Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coming Up on Testing Season

From a friend's Facebook page:

Parents, educators: Please read and share:

"I am a third grade teacher. Today I had to give the interim SBA ELA performance task.

 I couldn't believe how hard the test was. I was a fourth-grade teacher for many years and this seemed equally as difficult as the fourth grade test. The directions were confusing, very long, and the tasks expected of the kids demanded organizing and processing parts and pieces in their head. 

Another third grade teacher typed a part of the directions into two readability programs. The directions came out between 6.9 and 8.4 GLE readability. 😣" - Anonymous Third Grade Teacher

37 comments:

Janie B. said...

As a parent I had a similar thought about some of the Common Core language arts skills they wanted my first grader to demonstrate. Some of those paragraph-writing skills seemed crazy advanced to me. And my child qualified for HCC the following year.

It's not just the SBAC. Some things are targeted way too high and some way too low these days. It makes you scratch your head.

Anonymous said...

Vote with your feet. With the legislature not doing their job, this is the year to deny the state and the district our test scores. The fact that the tests are idiotic just make this easier.

testingadvocate said...

I don't really understand this complaint. Isn't the thing that matters on these tests how the student does compared to others, or how they do compared to performance on similarly scaled difficulty tests in other years? So what's the big deal if the test is hard. That means the average score will be lower, but the same students will be at 50 percentile. I went to a very challenging technical university. Our first-year physics tests were so hard that the average score was something like 20/100. But there were always 1-2 kids that scored 90+/100. If the test were easier, those outstanding children would have never been identified. I think some people just want a reason to complain about testing.

Outsider said...

Ya, and you're being unfair to the test company. After they have covered campaign contributions, bribes, and profits, there isn't much money left over to actually write the test materials.

Melissa Westbrook said...

TestingAdvocate, it matters if the material and the direcitons are developmentally inappropriate for the grade level.

Many early learning experts believe that the Common Core tests are developmentally inappropriate for grades 1-3.

Po3 said...

TestingAdvocate, It matters because it causes undue stress on kids to be chained to their desks slogging their way thru a test that is not grade appropriate.

Comparing a college test experience to 3rd grade doesn't even make sense. College is supposed to be hard. It's how students find what they are good at. 3rd grade is about helping students become prepared to be good at something, someday.

Anonymous said...

The SBAC is even developmentally inappropriate for middle schoolers. While it used to be common to wait until 9th grade to teach students how to utilize quotes and other evidence to support a claim/thesis, we are now asking 6th and 7th graders to write analytical essays using textual evidence on high-stakes tests.

Let's rethink

Anonymous said...

testingadvocate, the SBAC tests are not norm-referenced, so that's not how it works. These are criterion-referenced tests, so proficiency (and thus, the score) is based on achieving a specific set of criteria, i.e., content knowledge, and not on comparisons to peers.

I love the argument about developmental appropriateness being based on "I've heard some people say..." Where have we heard that before? I'll not leave you in suspense --- it's POTUS. It's his favorite phrase to use when there's no empirical evidence for his claims.

Po3, SBAC is a 501c3 non-profit organization --- it's prohibited from making campaign contributions, besides the fact that it makes no profits. Sorry to break your false (but favorite) narrative. This information has been shared with you many, many times. And since you continue to make these false statements, let's just assume it's willful and, therefore, lies. A favorite activity of the aforementioned person.

Is anyone else seeing the similarities between the opt-outers/anti-vaxxers and POTUS?

Albert

Anonymous said...

I favor opt-out because of the way I've experienced SPS's "testing season". Yes, it's a whole season. The high-stakes aren't for the kids; the stakes are high for the school. Both my kids missed enormous amounts of actual teaching time as the school "prepared" them to take the test, then scheduled the test and administered it. Coordinating 2-hour windows of by-grade testing in a middle school schedule, where you have 50-minute classes of mixed grades in electives and PE, must be really difficult. One year my child spent 3 weeks in "study hall". Seriously. Even in elementary, my daughter missed about a week and-a-half of actual instruction. While they send missives home to parents to ensure their kids get sleep and eat breakfast, the school had a yoga time to help the kids relax, snacks at school, and pep assemblies---this is what put the pressure on the kids. All so the school can get a passing grade. It's insanely inefficient to do this each and every year. We have both kids in private now and are enjoying getting into a rhythm of learning that is uninterrupted by "testing season".

Opting out is resistance to this idiocy. But only works if a critical mass refuses to take the tests.

Outer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Folks, whatever your unhappiness with the school system, opting out is a viable option to express it.

Myself, I think opting out because you have issues with the whole testing system is the best reason. If parents in our state flexed their muscle more on this, you might quite surprised how things would change.

The evidence of experts, not "someone told me", about the developmental inappropriateness of the SBAC is out there for all to read. It's not anything made-up.

Equating opting out with Trump and anti-vaxxers is bizarre but there you are.

Po3 said...

