discuss the questions (afterwards), see examples of questions (before), and audit whether questions that are bad (the stuff that so many kids fail that it gets removed from the test -- which is what happens with SATs, state Law Board examinations, etc.


Anonymous said...

Classroom activities are not secure materials. Anyone can look at them. Melissa isn't going to SBAC Jail.

An administrator

Melissa Westbrook said...

You believe that I did something illegal? Well, I await SBAC lawyers.

One thing - bloggers are considered media and I have credibility as media in this town (and can prove it). Reporters (and I am a citizen reporter) get information all the time and I get to protect my sources (and I absolutely will).

I'm no Daniel Ellsberg or Edward Snowden but yes, I'm going to stand up for the First Amendment.

Anonymous said...

If "media in this town" means the education reporting in the ST, Melissa -- you are WAY better (and WAY more credible) -- and that with none of the reporting and investigative resources that ST has (but evidently doesn't care to use, at least on ed matters).


Anonymous said...


"The classroom activities are nonsecure."

At the bottom of the same page it also mentions that the classroom activity can be recorded for later viewing.

I think Melissa will be just fine. :)


seattle citizen said...

So swk was claiming that Classroom Activities are secure to malign intent and ominous, threatening foreboding merely to attempt to discredit Melissa? Or is swk so enmeshed in the Test culture that he actually believes that everything should be secure, eyes-only, available only to the Test Company, the Bureaucratic Data Managers, their Edu-Business CEO'S and Arne Duncan?
Or maybe swk just didn't know and either erred, or made something up, to bolster his authoratituve-sounding arguments about the Test.

Anonymous said...

Pearson put out these tests before bothering to figure their own security safeguards. Instead, they count on fear and intimidation for compliance, while they struggle to catch up with technology and protocols.

As long as this is not an opt-in by choice test, like the SAT, Pearson realizes they don't have the legal protections against sharing, etc.
A mandated public school test given to all students (who don't opt out) is much less binding than opt-in test.

"Hence" the Stasi-like mentality about enforcement. Pearson keeps making billions only as long as the public buys into this security charade.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I don't see the PT as confusing or difficult, especially for 10 and 11th graders.

Granted it neglects marine trench ecosystems that do not use the sun for energy, but otherwise it's similar to MSP science tests.

I don't see the point in releasing this info. It is not intended to be studied, is not a practice item, it is proprietary and could be used to prep students. It will be used by some parents, I'm sure. It invalidates the test, possibly requiring even more testing and is just plain bad manners.

Never was a big fan of the "boycott", it's a silly middle class temper tantrum that usually devolves into "why don't the kids in private school have to take it".

The idea is to help find schools and districts that are robbing young people of a chance in life. It's really not about the folks who already have their piece of the pie.


Anonymous said...


It's good to know that Pearson is looking out for the best interests of the kids and preventing them from being "robbed of a chance in life." What do you base this on?

I think this is about a giant multi-national corporation trying to ensure that their massive profits keep coming in by giving a poorly tested "assessment" that they bully kids (and teachers) into keeping secret. The secrecy is great for them because it makes it take longer for people to see just how awful this test is.

I am sorry that you see parents being interested in their child's education as a "middle class temper tantrum." I guess you just go along with whatever anyone tells you is the "right" thing to do.

-Question Authority

Scrawny Kayaker said...

"The idea that people are not supposed to know actual test questions in advance doesn't bother me, of course."

Test confidentiality is not even really a critical problem. Federal Aviation Administration pilot's license written tests are documents covered by FOIA. Their solution is to have hundreds (back when I took the test) and now thousands of questions in the bank, of which you get a small number on the test you take.

It's easier just to learn the material than to try to memorize all the questions.

Anonymous said...

So what does SBAC do for those students who have not achieved the minimum academics that are required to succeed? What benefits do they get? Remediation,course retrieval, longer school day, 5th year of high school, SDI?

My objection is that SBAC does not solve any problem. It just takes funds away from real solutions like fully staffing special education with highly qualified teachers that can give push-in SDI in gen ed classrooms. Do we need to spend money on the SBAC to tell us that is not happening?

-Opt-out Parent

Anonymous said...

Uh, Melissa does not have a contractual relationship with a testing company.

The test stuff - not an NSA secret, got that?

There is no corporate "top secret" criminal law that anyone violates and can be charged with.

