Common Core Standards: Sky is not falling, but ground is shifting

Mel Riddile is the associate director for high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His work in turning around schools in Virginia earned him the 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year award. This is his first piece for the AJC Get Schooled blog

By Mel Riddile

To answer a couple of the education questions on the minds of Georgia citizens these days:

Yes, we can expect to see a significant drop in the first year of the new Georgia Performance Standards assessments.

No, the sky is not falling.

But the ground is shifting.

Previous Georgia standards and assessments aimed merely to validate a high school diploma. Nothing more.

The new Georgia Performance Standards, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards, call for a much higher level of student performance as indicators of college-and-career-readiness.

Georgia was one of the first states to adopt the new Common Core standards in English, language arts and math. In fact, the standards were rolled out in 2010 at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, reflective of the major role of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, a leader in the effort.

The standards are designed to provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn at each grade level.

Students will be taking new tests, calibrated to new, higher standards, and assessed on a new scale.

Factor in the short amount of time that Georgia students have been exposed to the GPS, and it becomes clear that the first round of scores should be considered not as a definitive summation of Georgia students’ abilities, but rather as a benchmark for gauging progress toward the standards.

While the results are imminent, we can choose how to react to them. Officials in many of the 45 other states that have adopted higher standards are anticipating that an initial wave of lower scores will give way to higher student performance in the future.

Kentucky, for example, pre-empted the drama months before scores were even available. Kentucky State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday delivered a consistent message that, as he predicted to Education Week, “scores would drop because students taking K-PREP [the new Kentucky assessments] now have to deal with longer, nonfiction reading passages, for example, and exhibit greater ‘technical fluency’ in their comprehension skills.”

My conversations with principals in Kentucky confirm that the message penetrated local communities, and while the nation gasped at the first round of K-PREP results, the state itself steeled for the drop and maintained its focus on improving student performance.

Florida assessments generated similar results, but the reaction was somewhat different. Horrified by the mere 27 percent proficiency rating fourth-graders, the state Board of Education called an emergency meeting, at which they decided to shift the proficiency scale so a much more comfortable 81 percent of students were proficient.

As one parent told the Wall Street Journal, “It calls into question the veracity of the entire enterprise.” Indeed. And worse, it robs Florida students of rigor and authentic assessment.

Of course, reactions will be dictated by agendas. Georgia is one of several states that recently made it easier for for-profit education providers to tap public education funds.

Those providers have a lot to gain from perpetuating the “failing public schools” narrative. Going into the assessments with clear expectations will neutralize those agendas and help us lock our focus where it really matters: Student learning.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

197 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

December 28th, 2012
5:33 am

I wonder if some of the questions Invisible Serfs Collar raises will be addressed? Or will those questions be dismissed as “not important” as the values of honesty and integrity seem to be by so many on this blog?

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 28th, 2012
7:17 am

All of the talk about Common Core and assessments misses many fundamental issues, including the central factor that standardized tests do not measure learning. They are truly worthless to help us determine whether or not kids have learned anything. I won’t argue this point with anyone who hasn’t studied the independent research, for the conclusions are very consistent. Only research conducted or financed by entities with much to gain financially from this vast move to “standardize” everything — supports use of standardized testing assessments.

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 28th, 2012
7:23 am

Beverly Fraud, I just want to let you know that I’ll be ignoring your posts from now on. You seem to have a real investment in the belief that “Either you follow me into the Beverly Hall issue OR you must not care about teachers, Herb Garrett, Joe Paterno, etc–in a word, integrity.”
So long, Beverly Fraud.

Pride and Joy

December 28th, 2012
7:45 am

I appreciated this article and I appreciate this comment “now have to deal with longer, nonfiction reading passages, for example, and exhibit greater ‘technical fluency’ in their comprehension skills.”
Reading comprehension is the most fundamental skill we need and I mean all of us, every technician, doctor, lawyer and McDonald’s grill worker. One has to be able to read and understand what you are reading.
Perhaps now with the new common core standards focusing so much time on this skill, we will actually have more focus on reading comprehension in school instead of whatever political agendas are being shoved onto our children.
I just got wind of a new political agenda. Mary Lin Elementary teachers are now being forced to have two lessons a year teaching bi-racial history. That’s two days taken away from reading comprehension.
History is history. There is no bi-racial history. Our children should study READING, WRITING and ARITHMETIC in elementary school. We shouldn’t even study history nor social studies until the third grade, just as we did when I was a kid.
My children are in private school and they do just that. THey study reading, writing and arithmetic. No social studies and no science until they went to the third grade and they are far ahead of their public school peers.
We need to force the schools to allow the teachers to teach the fundamentals instead of forcing them to teach politics and then grading them on the fundamentals…
That’s not fair to anyone. Not for the teachers nor the students nor the tax paying citizens like me.

