Testing - Some Analogies

Why I love my readers?  They say the smartest (and darnest) things (about over testing):

Washington Immigrant :

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...

Opt-Out Parent:

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.

Test Vampire:

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


Anonymous said…
Despite my revulsion at eating pigs, I'll mention that the "pig", (would that be students?) are being fed, i.e. there are schools. The question is whether the food is the correct food, is it nutritious, are some "pigs" not gaining weight as they should.

Same with the dental work, we have lots of dentists(teachers), but are they aware of exactly where the cavity is and the best way to fix it? An x-ray shows if a filling is needed, a root canal, maybe just some topical fluoride.

Anonymous said…
We don't x-ray everyone, Clive. It's dangerous and done only after a professionally trained dentist determines that it's necessary.

If only we entrusted teachers with a similar level of discretion and respect, instead of how we usurp their authority and mistreat them under the SBAC regime.

Imagine a world where our politicians forced our dentists to expose every patient to potentially dangerous & wasteful radiation, so we can call it equitable and see, just for the heck of it, if anything shows up that we haven't already discovered.

Anonymous said…
There is a student in my school who missed 9 hours of instruction in February due to End-of-Course Exam makeups (taking them). They missed another 9 hours of instruction in March due to HSPE makeups (taking them). They're missing 12 hours of instruction this week due to SBA testing (not taking them--not eligible as a 12th grader). They will miss another 9 hours of instruction in two weeks due to End-of-Course exams (taking them--again).

Total that up and you get 39 hours of missed instruction. That's nearly an entire quarter's worth of class time (for a single class) missed due to testing.

If a student is missing that much time being "weighed", they are not being "fed" during that time. Removing a student who is already behind from the opportunity to receive that much instruction is not a sensible way to "close the opportunity gap." Logically, it is more consistent to say that removing a student who is already behind from the opportunity to receive that much instruction WIDENS the "opportunity gap."

Perhaps I should have phrased more subtly. It's not that the farmer forgot to feed the pig, its that the farm hand can't feed the pig while he's weighing it, and the farmer keeps telling him to weigh it far too frequently.

Washington Immigrant.
mirmac1 said…
Well said WSDWG
Anonymous said…
As a dentist, almost everyone gets a basic set of radiographs because without that I can not determine who is at risk or not. Based on that initial set I then prescribe more depending on risk factors. By law required to make a diagnosis, but people are not required to have treatment.

Using that analogy, you are advocating for a baseline testing, a treatment plan for every student and then periodic testing based on need.

-Dr C
Chris S. said…
Dr. C - but only for those who can pay for it.
Anonymous said…
Baseline testing is about 2 hrs of math testing, about 2 hrs of reading testing, done in maybe October so the teacher has time to get results and then tailor what a student needs.

It is NOT 3 math amplify tests, 3 language arts amplify tests, practice SBACs and prep, and minimum 4 full days of SBAC, all in addition to all the regular coursework tests. That is not "a diagnostic X-ray".

Really - doesn't giving a kid the unit math tests/quizzes tell a teacher what the kids actually know? Get a 98, get a 75, get a 43, whatever, on the unit - teacher has a good idea where the kids are. So I don't understand why all these assessments are needed - the curriculum tests should be pretty sufficient in math for the teacher's use. And the district/state - do they need more than one brief one? What more does anyone learn between a two hour pencil and paper bubble test and a multi-day incredibly expensive computerized test? What's the delta of result that justifies the increased monetary and opportunity costs?

Signed: cupboard poster
Anonymous said…
What cupboard poster said.

Anonymous said…
Anyone catch this test mass uprising article? Opt Out Becomes Anti-Test Rallying Cry in NY State.


Patrick said…
The dental X-ray analogy is not so great because dental X-rays are actually pretty good at showing cavities or some other problems, and the treatment for those problems is well-understood. The standardized tests don't reveal enough information to diagnose or treat a student who is behind.
Anonymous said…
Washington Immigrant for the win!

Perfectly articulated point, completely missed by the proponents of Standardized Testing. It's the missed-instructional time, stupid!

Meanwhile, the Anti-Union, Anti-Teacher Seattle Times laments, pisses and moans about the lost time to a one day strike. Classic.

Cupboard poster, I've often wondered what happened to in-class quizzes. That was what we did when I was in school back in the Stone Age.

Oh wait, that means you would have to believe in the teacher's ability to assess students.
Anonymous said…
Cupboard poster asked: "What's the delta of result that justifies the increased monetary and opportunity costs?"

Oh -- the delta is there all right. We are just looking at the wrong spreadsheets. The delta is on very different "charts" -- of data gleaned for data collection/analysis/sales companies, and the bottom lines of the companies that sell the faux research, build and administer the tests, and develop and sell the test prep and remediation materials. They are desperate to keep us focused on the student achievement data, so we aren't paying attention to the needles that they are REALLY trying to move.


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