So if Melissa had a contractual arrangement with a test company, and she violated it, they could sue her for breach of contract - the damages therefrom (NONE).

But, can't see that.

So - criminal case? Not against Melissa, b/c she's got a strong journalist defense - and I think maybe she's already been that route.

So breach against whatever teacher originally posted it?

SBAC - more bad PR - just what they need.

Let's not elevate corporate over-reach, quite likely unenforceable against the tens of thousands of teachers in this country b/c it is completely contrary to their union employment contracts (THANK YOU UNIONS FOR PROTECTING OUR TEACHERS FROM BEING FIRED by companies that aren't even their employers!!!) to some final word on high. It's not.

If they can't stand the daylight, they should go back to the coffin.

-- Test Vampire

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Never was a big fan of the "boycott", it's a silly middle class temper tantrum that usually devolves into "why don't the kids in private school have to take it"."

Please tell me where one person at this blog used that argument. Because I certainly didn't and I don't recall it here.

And this:

"The idea is to help find schools and districts that are robbing young people of a chance in life. It's really not about the folks who already have their piece of the pie."

Right out the ed reform playbook. No one is robbing anyone of an education and fyi, the reason this blog exists is precisely because many parents do not believe in the pie being presented to them.

Test Vampire, that last line? Thank you for the laugh of the day.

Anonymous said...

If a Language Arts teacher serves as the facilitator for this particular test, then will he/she being evaluated on how well he/she is able to teach Science?

Since there isn't an SBAC test for Science, then will the Science teachers at the school being evaluated for how well the LA teacher teaches this particular classroom "activity?"

Kids are exposed to these concepts beginning in about the 4th grade, and I've seen similar 5th grade Science MSP sample questions, but some kids may not have thought much about this stuff for several years prior to this mini Science lesson/review (or whatever it is supposed to be), and it seems ridiculous to expect an LA teacher (or even worse, a facilitator that isn't a teacher) to teach a condensed Science lesson as part of SBA assessment of ELA skills.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Whoa MW,

No kids in America are getting robbed of a decent education?

However misguide or implemented, that is precisely the rationale behind NCLB. And, yes there are thousands of students in SPS who are not served well, not prepared, left behind, socially promoted, who dropped out because the system failed them. And we have a pretty darn good district.

Nationally it's disgracful what happens to the underclass kids and if CC tests can make a dent in the problem, I'm all for it.

I think any casual reader of this web log remembers the griping about "Gates's kids don't have to take it".
Come on, try to remember.

Now that swk had to leave because of your leaking of test info, the one reasonable and informed voice on testing is gone.

And now I'm using the "playbook"?

Whatever, I need to go cash my checks from Bill Gates, Pearson, Smarter Balanced, etc. I really like the status quo of a permanent underclass in America, I'm only posting for the money!!!


Anonymous said...

@ pdq, how exactly do you think CC tests will make a dent in the problem? Do you think these new tests are going to tell us anything we didn't already know--that at a lots of kids aren't graduating with the skills they need to succeed? These tests don't help. They just get in the way.


seattle citizen said...

pdq - A) it's not secure test info. Read HIMSmom's link. SBAC itself says it's not secured. Enough with a tired and disproven canard. B) swk HAD to leave because MW posted (purportedly) secure materials?! Why? Let's review: "I can't condone this action and thus can't validate it by my continued participation on this blog."
What?! Disagree with an action of the blogmeister, so you might "validate it" by sticking around? Hmmm.....

Josh Hayes said...

North-End Mom wonders:

"Since there isn't an SBAC test for Science, then will the Science teachers at the school being evaluated for how well the LA teacher teaches this particular classroom 'activity?'"

That's a great question - what I have been told is that there WILL be an SBAC science test coming down the pike. Until then, I suppose our kids will continue to take the physical science and biology EOC exams (though I have also heard rumors that OSPI is thinking about doing away with the Bio EOC graduation requirement; just a rumor, so who knows?). The activity materials cited here are clearly from the Biology bailiwick and would be covered in the last weeks leading up to the EOC exam (at Roosevelt, for instance, community and ecosystem processes are being covered this week and next, leading up to the EOC early in June). The schedule could well be different in other schools, but the district-wide Bio wiki provides such excellent support that it's hard to see why anyone would shuffle topics around.