AnnieAD

December 28th, 2012
7:51 am

I am with you Cindy.

Dewey Cheatham & Howe

December 28th, 2012
8:14 am

Beverly-

You’ve beat it to death. We get it. Nothings gonna happen. All that stuff is way off topic. Give it a rest.Your ox was gored. We get that. ow move on.

indigo

December 28th, 2012
8:22 am

“reactions will be directed by agendas”

Whites will do signifacantly better than minorities on these tests.

Civil rights leaders will bitterly complain about not having a “level playing field”.

In time, one way or another, standards will be “adjusted” for minorities.

dc

December 28th, 2012
8:28 am

Baffling – seriously – to hear educators say that a test doesn’t measure learning. Don’t you all realize how idiotic that sounds? Given that you use tests every week to measure learning?

It does scare me sometimes to think that this thinking so permeates our eduacracy.

Fred ™

December 28th, 2012
8:43 am

dc: Tests measure KNOWLEDGE not learning. I got straight A’s though school and never learned a thing from a teacher. I slept through my classes……. or read books in the ones that wouldn’t let me sleep. But I had the knowledge to answer the insipid questions on the test………

Fred ™

December 28th, 2012
8:47 am

Is everything in moderation?

Fred ™

December 28th, 2012
8:48 am

LOL typo in the address causes eaten posts……

dc: Tests measure KNOWLEDGE not learning.

redweather

December 28th, 2012
8:49 am

@dc, I share your bafflement. Perhaps the word “standardized” is the problem.

SEE

December 28th, 2012
8:59 am

Actually, I don’t use tests to measure accuracy. I use several performance criteria throughout the week to gauge whether a child has learned a specific concept. For example, day 1 – I review place value and then step further to teach subtraction w/regrouping using manipulatives. I judge who got it and who didn’t. Next day, the students work on it using pictorial representations, while I help the ones who didn’t get it yesterday. I check the work and see who understood this lesson and who needs re-teaching The next lesson involves the abstract method that we all learned. Once again, I do a quick problem or two to see who’s got it and who needs help. When I give a “test”, I already know who has learned it, who almost has it, and who is really struggling. The test is for parents to see how well their child is doing.

crankee-yankee

December 28th, 2012
9:02 am

dc
December 28th, 2012
8:28 am

Yes we give tests and use the results as PART of our overall assessment of a student’s achievement. That, along with portfolios of their work, projects, individual & team participation and other assessments are a much clearer picture of what a student has achieved. A single standardized (i.e. multiple choice, T/F) test is not a true reflection of achievement, only a predictor of future capabilities. Short answer questions, essays, oral reports, etc. are part of the arsenal we use over the course of a grading period to assess, something a standardized test does not and cannot do.

It does scare me sometimes that there are people who think a standardized test is the gold standard in assessment.

Centrist

December 28th, 2012
9:08 am

From the last four paragraphs of the blog above, I guess the conclusion is that since “for-profit education providers [are able to] tap public education funds”, we should follow Florida and “shift the proficiency scale” to make it appear that public education is doing better than it is.

Problems solved.

Michele

December 28th, 2012
9:14 am

I am an avid supporter of the Common Core Standards. As a military brat, I attended 11 different schools in my 12 years of public school. I know for a fact that I missed fundamental instruction at times, and that I duplicated fundamental instruction at other times because of all the differences in curriculum between states and school districts across the country. The common Core curriculum professes to standardize instruction schedules and requirements for all states. This would definitely be an advantage in the mobile society in which we live. The higher level of challenge, if it is truly higher, would also be an advantage. My question comes with the incessant testing in our schools today. There needs to be a way that schools could structure their testing to meet their particular make-up of students. The same test for every child in a school is not realistic. There is no way that you can give the same test to the learning deficient student and the highly gifted student. The tests need to be structured to different groups of students, just as the instructional calendar and technics need to be. We should not become “cookie-cutter” schools.

