Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for students and teachers and you actually thought the tides were changing with all the parental opposition to the standardized testing and the acceptance of the Opt-Out Movement, this new reform gets voted in just in time for April Fools Day, really? Why are we as a country ignoring all of the research on this ever so controversial topic? Standardized achievement test scores should be considered as rough guesstimates of a student’s position within the “norming group”. Which by the way isn’t exactly a normed population taking into consideration test-makers select their own sample from a target student population. Read more about this at Fairtest.
Alphie Kohn wrote in the year 2000 in Standardized Testing and Its Victims: Norm-referenced tests were never intended to measure the quality of learning or teaching. The Stanford, Metropolitan, and California Achievement Tests (SAT, MAT, and CAT), as well as the Iowa and Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS and CTBS), are designed so that only about half the test-takers will respond correctly to most items. The main objective of these tests is to rank, not to rate; to spread out the scores, not to gauge the quality of a given student or school.
Yes, teachers should be held accountable. To evaluate educational quality and the profession of teaching by using standardized testing is absurd! The time, energy, and money that we are devoting to preparing students for standardized tests comes with a cost that is beyond priceless.
This just in from the Washington Post: What the ‘thoughtless’ N.Y. government just did to teachers
“The New York legislature this week approved a budget along with some education reforms proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that have been strongly opposed by teachers in part because they make the state’s awful teacher evaluation system even worse. In this post, award-winning principal explains exactly why what the legislature did is so harmful to public schools.”
By Carol Burris
The New York State legislature celebrated the Eve of April Fools by making a bad teacher evaluation system even worse. With the exception of a few principled members, the rest of the Senate and Assembly fell in line, without care or concern for the consequences their “reform” would bring. More remarkably, by the time debate was done, it was obvious that many legislators had no understanding of what they were voting into law.
The bill was bundled with the budget. There was no opportunity for the profession, including those who actually evaluate teachers or principals, to weigh in. In the end, the legislature caved to Cuomo’s demand that student test scores be 50 percent of a teacher and principal’s evaluation.
This is the plan they approved: Teachers will receive two, component scores–one based on “student performance” and a second based on observations. State standardized tests must be used for the first score, if such tests are part of the course or grade level taught by the teacher. Schools may add an additional test, but it must be created by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), or be on a NYSED approved list. In both cases, NYSED must create the means to generate a standardized “growth score” for that test. Clearly, when the legislature politely called this measure “student performance,” they were talking about tests, not talent shows.