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Subject: A very interesting piece on testing in schools rss

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True Blue Jon
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Saw the link on FB and it was an eye-opener to me (although perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised).

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/23-8

What do you think should be done?
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Snowball
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It happens in science tests too; you are asked a question in plain text, and the people correcting are looking for specific words. If you use another word or a circumlocution, too bad. You've got a point for a word and that's all. I agree vocabulary is an essential part, but not the only one.

It speeds up correction.

What should we do? Get our values straight, man! Education, health, these are the things we should value the most. If society can't provide that, I'd rather be an anarchist too.
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Rich Charters
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Interesting read.

The test needs to be graded appropriately. If someone writes a good answer and
only includes one fact, it should get a good grade. If someone writes crap and includes two facts, it should get a bad grade. Period.

The person grading should be empowered to grade appropriately....regardless of the state's guidelines.

If the teacher thinks she needs to grade in an in-appropriate way, then it is the teacher who has failed, not the students.

However, if the instructions say: "Make sure you include two facts from the reading" then I would support giving a bad grade to an essay with just one fact....but she didn't mention the test instructions in what she wrote.
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fightcitymayor
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If you want accountability in schooling, and if the current method of schooling is desirable (i.e. K-thru-5, then middle, then high school) then privatize the schools.
Otherwise, you'll keep getting an unaccountable central authority teaching to the lowest-common-denominator.
At the very least, encourage charter schools, online schooling, homeschooling, and other outlets that don't damn a student to 13 years of missed opportunities.

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Damian
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On the (sort of) flip side, with computer grading you can compose essays that are entirely nonsensical to humans but get top marks from grading software. Be sure to follow the link to the actual essay.
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fightcitymayor wrote:
If you want accountability in schooling, and if the current method of schooling is desirable (i.e. K-thru-5, then middle, then high school) then privatize the schools.

Oh yeah, because making something private does guarantee a better result.
The invisible hand will make it right!
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Ken
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richcharters wrote:
The person grading should be empowered to grade appropriately....regardless of the state's guidelines.


#1 - you're assuming there's a "person" grading this. Many states design their tests so that computers can score the overwhelming majority of them.

#2 - you're also assuming that when there are people grading these that they've relevant training and expertise. The folks I've run in to that can talk to me about the testing & grading companies tell me that these are basically entry-level jobs with little in the way of expertise required.

Our testing regimen are typically farces.
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Ken
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fightcitymayor wrote:
If you want accountability in schooling, and if the current method of schooling is desirable (i.e. K-thru-5, then middle, then high school) then privatize the schools.


Malarky. I went to nothing but public schools and got an excellent education.

Quote:
Otherwise, you'll keep getting an unaccountable central authority teaching to the lowest-common-denominator.


Or you could do something like establish standards that are meaningful, curriculum that work, and focus authority at the local level where it belongs. You get "LCD" when you try to set an "LCD" through something inane like, oh, testing. And do things like find ways to get parents engaged, offer kids activities & arts, provide both standard and AP classes, etc.

There's lots of reasons education goes south. Privatization won't be one of them unless you're ready to take on other factors.
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Chris White
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fightcitymayor wrote:
If you want accountability in schooling, and if the current method of schooling is desirable (i.e. K-thru-5, then middle, then high school) then privatize the schools.
Otherwise, you'll keep getting an unaccountable central authority teaching to the lowest-common-denominator.
At the very least, encourage charter schools, online schooling, homeschooling, and other outlets that don't damn a student to 13 years of missed opportunities.



On average, charter schools perform no better than public schools, and arguably are even worse: http://shankerblog.org/?p=2404 And most of the ones which do succeed do so largely because of selection bias.

It's touchingly naive to think that "privatization" will actually increase accountability- if anything privatization will only exacerbate these problems. There's big money in testing, and the private companies which are pushing the charter school mantra are the same folks pushing these useless tests.

And public school officials are accountable to the public: that's what Board of Ed elections are for. It's better than having one's primary duty be to your shareholders rather than your students.
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James King
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quozl wrote:
Saw the link on FB and it was an eye-opener to me (although perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised).

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/23-8

What do you think should be done?

When our new regular 10th grade teacher from Viriginia took over for a substitute, she told me she had been appalled that Louisiana didn't have a a curriculum guide with a consensus of knowledge that was to be imparted to 10th-grade students over the school year. At that time, the content of Virginia's curriculum guides were uniform so that all students in the state's public schools would be taught the same thing.