Let me just reiterate something I've said before: teachers have ALWAYS taught to standards. Topics students are expected to master have not changed dramatically in biology in the last ten years (I think a more urgent emphasis on impacts of climate change is justified, but the 1990's era federal standards, of course, don't even talk about it). I think having a comprehensive test to check on coverage of basic concepts is a fine idea, and I don't object to the EOC. If the SBAC equivalent is similarly time-efficient (taking a single morning), and some practice materials are provided beforehand, it seems like a "been there, done that" situation. I don't think secrecy is a good idea on test approaches in general, however - in the EOC, for instance, there are some peculiar ways of asking questions that are easy to deal with if they don't come as a surprise. The same is probably true of the future SBAC test.

(Ooh! The ice cream captcha!)

Anonymous said...

I think folks on this blog are not against all testing. They are against endless testing that takes away from other resources that could support students better. Improved curricula, counseling, physical ed, arts education....and so on. How much money do these tests cost and what are we sacrificing to provide it?

My sons graduated from college several years ago. The relationships they had with their teachers are what they remember more than their test results.

I will not miss swk on this blog. He seemed like a know it all but he missed everything.

S parent

nerdbird said...

As a science teacher, this "activity" made me cringe. Some of the information is outright incorrect e.g. "Consumers cannot make their own energy like producers can..." Um, no. Producers like plants can transform energy but they can't create energy any more than animals can.

The task implies that sunlight isn't energy ("Producers convert sunlight into energy..). It also seems to conflate energy and matter, a common misconception that we spend a lot of time breaking down and correcting. The diagram is bizarre. What do the connecting lines even represent?

I realize that this isn't a science assessment, and I may be being pedantic, but bad info is bad info. This thing manages to be overly simplistic, at least partially wrong, and utterly confusing all at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Neither SWK nor pdq have said how SBAC catches kids up to standard. Or why it is worth spending money on SBAC instead of on longer school days or remediation classes for students who are struggling.

-Opt-out Parent

Anonymous said...

CC testing identifies the problem schools and districts and NCLB dictates remediation.

Is this rocket science? Even George W. Bush figured this out and he believed in WMDs in Iraq.

Just digging a hole and putting you head in it does not help those in need. I get it, parents on this venue don't need to know how their kids are doing in school; yes, they will go to college, they will graduate from college, they will follow their parents into the middle classes. Their's is not the child in NCLB that will be left behind. This program is for other kids, the ones who end up on the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson with no skills, no way to survive except petty crime and drug dealing.

Whose got a better plan for them?

waiting (still)

Eric B said...

"Nationally it's disgracful what happens to the underclass kids and if CC tests can make a dent in the problem, I'm all for it."

It absolutely is a disgrace. What does CC do about it? Does CC give kids shoes or breakfast? Does it give them a roof over their heads? Does it give parents a job? Will it make state legislatures actually fund public education?

Because until you address those issues, you won't address the problem of poor students being left behind. Virtually every public school in America has been labeled as a failing school. Has that helped? Will calling some schools bigger failures help? I can't imagine how.

We already know where the problems are. The issue is that schools are trying to fix a problem in the classroom when its roots are throughout the society.

Anonymous said...

S parent is right. I am not against "all testing." I am against:

-- excessive testing (multiple hours, multiple days, every year or multiple times a year);

-- bad tests (poor drafting; questions that don't accurately test knowledge (because they are wrong, or are intentionally tricky, etc.)

-- tests that are intentially misused (when a test states that it should not be used as a "high stakes" evaluation of single students, but instead is to be used to generally inform educators as to the success (vel non) of their teaching practices and strategies) or tests being used to identify gifted children that are not accurate or fair for that purpose;

-- tests designed to drive political solutions rather than educational ones (including tests where the pass/fail rates are manipulated to be too hard, or too easy, to score political points, etc.

-- tests that assume a base of neurotypical behavior, but are then administered to children with entirely different neuro profiles, so that the tests are invalid (this can apply both to learning differences AND to socio-economic or language differences that render a score of X invalid as compared to other children with the same score);

and finally

-- tests that are used to evaluate the efficacy of teachers when their use for such purpose (at all, much less than "as administered") has been widely discredited.

Right now -- it seems to me that we (or our kids) are being widely subjected to ALL of the above. It needs to stop.


