Town Hall Presents Talk on Standardized Testing

From Town Hall:
Seattle’s recently-passed universal pre-k measure included a stipulation of standardized testing, but according to NPR’s Anya Kamenetz (Generation Debt), today’s schools are sacrificing learning by enacting such regulations.
The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be is her insightful look at the world of standardized testing in the era of No Child Left Behind, increased college expectations, and overachievers. She’ll outline the pressures these tests place on students, their families, and school districts, ultimately offering a wake up call for educators–and parents–to move beyond numbers, and refocus on the child. Kamenetz is the author of several books and NPR’s lead digital education reporter.
7:30PM, Tuesday, January 20, 2015 , Downstairs at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue, $5


Anonymous said…

Did in fact the "pre K" levy contain a 'stipulation' for testing of preschool children?



Did the people of Seattle vote to give the City money to do preschool for a total of 2,000 student years for 4 and 5 year olds BUT ONLY IF THOSE KIDS GET TESTED??? And what if the parents of said 4 year old opts out their child from testing? Are they then booted out of school? Are 4 year olds supposed to know how to operate a mouse?

I realize this is Seattle and many 4 year olds know their way around an iPad or mouse, but, many do not, especially those from impoverished backgrounds. Mine didn't, because I didn't believe as a parent putting my kids in front of a computer was a good parenting choice for my kids. To each their own.

Testing 4 year olds??? These are kids!!!! Babies!!!! Leave them alone!!! Let them paint and sing and play and explore and plant gardens and climb and listen to stories and play dress-up and pretend and imagine and build. Let them be. No standardized tests for preschoolers.

I can't believe this was part of the levy. Please cut & paste the verbiage that required participants to do tests.

-save childhood

Lynn said…
Here's an RFP for a consultant contract to create the Seattle Preschool Program Comprehensive Evaluation Strategy.
Pro-sleep Mom said…
And here's the City's final Preschool Action plan from June 23, 2014:
Check out page 9:
The plan calls for ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure we meet our school readiness, quality, and achievement goals.
☑ A comprehensive evaluation strategy for the program, designed with independent evaluation experts
☑ Ongoing assessments of classroom
quality, which includes making full use of existing assessment
☑ Use of developmentally-appropriate,performance-based assessments
☑ External evaluations of implementation and outcomes

The sound bites were good, but the fine print on this plan is full of issues. Testing is clearly part of the program- I don't know about opting out.
Voted NO1B said…
The city's prek program is P20. This means that children are required to participate in a research project. These students will be studied until they are 20 years old- on the taxpayer's dime.

Obviously, the city did not advertise this little fact during the election. Nor did the city inform voters that the curriculum is essentially Common Core for prek. Do the research. You will find a plethora of information on Prek Common Core.

Those that wish to participate with the City of Seattle's prek program will be required to used a mandated curriculum. When students show sufficient "growth"...these classrooms may receive a curriculum waiver. No, this little fact wasn't promoted during the City of Seattle's Prek program. Tim Burgess promoted prek with the notion of "play based" curriculums.
Anonymous said…
I really wish folks on this blog had any desire to discuss the nuances of what assessment means. Guess what, high quality early learning includes assessment. Assessment means asking a child to sort a set of objects by color and then by size. Assessment means listening to a child's speech for number of words and use of complex sentences. Assessment means looking at a child's gait on the playground. Assessment means asking a child to blend three sounds to make a word. Just like a child is assessed when visiting his or her pediatrician on growth and development, a child can and should be assessed (using developmentally appropriate authentic assessments) in an early learning classroom.

Do you go to your pediatrician and when they ask if your child is communicating in complete sentences or whether they can draw a straight line, angrily say "I want to opt out of this oppressive testing regime"?? When a Montessori teacher keeps a running record of your student, do you chastise them for not letting a kid be a kid?

Also, I'm having trouble understanding why research is inherently bad?

Voted NO1B said…

I see you point. Shall we talk about the research and testing that will follow these prek students into elementary and middle school? Shall we talk about the fact that 12 year old children are taking a total of 10 hours of tests for math and reading at the end of the year? Shall we talk about the amount of assessments our children are being asked to take for state and district level tests? Shall we talk about the fact that city and district databases are being inter-connected? Shall we talk about the fact the city wants MAP tests to assess the Family and Education levy? Yes, tests are assessments.

Sure assessments are fine, but the city has other plans and children are getting tested (same as assessments) wayyy too much
Voted NO1B said…
Assessments also mean having elementary school children take Language Arts assessments/tests on computers. Shall we talk about these nuances?
Puzzled makes a good point but also raises the question - what KIND of assessments?