Instead of following the lead of Virgina and others, along came George W. Bush and his infernal do-or-die achievement-test scheme which he'd hatched in Texas that thus far seem to have propagated misleading and erroneous information, especially by those school system which turned out to have been proactively advocating cheating on those tests behind the scenes while otherwise touting their achievement-test results as indicative of the success of their respective school systems.

Having spoken with an older teacher from Texas who chose to retire rather than try to finesse the Texas achievement-test system by teaching to it rather than teaching her own curriculum, I realize why Texas and other states have lost many good older teachers because altogether too much emphasis is put on preparing for and teaching to those damned LEAP tests without regard for actual non-rote learning.

Indeed, Neal Bush, Dubya's own brother, had some things to say about it. Here's the Wikipedia entry that explains it better:

In 1999, [Neal] Bush co-founded Ignite! Learning, an educational software corporation. Bush has said he started Austin-based Ignite! Learning because of his learning difficulties in middle school and those of his son, Pierce. The software uses multiple intelligence methods to provide varying types of content to appeal to multiple learning styles....

In 2002, Neil Bush commended his brother, George, for his efforts on education as President, but he questioned the emphasis on constant testing to keep federal aid coming to public schools: “I share the concerns of many that if our system is driven around assessments, pencil-and-paper tests that test a kid's ability to memorize stuff, I would say that reliance threatens to institutionalize bad teaching practices.”

________________________________________________


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Paul Sauberer
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ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
When our new regular 10th grade teacher from Viriginia took over for a substitute, she told me she had been appalled that Louisiana didn't have a a curriculum guide with a consensus of knowledge that was to be imparted to 10th-grade students over the school year. At that time, the content of Virginia's curriculum guides were uniform so that all students in the state's public schools would be taught the same thing.

Instead of following the lead of Virgina and others, along came George W. Bush and his infernal do-or-die achievement-test scheme which he'd hatched in Texas that thus far seem to have propagated misleading and erroneous information, especially by those school system which turned out to have been proactively advocating cheating on those tests behind the scenes while otherwise touting their achievement-test results as indicative of the success of their respective school systems.


Let me see if I have this straight...

Having a standard curriculum that lays out what should be taught is good.

Having a standard test on that curriculum is bad.

Does that summarize your position?

P.S. The biggest cheating scandal to date was in Atlanta, a city run by Democrats. Does that now make cheating good?
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James King
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Psauberer wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:
When our new regular 10th grade teacher from Viriginia took over for a substitute, she told me she had been appalled that Louisiana didn't have a a curriculum guide with a consensus of knowledge that was to be imparted to 10th-grade students over the school year. At that time, the content of Virginia's curriculum guides were uniform so that all students in the state's public schools would be taught the same thing.

Instead of following the lead of Virgina and others, along came George W. Bush and his infernal do-or-die achievement-test scheme which he'd hatched in Texas that thus far seem to have propagated misleading and erroneous information, especially by those school system which turned out to have been proactively advocating cheating on those tests behind the scenes while otherwise touting their achievement-test results as indicative of the success of their respective school systems.

Let me see if I have this straight...

Having a standard curriculum that lays out what should be taught is good.

Having a standard test on that curriculum is bad.

Does that summarize your position?

Nope, it's not that the standardized test on the curriculum is bad. In fact, I'm for EVERY grade having such a test; however, you cannot put the onus of the matter solely on the shoulders of 4th- and 8th-grade teachers as it is now. Moreover, until a standardized curriculum has been credibly in place for every grade across the state, there's no sense in going forward with standardized tests.

What's more, standardized tests should be properly graded with the intent of determining that students had accrued a specific level of carry-over knowledge from their current-grade curriculum so that they'll be reasonably competent enough to take on the subjects of the next grade.


Psauberer wrote:
[P.S. The biggest cheating scandal to date was in Atlanta, a city run by Democrats. Does that now make cheating good?

On the contrary, since Georgia has been a red state for some time now, you can't expect people to take that incredulous assertion at face value.

 
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fightcitymayor
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traininthedistance wrote:
It's touchingly naive to think that "privatization" will actually increase accountability- if anything privatization will only exacerbate these problems.
Not when people can vote with their vouchers.
Or we can keep circling the same public education toilet bowl.
One might call such an approach... touchingly naive?

traininthedistance wrote:
And public school officials are accountable to the public: that's what Board of Ed elections are for. It's better than having one's primary duty be to your shareholders rather than your students.
I will let Steven Greenhut from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity knock this one outta the park:

Steven Greenhut wrote:
If we were tasked with providing an important service, how would we provide it? If, say, we were asked to create the best-possible chain of restaurants to serve hungry customers, would we buy a huge building, hire scores of extremely well-paid administrators and then impose a tax on local residents to fund the chain? Would we let a board of directors, elected from the community, choose the décor, the menu and the locations?