Progressive Humanist

December 28th, 2012
9:21 am

Cindy @ 7:17: Can you cite some of the independent research that you’re referring to that has been so convincing? I am unaware of research in the field of psychometrics that would lead to that conclusion and would like to examine the research you discussed.

teacher&mom

December 28th, 2012
9:24 am

@dc…”Baffling – seriously – to hear educators say that a test doesn’t measure learning.”

What if you went to the DMV to take the driving test and they required you to take the test in a semi truck or on a motorcycle? Would you consider that fair? What if you studied for the written portion and the test contained several questions regarding airline safety? Would you consider that fair?

Yes, teachers test every week. However, standardized tests do not always align with the standards. Remember the 7th grade social studies CRCT test mess a few years ago?

Are you familiar with Pineapple test question that popped up on the NY 8th grade tests?
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/talking-pineapple-question-state-exam-stumps-article-1.1064657

How sure are you that Common Core tests do not contain similar flaws?

The GA Physical Science EOCT had to be re-scored this past semester because a test item was thrown out. This is a test that has been in place since 2008 and they are still finding mistakes!

Now do you understand why teachers are hesitant to “embrace” standardized testing as the ultimate indicator of student learning?

Progressive Humanist

December 28th, 2012
9:34 am

Multiple choice tests can and do measure more than simple knowledge and memory, particularly if they are well designed. Measuring learning is a slightly different story, but that can also be done with standardized multiple choice tests. Learning is the change in what students know or in the skills they have mastered, so a single test will not be able to measure learning, as crankee-yankeee suggests. At least two different tests administered at different times are necessary to measure learning. You measure knowledge and/or skills at one time and then you measure the same knowledge and/or skills at another time, and it will give you a rough estimate of the change in students’ skills and knowledge, which is what learning is.

I am an advocate of open-ended questions for the purposes of both learning and assessment, but measuring those types of items is notoriously subjective (yes, even with a rubric). Scoring them for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of students becomes particularly problematic.

Positive change from current procedures would be welcomed by all involved. However, you’ve got to be able to suggest a more valid, more reliable, more efficient, and more effective alternative, and just eliminating standardized testing is not that solution.

Progressive Humanist

December 28th, 2012
9:39 am

teacher&mom- While you are correct that test items may not always align with standards (which happens less and less frequently), it is far more common that teachers have not taught the standards they were supposed to, and then when the test assesses the students on those standards they are surprised by the items and can’t answer them. They never learned it.

Michael Moore

December 28th, 2012
9:39 am

For Florida and Kentucky (a state that adopted the common core before they were anywhere near finished) the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) had been telling you the same news for years and Georgia as well (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/).

And when I think of Sonny Perdue I certainly think Education Leadership Governor.

Private Citizen

December 28th, 2012
9:44 am

On the Beverly thing, I see her point and the validity in her point. Apparently the superintendent’s association that gave the award will not rescind it. Therefore in the long run, they lose legitimacy and standing.

Common Core: seems like “national standards” to me, basic stuff, and a big improvement for Georgia from that bad home-grown dirt weed they were making everybody smoke, the former “Georgia Standards.” I do not see the connection between “Common Core” and the “tell you how to teach” movement and “put these slogans on the wall” poison.

Pardon, I have not “read the article” and I’ve got to run out the door.

skipper

December 28th, 2012
9:45 am

It is funny, and often sad, too, to see what education has become. There are always the new cures of the day, the latest reasearch, and the education gurus who have all the answers. Many are neglecting some of the (or possibly MOST) of the largest problems.
One is that society has changed. With the breakup of the family, schools have been put in the position of having to raise and train kids in the most elementary fundamentals of behaviour, especially in poorer areas. This is not to say that all poor areas suffer this malady, or that it is only these areas, but by and large that dynamic has held water.
The idea that a teacher could get in trouble for touching a student by breaking up a fight, or that a student can cuss a teacher and next to nothing (or nothing at all) will be done is abominable. Discipline has largely been thrown out the window. The punishment for such behaviour should be swift and sure.
Teachers are spending too much time teaching tests, handling (or living with) discipline problems, and having to be made the scapegoat for every child’s failure. The latest feel-good (code for the overused self-esteem mantra) hypothesis is always around the corner. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and quit coming up with some crud that somebody thinks may be the answer.
How about putting teaching back in the hands of the teachers. How about getting the politics out of local school boards, who in many areas are much more concerned about hiring friends and creating a beaurocracy that would make Washington D.C. blush than actual education. How about holding parents accountable for certain problems instead of subscribing to the “not my baby” syndrome. How about real discipline? How about getting political correctness out, and getting educational values in? Teachers have so much to worry about today in this over-litigating “I’m gettin’ mine” ritual that one slip-up could mean a firing, lawsuit, etc.
A wise old fellow once said “I’m not sure what the answer is, but what we are doing is not working!”
We have taken education and it has morphed into a political football that the beaurocrats keep fumbling. (See the EPA.)