Burgess consistently said on the campaign trail - despite the wording in the levy - that these would be "classroom" assessments. I pressed him once on whether that mean an entire class is tested or each child. He wouldn't answer.

Is research inherently bad? No, but when it mostly seemed aimed at some kids and not others, I balk. When the parents of those kids tend to be people who are harried single parents or immigrant parents who may not know the ramifications of what they are signing, I balk. I'd lay odds that most parents whose kids are in the Roadmap project have no idea how much data is collected on their kids or who sees it or what it is used for.

Again, what kind of assessments, how many a year, how long, and who has access to that data? Those are valid questions and I'll bet the minute many middle class parents realize how much data collection is happening, they'll say no.
Po3 said…
I think if we see computers coming to these PreK classrooms we can pretty much guess what kind of curriculum and assessments these tots will be subjected to.
NO 1B said…
I strongly agree with Melissa's points.

I will add: Our classrooms have been turned into Education Labs and OUR children are being used as subjects of human experimentation.

Our children deserve proven practices and not to be experimented upon.

Education research is fine, but let's not do it in broad and sweeping manner. Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessments etc. Enough.
dw said…

Those are good questions, but I think you're failing to see some of the real problems, and I'm happy to discuss the nuances.

Yes, assessments have been around forever, and when used properly by good teachers, they not only serve a purpose, but they can be indispensable. I think a few of the anti-testing folks are misguided, thinking that all testing is bad. Teachers need to be able to assess kids to understand what they've learned and retained throughout their class. In subjects where material builds year after year, like math, this is even more critical because if you start falling behind it can be extremely difficult to catch up in subsequent years.

That said, in addition to what others regularly talk about here, there are HUGE problems with the current testing craze because of how, and by whom, data is collected, retained and disbursed. Since the dawn of schools and teachers, tests have been given. But at the end of the day, the student got a grade based on those tests, then they move on. Today it's different. Data miners want access to kids' personal data, and they have a relentless, unrestrained thirst for as much data as possible. This is why the amount of testing has increased in recent years, and why it is becoming more and more computerized, and frankly, the teachers are not necessarily benefiting from all the additional testing.

Here's the worst part: I know for a fact that you do not know where your kids' data is going anymore. Once it leaves Seattle Public Schools data systems, there is little to no real protection on what happens to it and where it gets shared. Some is purposeful (RoadMap and many others), some is accidental (recent leak of 8000 Special Ed students' personal info), but at the end of the day, when all this data is gathered in one place, it becomes problematic, and it becomes a target. Student data systems nationwide are under attack now.

Also, I'm having trouble understanding why research is inherently bad?

Research is great! On bacteria, solar power, bumble bees... NOT on children. Our society grants people the right of informed consent in research, and this is reflected in our legal code. There are huge issues around research ethics, even when recruiting volunteer participants. In our discussions here, we're talking about students, often young children. There is no way they can sign off themselves to volunteer for this kind of research, and let's be honest, most parents have no idea what they're signing off on, when they do sign off. But worst of all, most of this data collection is happening without any kind of explicit parental consent whatsoever! THAT is unconscionable, and is the current MO of many educational service providers right now. THAT is the discussion that needs to happen. Do you have any idea how many non-SPS organizations are in possession of your kids' data right now? (hint: no, you really don't)

The danger is that there is no way to know how or when this data will be used in the future. Without explicit, monitorable and enforceable data-anonymizing and destruction contracts, "future" essentially means "forever". Over time, as more and more data is accumulated, and as more time passes, and as more access is granted to said data, the odds of it being misused or abused approaches 100%.

Right now we're living in the Wild West era of data collection and analysis. Virtually no laws, no understanding, no compliance, no enforcement, no penalties. People need to educate themselves about the issues and concerns, and then help to educate others. There is no other way this will ever get brought under control.
NO !B said…
dw is 100% correct and I share his concerns. Except I'm not misguided and I realize the importance of assessments.

Our children are being used for educational research. Let's take a look at 11th graders that are taking AP exams, college entrance exams, class exams etc. Now, there is discussion that 11th graders will be asked to take SBA in addition to other tests and SBA is not needed for graduation.

The city's program is academic and there is a push to get children reading earlier and earlier. I've seen it and it isn't pretty.
Anonymous said…

Authentic assessment is good..

I realize this is a year of transition re testing.
I have a few questions about the alphabet soup:
Which high school students are required to take the SBAC?
If an 11th grader has already taken and passed the HSPE (still WASL in my mind), does she still have to take the SBAC?
If a student is taking any tests (A.P., etc) that exempt her from taking the SBAC, will the school administration still make her take the SBAC for the purpose of data?

When will it actually count?

--OldSchool Music
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