Would we empower a union to make hiring decisions and allow it to grant tenure to waiters and kitchen help, so that we could not fire them even if they were lazy and incompetent? Would we pay the most money to people who worked there the longest rather than to those who were the best workers?

When customers complained that we served too much meat and not enough pizza, would we shrug and ask them to elect board members who preferred pepperoni to cheeseburgers?

Would we pass laws mandating that people who live in neighborhoods near our restaurants eat there only—allowing them to eat elsewhere if they spend additional money or move to the neighborhood where the restaurant more closely meets their taste? Would we ignore the pleas of people who live near filthy restaurants that serve lousy food just because we live near one that at least keeps a clean kitchen and offers adequate meal choices?

Other observers have made similar analogies, and school officials always claim that schooling somehow is different. But it isn’t.

Instead of tinkering around the edges and endlessly fighting for reforms that offer little hope of transforming the system, we need to redesign it from the ground up. Perhaps we should, in the words of the late reformer Marshall Fritz, “separate school and state” and allow the market to provide schools just as we allow it to provide food and other vital services.

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James King
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fightcitymayor wrote:
traininthedistance wrote:
It's touchingly naive to think that "privatization" will actually increase accountability- if anything privatization will only exacerbate these problems.

Not when people can vote with their vouchers.

Or we can keep circling the same public education toilet bowl.
One might call such an approach... touchingly naive?

Indeed, but only in reverse: Since privatized schools actually wind up costing more in the long run anyway without regard for any guaranteed result in quality of education, they are little more than a political boondoggle in the guise of "reform" in education.

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Rich S
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traininthedistance wrote:
fightcitymayor wrote:
If you want accountability in schooling, and if the current method of schooling is desirable (i.e. K-thru-5, then middle, then high school) then privatize the schools.
Otherwise, you'll keep getting an unaccountable central authority teaching to the lowest-common-denominator.
At the very least, encourage charter schools, online schooling, homeschooling, and other outlets that don't damn a student to 13 years of missed opportunities.



On average, charter schools perform no better than public schools, and arguably are even worse: http://shankerblog.org/?p=2404 And most of the ones which do succeed do so largely because of selection bias.

It's touchingly naive to think that "privatization" will actually increase accountability- if anything privatization will only exacerbate these problems. There's big money in testing, and the private companies which are pushing the charter school mantra are the same folks pushing these useless tests.

And public school officials are accountable to the public: that's what Board of Ed elections are for. It's better than having one's primary duty be to your shareholders rather than your students.


Here in AZ, charter schools receive much less funding than public schools do. Something your report does not account for. Equalize the funding and you will see much better results.

Secondly, the main advantage of charters is school choice. If you live in a bad school district and all you have are public schools well, tough luck. Charters take away that lock and key from your children. Also, if the state were to publish detailed test scores of all charters in a place that is more user friendly, you can bet the good charters would flourish and the bad ones would die. With public schools, bad ones keep on going no matter how rotten they are.

Third, unfortunately, here in AZ, I am seeing "Athletic" charters pop up. These are pretty much sham schools that put most of their emphasis on sports with minimal class time. These schools drive down overall test scores for charters. I do wonder how they get their licences.

Off topic slightly:
http://www.greatschools.org/ to see how good your school is.
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Timothy Adamson
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fightcitymayor wrote:
I will let Steven Greenhut from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity knock this one outta the park:

He has some points there, but some of those problems are not essential to having public schools.

Also, if you look at restaurants, one of the features of "better" restaurants is a higher price. Some of this gets you better food and service. But it also keeps the riff-raff out.

We have public schools because we want to educate everyone. Private schools that have to take everyone aren't quite private. What feature of being private allows them to educate better than public schools could?
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Ken
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Psauberer wrote:
Having a standard test on that curriculum is bad.


Please demonstrate that the standardized tests that are being used actually demonstrate mastering the curriculum. Or the ability to apply said curriculum in context.

Quote:
P.S. The biggest cheating scandal to date was in Atlanta, a city run by Democrats. Does that now make cheating good?


P.P.S. It might be helpful to demonstrate that this had anything whatsoever to do with anything of any consequence to anyone.
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