Po3 said...

What if we canned the SBAC and instead used the the money - $24 million this year - to help kids in the classroom?

What would that look like?

This argument that the SBAC will improve student outcome is just not true. Teachers can improve student outcomes if given the support and resources they need and that includes not spending days on testing.

So we are stuck, so stuck...

Melissa Westbrook said...

It has not been proven to me that I leaked test info. I'll wait until someone proves that to me. I'm going with exactly what is printed on the sheets.

If SWK is worried I will out him/her, as I said, I have no time and just don't care.

The phrase I read "robbing young people of a chance in life" which I took to mean their entire life, not education. I don't believe that public carries the burden for a child's entire life. I do agree that public education is definitely flawed and many kids do not get what they need because of where they live.

Waiting Still, you said:

"CC testing identifies the problem schools and districts and NCLB dictates remediation."

No, it tells us two things. Who can take a test and where they live. If you missed it, there was a study showing all you had to do is look at zip codes and you can predictably tell what the test scores are in schools. Why bother with a test when you can have almost the same accuracy?

But you may be more accurate than you know because we seem to be building a system - on purpose - where better off kids get schools that have art and sports while the at-risk kids need to go to military-style charter schools that are heavy on discipline and the 3 Rs and light on everything else.

I don't want that.

Anonymous said...

Eric B,

fix everything and then test to affirm

great plan


Anonymous said...

"I don't believe that public carries the burden for a child's entire life. "

I assume you meant " public education"? because if you did, you're wrong.

Public education is the only thing many, many kids have to get them to a better place. Not kids of parents here, but the underclass.

By your reasoning, why test for groundwater pollution, we know the zip codes where it's a problem. We know radioactive waste is migrating towards the Columbia, so quit drilling test wells, we know about where it is.

There's a cavity somewhere in that tooth, don't take an X-ray doc.

Come on, admit it, you and the rest don't want to know how unfair education is in America anymore than you want to know unfair sped is and hcc is, It's all fine, because it's all fine with you. The problems are being solved, Gates is evil, Duncan is a shill, the govt knows nothing, it's all a conspiracy to make money for test companies.


Anonymous said...

Hey waiting still, I would add biker gangs to Ferguson and Baltimore list. But if you graduate from Harvard and Wharton, you get to loot and get a bonus with nary a national guard or militilarized cop in sight. And not be called thuggish. And live in the right zip code so that with or without SBAC testing, your kids will do better than most. Can you all just pay me the $24 million now?


Anonymous said...

Loopy, public education is FAR from being the only thing. There is never the only thing. For you to be saying this is to simplify and minimize the reality of the underclass you purport to be speaking for. That's a disservice. That's looking to score lazily.

do better

Anonymous said...

At McClure they had 3 weeks of testing. M-Th kids had a 2 hour block in the mornings and afternoons, with a normal lunch/4th period and normal schedule on Fridays. The two hour block was for testing or for study hall. The kids had direct instruction only 4th period and on Fridays, for 3 weeks. This seems extraordinary to me. Did other middle schools have it this way. It worked out as 3 lost weeks. The story was that instruction was "front end loaded", and kids were given packets to work on.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with Do Better, there's some lazy arguing out there.

If you think public education is the only thing that can ever lift kids up, you admit defeat. We're a society and we better have a few cards in the deck, not just one. (If there's only one, heaven help us all.)

Anonymous said...


I have a sped kid. The SBAC is not going to diagnose or evaluate or prescribe in any way that will help my child. In fact my child has already been diagnosed, evaluated & has a prescribed plan for SDI that would make a difference in academic performance were it funded. Taking my kid out of the classroom for the hours of SBAC testing & making school resources unavailable for hours when other students are testing will mean my child learns less & gains nothing from the test results.

SBAC won't even tell us as much as we already know. It won't even tell us if a child failed because of a disability or for some other reason. And even if it did there is no money for remediation. It is not going to finally identify every child with dyslexia or processing disorders or depression or essential tremor & then staff the schools with qualified teachers trained in SDI for those disabilities to close the academic gap. Because if NCLB or CC were going to fund that, it would already be happening for the students who have been evaluated. It is not being funded. Nope, just gonna penalize them & their teachers & schools for their failure & tell them all to work harder. I can't see spending money on that.

