Schools developing art, gym, music tests to judge teachers. – C. Binkley

Binkley, Colin.  “School developing art, gym, music, tests to judge teachers.” Columbus Dispatch.  August 24, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/08/24/schools-developing-art-gym-music-tests-to-judge-teachers.html

The article explains how districts are needing to make more tests, many of which are given the first week of school, so that teachers can be judged.  Teachers have complained the additional testing is unnecessary, does not help students, and is taking away from creative lessons the joy of learning.

In Olentangy schools, all third-grade students took an art test last week to chart what they know now. They answered questions about the principles of art, analyzed a piece of work and were given a drawing prompt.

Some teachers fear that, with so many types of tests, the system won’t grade all teachers equally. “Good or bad, it’s not the same,” said Johnson, of Columbus schools. “I’m sure that they don’t feel that it’s fair,” she said of teachers.

Poll: Most Americans sick of high-stakes standardized tests. – V. Strauss

Strauss, Valarie.  “Poll: Most Americans sick of high-stakes standardized tests.”  Washington Post.  August 21, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/21/poll-most-americans-sick-of-high-stakes-standardized-tests/

The author reports the results of the 45th Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup education poll which showed that fewer than 25% of the public believe testing has improved schools, 58% think tests scores to evaluate teachers are wrong, 66% have never even heard of common core, 70% trust teachers, and 70% oppose school vouchers.

Some of the result are in conflict with an AP and Education Next Poll and the authors response is:

Perhaps the answers lies in the way the question was worded:

32. As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math. If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state’s schools accountable for their performance. Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?

Seriously, who would answer ‘no’ to that?

It isn’t easy for people who are not familiar with polling methodology — which includes me and nearly everybody else on the planet — to understand the difference between polls that have some real validity and those that don’t. The bottom line is to be very careful about competing claims from this and that poll. They aren’t all alike.

Why international tests are wrong. – M. Stansbury

Standsbury, Meris. “Why international tests are wrong.”  eSchool News. March 2013.  Retrieved from: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2013/01/16/report-international-tests-severely-misrank-u-s-students/

The EPI report on the PISA scores which are used to rank countries shows that the scores are skewed and the United States is actually doing much better than the media reports.

The truth, says the report, is that—when comparing apples to apples in weighing U.S. student performance against that of other industrialized countries—U.S. students don’t rank 25th in math, but 10th; and in reading, the country is not 14th, but 4th.

Is School Reform Making America Less Competitive? – D. Bernstein

Bernstein, David. “Is School Reform Making America Less Competitive?”  February 6, 2013. Via The Answer Sheet.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/06/is-school-reform-making-america-less-competitive/

The author writes about the problems he has seen in schools but rejects that because there are some major issues in some urban schools (caused by poverty) reforms that are being imposed on successful districts are not only unneeded, but are also harming our students.

One history teacher commented: “I would love to do more projects and allow students to investigate ideas on their own. Unfortunately I have a district mandated curriculum and students take a test at the end of the year on that information. If I miss too many facts or slow down too much to allow them to do these projects then they may fail the test. I am judged on how well they do on this one test not on how well they think.”

The biggest testing scandal of all. – D. Ravitch

Ravitch, Diane.  “The biggest testing scandal of all.”  Blog.  January 29, 2013.  Retrieved from: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/29/the-biggest-testing-scandal-of-all/

Dr. Ravitch reports that the Pearson, the testing company, has a contract worth $500 Million with the state of Texas.  Pearson then advertises on Craigslist looking for temp help to grade the high stakes tests.

So Texas spends nearly $500 million to hire an army of low-wage temps to make fateful decisions about the future of students, teachers, and schools. And of course it is not just Texas. It is every other state in the nation.

Why trust the judgment of a fallible teacher or principal, when you can rely on the judgment of a $12 an hour temp, supervised by a Target manager?

This is crazy.

Pop Quiz on Standardized Testing. – L. Guisbond

Guisbond, Lisa.  “Pop Quiz on Standardized Testing.” Washington Post.  January 16, 2013.  Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/16/pop-quiz-on-standardized-testing/

The author, from the non-profit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, put together a six question quiz about the (over) use of standardized tests.

1. What reasons did Garfield High School teachers give for boycotting the Measure of Academic Progress tests?

2. Why did award-winning Florida second-grade teacher Kim Cook (voted teacher of the year by her peers) receive an “unsatisfactory” evaluation that put her job in jeopardy?

Less Testing, More Learning. – K. Griffin

I sent the following letter into the Dublin Villager in response to an article they published on new tests in DCS.

I write this in response to the December 5 article titled “New Graduation Tests Don’t Worry Educators.”  The Dublin City School District has a strong background of providing an outstanding education to our students.  Our ratings of “Excellent with Distinction”, Blue Ribbon Schools, nationally ranked high schools, and number of students receiving awards and scholarships are proof that the Dublin City School District is one of the best in the country.

To be clear, teachers are not concerned about how Dublin students will perform on the new tests.  We know they will be prepared and we know they will perform well.  However these corporate created tests assume all children learn and think exactly the same way.  High-stakes tests, which can prevent students from advancing, are also are being used to evaluate teachers and are all but forcing teachers to teach to the test.

Instead of emphasizing one-size-fits-all bubblesheet tests our legislators should focus on instruction and allow teachers to teach the skills which will help our students flourish in a worldwide economy.  Less time spent testing and preparing for tests means more time for actual instruction and student learning.