Huh Albert? I didn't say anything like this

"Po3, SBAC is a 501c3 non-profit organization --- it's prohibited from making campaign contributions, besides the fact that it makes no profits. Sorry to break your false (but favorite) narrative. This information has been shared with you many, many times. And since you continue to make these false statements, let's just assume it's willful and, therefore, lies. A favorite activity of the aforementioned person."


Please refrain from attributing comments I didn't make to me.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Opt out.

I believe in getting kids used to testing--it's a great skill. And I agree about TestingAdvocate's comments on norms. However, I would much rather school time be spent on something that gets kids excited about education and their future.

I volunteer and I'm shocked at how regimented the curriculum is. Very few outside experts are pulled in to talk about their subjects and give kids hands-on experience. The little hands-on they get seems to come from crummy pre-purchased science kit (aka edu-industry money-makers). Imagine if those 3 wks of test prep was instead devoted to experts talking about their jobs and giving kids hands-on experience that inspires them. Kids need inspiration and reasons to achieve. If we want kids to think outside of the box, we need to stop giving them work that only encourages box-thinking. I'd like to see a district-wide opt-out.

Anonymous said...

My bad, Po3. I should have attributed that to Outsider and not you.

I apologize for the error.

Albert

Anonymous said...

Let me be clear: my view that the English Language Arts/Literacy SBAC teeters on the edge of being developmentally inappropriate comes from first-hand experience as a high school teacher for over 10 years. I used to work at an expensive elite private school in Seattle, and the majority of my freshmen struggled with analytical writing ALL YEAR LONG. These were kids who were prepped - often since kindergarten - to be prepared for challenging high school work. It wasn't a matter of laziness, lack of motivation, inability to handle challenging work, etc. Simply put, most high school freshmen are just beginning to make the leap from comprehending/restating/making inferences to being able to actively argue a point using textual evidence for support. Over and over again, they failed to make clear, well-supported arguments. And this was on assignments they were allowed to rework over time, using me as a guide - there was no high-stakes testing at this school. Of course, over time they improved. Their brains continued to develop and they learned how to do the things they needed to do. It takes time, practice, good teaching, and repetition.

I actually support the Common Core. I think the standards are solid. But what some people don't realize is that it is up to each principal/teacher to decide how to apply the standards and check for them. We could be working toward the Common Core standards in SO MANY WAYS, but when the SBAC becomes the main focus of how to measure achievement of these standards, then everything that is taught and tested in the classroom starts to look an awful like the SBAC. That's why the kids end up with extremely regimented writing assignments that literally ask for a certain number of sentences containing evidence, followed by a specific number of sentences containing reasoning, etc. Our kids are going to leave for college with an incredibly mind-numbing, lock-step approach to writing analytically. So yeah, I have a problem with this test and how it is being administered and handled in our district.

It is great to have strong analytical writing be a goal for all students, and to work toward it even in the middle grades, but to expect kids in middle school to deftly craft and support a claim using textual evidence and their own reasoning on a single test without support or revision is truly a bridge too far.

Let's rethink

Outsider said...

Yes, it was me -- one of those conspiracy nuts who thinks vaccines give you cooties and SBAC is a non-profit wrapper around a private company called Amplify.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the "evidence" to which you refer regarding the developmental inappropriateness of the standards comes from a small number of "experts" whose opinions get spread by advocacy groups to give it the impressions that there's consensus on the issue. It's a minority opinion.

And I would agree with you wholeheartedly that parents should opt their children out of testing if they think it's what's best for them. But opting out to #Resist and/or advocate for changes in the education system is a political statement. Get ready to take what comes with politics.

Albert

Anonymous said...

Outsider, Amplify and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have very little, if any, connection. Amplify had two very small contracts, comparatively, in the earliest days of the development of the SBAC formative assessment work.

To say SBAC is a cover for Amplify is, well, a conspiracy theory. But I'm sure you have a graph with circles and arrows...

Albert

Anonymous said...

@ testingadvocate,

If the test directions are way beyond the reading level of the students taking the test, the results are not likely to provide a realistic picture of what students know or not. If the instructions are so complicated that they lose students, the results won't be valid. They won't provide a good measure of whether students meet standard or not.

And the point of these tests is not to identify the small percentage of children who are highly academically gifted, nor are they intended to "weed out" students who aren't high performing, like is often the case with college courses.

DisAPPointed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anyone who wants to see the sources on developmental inappropriateness, just ask. I mean, beyond the educators here who are chiming in.

I'm surprised but I guess some people are new here; I've been involved in the politics of education for a long time and nothing scares me.

Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly concur with the teacher's assessment of the SBAC for third graders. The practice tests I have seen have poorly written test questions in language arts. It is often unclear what the question is or how on earth an eight-year-old should respond. Often, the a, b, c, d multiple choice options are ambiguous or you could successfully make a case for two answers when only one (but which one?) is deemed correct by the testing authority. It takes advanced thinking and processing to sort out what the answer might be in many of these cases or which answer the testers want -- far beyond the capability and comfort of most third graders.