There is no point in spending the money on x-raying a tooth when you don't intend to spend the money to have it filled. That only benefits the person selling the x-ray, not the patient.

Opt-out parent

dw said...

@OptOut Parent

There is no point in spending the money on x-raying a tooth when you don't intend to spend the money to have it filled. That only benefits the person selling the x-ray, not the patient.

Thank you, thank you. This is the best short description of what's happening that I've heard. It really makes the point. I only wish others understood that this is the reality, not the fairy tales that certain people tell over and over.

And Jan, great post(s) above, as always.

dw said...

And swk, if you're still reading, unlike some others here, I will miss you if you do indeed leave and never return. I disagree with quite a bit of what underlies your arguments, but you generally keep a good tone, and I definitely appreciate most of the factual information and resources you post.

You were indeed out of line above, but in my book a sincere apology was given, and then we move on. I certainly don't feel like you're condoning or validating anything by your continued presence here. And I really doubt leaving will make anyone think differently about this particular topic, or your positions regarding them.

I do have to wonder about the facts in this instance. There seems to be a good deal of disagreement about what, if any, specific rules were broken.

Regardless, I agree with most folks here that the level of paranoia about test secrecy has gotten out of hand.

Anonymous said...

So our esteemed Congress, when pass rates of 50% are published, will not approve any additional funding for schools?

I thought this would force their hand by showing the glaring inequalities.

Why not pressure the ones who hold the purse-strings? Use the poor scores as a lever to pry out money for kids.

Is that really so far-fetched? Have we become that cynical?


Anonymous said...

So who is going to start the anti-trust suit against Pearson? Not only are they writing the tests and selling the curriculum, they've sold the "National Board Certified" idea to the country, and have taken over Washington's teacher certification as well (ED-TCA for sure and I think PRO-Cert both run through Pearson as of the last couple years). Who decided one company had any right to do all this?
Glad I left Seattle

Anonymous said...

In the immortal words of one of my cousins from down south:

"You can't fatten the pig by weighing it."

That--and exactly that--is what the obsession with testing is attempting to do. Keep weighing the pig and then chastise the farm hand because the pig is not getting fatter.

Never mind that you forgot to actually feed the pig at any point because you were so busy constantly weighing it...

Washington Immigrant

Anonymous said...

Wow. not sure which analogy I like better - the x-ray or the pig - but both are very very apt. Until we fully, adequately and EQUITABLY fund public education there will always be the kids of Baltimore and Ferguson. Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

It's always about the money. Always.


Anonymous said...

Oh, but Reader47, if we just get a shiny new test, people will look at that instead of at the actual problem.

It's much easier to make a new shiny test (esp. a crappy one) then to deal with very difficult problems like poverty. Plus, no one makes any money from dealing with poverty. And no one want the Pearson Execs to have to forego their fancy vacations.


Anonymous said...

At Blaine, the middle schoolers took the SBAC for four days during the same week. The test started after first period (which they made PE) and took the entire rest of the day. Four full days lost. Only a few middle schoolers opted out.

-- Opt Out (captcha was hamburgers)

Anonymous said...

More classroom activities. Math SBAC. So dumb. DUMB!

Math 6 "performance task" - lesson on donuts. They come in boxes of 12. Hmmm. Might be some math there.

Math 7 "performance task" - definition of an amusement park. Definition of roller coaster. Roller coasters have trains with cars. No math there. None.

Math 8 "performance task" - definition of logo's. OK kids. Let's design Logos. No math there. None.

How's that for wasting time? Ridiculous!!!!

Stop the Insanity

Anonymous said...

Follow New York's example and opt out. There's always next year. Remember to opt out of Amplify as well.

-opted out

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop the Insanity, better be careful - they'll sic the SBAC police on you. (And me, too, because I allowed you to write about it.)

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but I just finished reading a book called Liberating Lacey (by Anne Calhoun). The hero is a police officer. The subject matter is NSFW.

And so every time I read "sic the SBAC police" on someone in one of the threads here .... I'm like, "ooooooh."

(By the way, excellent book - most of the conflict b/w the cop hero and wealthy commercial mortgage broker heroine is about socioeconomic class, educational background, privilege, etc, also not unfamiliar territory to regular readers here ... blue collar hero vs white collar self-employed heroine - quite interesting and very well written.)

And if that is the SBAC police, well...

Signed: ooooh