If a reasonably smart adult can't decipher what the test is asking/what the testers want, it seems patently ridiculous to expect that from third graders.

Folks here should try the SBAC practice tests to see for themselves.

NW mom

Anonymous said...

I have many, many problems with testing, but some are just so ridiculous I can't believe they haven's sunk the entire endeavor:

We're in the 3rd week of the second semester. How can these tests give any kind of realistic window into what kids have learned over the course of the year when they have over a third of the year of instruction left when they take the assessments? (and the part of the year with the fewest breaks and longest uninterrupted instructional time) How can we compare scores of kids taking a test in early March with those taking it in late May? Are we so cynical no one believes an extra 2.5 months of instruction matter?

Not a problem for kids in HCC it seems because they're tested on content they were taught 2 years earlier. Once they enter middle school, only 1 year of testing (8th grade, not 6th, 7th or 10th) even reflects content they were taught at the school for which the scores are recorded.

testy testee

Anonymous said...

How do you find a SBAC practice test and why don't we all just opt out?

Get organized

Owler said...

I just got an email saying my kid got selected for NAEP assessment. Anyone else get a note about this and have an opinion about it?(For reference, my child is the anxious perfectionist type and was really stressed by the SBAC last year. If it were the SBAC again, I would opt out.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Now the NAEP is one I would have my child take. It's a valuable test.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Get Organized, the best thing you could do is 1)talk to other parents about this issue. One-on-one is great. Most parents don't realize that yes, you can opt-out. 2) ask your PTA to make this a discussion for a meeting. Parents should be able to openly talk about their concerns and PTA should be able to let parents know what they can and cannot do. 3) Ask your principal where your child will be if you do opt out. They should have an answer.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has taken EOC exams that have been requirements for graduation up to 2018. However, she graduates in 2019. The requirements change so that (as it appears to me) her algebra EOC is useless and she should have taken the Smarter Balanced ELA. We opted out of this exam under heavy pressure from this blog among other things. Now, it appears that was a mistake. Anybody know if my conclusions are correct for high school students graduating in 2019.

I just point this out because although I agree with the foolishness of many of these tests, my daughter is now extremely pissed that she may have to retake the math test that she already passed. Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

-OptOutRisk

Anonymous said...

My concern comes from this site:
http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StateTesting/

We will, of course, check all this out with her counselor but I wonder if anyone else has these concerns for high school students - or am I late to the party somehow?

-OptOutRisk

Anonymous said...

@ OptOutRisk,

Several of us brought the issue up during various opt-out discussions. Opting out is fine for most students, but certain students may need the tests for various reasons.

Here's an old thread that talks about this issue. I'm sorry you missed it at the time. The district didn't do a good job of communicating this info, and the blogs can't reach everyone...

HF

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much - I figured this at been discussed at some length here and I missed it.

-OptOutRisk

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, Melissa. I wasn't threatening you regarding politics, so there's nothing for you to be scared of. All I meant was, once you become a political entity or part of a political movement, you will have to struggle in the muck with the rest of us. Standing as a parent looking out for your own child allows you to stay above the fray; but that's not true of political movements, regardless of how they like to give the appearance that they are "grassroots."

Take Washington's Paramount Duty --- they say they're a grassroots assembly of parents, but they are clearly a political group. They endorse candidates --- although they say they don't, they are partisan --- even though they say they aren't, and they're funded by labor unions --- although they won't release their funders' list. They think they're above it all but they're rolling around in it just like every other lobbying group. In other words, they're not just a bunch of parents advocating for their kids. They're lobbying to change public policy to move the education system as well as our state's tax system and they're using political tactics just like the WEA, LEV, et al. That's not grassroots.

Albert

Anonymous said...

"a small number of "experts"" - I did not know that 500 people is a "small number": https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/?utm_term=.211e3c0b2042

As to grassroots organizations, pretty much every education advocacy group in the state is funded by billionaires and megacorporations with the express purpose of keeping their taxes low and selling off schools so that said billionaires and megacorporations can make more money. If there are some advocacy groups that get funded by parents and teachers, more power to them - maybe it can help balance things out.

George

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

Albert is a troll with nothing substantive to offer a discussion on education. I move that he be "moderated".

Anyone for a second?

-StandUpAgainstDrivel

Melissa Westbrook said...

Albert, I didn't say you were threatening me about politics so that's an odd choice of wording. I've been involved in the politics of public education for a long time so yes, I understand how ugly it can get.

And you are totally off-base with your allegations about Washington's Paramount Duty (and you can't even prove some of them so they are just speculation on your part).

But we WILL be ending this type of discussion on this thread because this thread is about testing and opting out and you lead the discussion off-topic. Mind the gap and please don't do it again.

Also, I do not allow links to entities that print falsehoods and make threats.

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

If you want a thread on WPD, ask. Do not hijack other threads.