Mary Elizabeth

December 28th, 2012
9:46 am

“Kentucky, for example, pre-empted the drama months before scores were even available. Kentucky State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday delivered a consistent message that, as he predicted to Education Week, ’scores would drop because students taking K-PREP [the new Kentucky assessments] now have to deal with longer, nonfiction reading passages, for example, and exhibit greater ‘technical fluency’ in their comprehension skills.’

My conversations with principals in Kentucky confirm that the message penetrated local communities, and while the nation gasped at the first round of K-PREP results, the state itself steeled for the drop and maintained its focus on improving student performance.”
=====================================================

In all due respect to principals, including most of my former outstanding principals, I have found that few educators (teachers, administrators, national and state educational leaders) grasp fully the fact that students will INVARIABLY function on differing functioning levels – at each grade level – because their intelligence, differing capabilities, and experiential backgrounds will always vary. Until that fact is acknowledged and addressed adequately systematically, some students will continue to fall behind others, and thereby will continue to fail, even with excellent Common Core Standards for each grade level established. Students will invariably learn at differing rates, because of the reasons given above. Educators must wake up to this fact – especially those in the power positions to effect positive change for all students.

EXAMPLE to illustrate this fact concretely from my post “Assessing Teachers and Students,” published on my personal blog, “Mary Elizabeth Sings,” February 25, 2012:
————————————————————————–

“I recognize that the value-added-assessment formula measures not only the student’s progress for the current year, but it measures, also, the probability of the student’s progress based on how much that student had progressed for the past three to five years, on the average, for each year. Thus, if the student achieves less than that average amount of progress for his present year, his present teacher could be rated as a poor instructor. (Other factors, such as a principal’s evaluation through observation are, also, considered.)

However, here is the catch. I was taught, as a graduate student, that if a student is reading within two years of his grade level, that he will be able to function in the reading requirements for that grade level. This means that if a 7th grade student is reading on 5th grade level that he will be able to function in the material for the 7th grade, but if he is reading on 4th grade level or below, in 7th grade, then he will not be able to function on 7th grade material.

Now, in considering the variable of IQ score, Johnny has scored in the IQ range of 83 to 88 for several years. That means that he is probably below average in his innate potential. One could, then, reasonably expect Johnny to grow 7 months in a 12 month period. Let’s say Johnny is in 2nd grade and he is reading on grade level 1.5 which is sufficient for him to function in 2nd grade. Next, he enters 3rd grade and he is reading on 2.2 grade level, having grown 7 months in 2nd grade. Johnny should still be able to learn and grow in 3rd grade because he is not reading more than two years behind 3rd grade level. So, he grows another 7 months in 3rd grade, with good instruction, based on his potential.

Now, we have Johnny in 4th grade and he has advanced in his reading skills to 2.9 grade level, which is within the two year cut off point for being able to master the curriculum for 4th grade. Next year, Johnny is in 5th grade and, having advanced 7 months in a year, he is reading on 3.6 grade level, but he can still cope. The next year, in 6th grade, Johnny is only reading on 4.3 grade level which is barely sufficient for coping with 6th grade material. In 7th grade, Johnny is only reading on 5.0 grade level, and he just barely passes his classes, but he does pass to 8th grade. In 8th grade, he reading on 5.7 grade level. Each year, then, from 2nd grade to 8th grade, Johnny has made his maximum progress which was – based on his IQ potential – 7 months of growth for a year’s work.

Johnny has been promoted to 8th grade because he passed 7th grade curriculum, but he is only reading on 5.7 grade level in the 8th grade, or more than two years behind his grade level. Therefore, although his 8th grade teacher may be a good teacher, Johnny may not advance 7 months in the 8th grade, as before, because he will have been taught on his frustration level during his 8th grade year. Johnny’s teacher was not aware of his IQ scores, nor of his academic developmental history, which had shown how he finally reached an academic frustration point in his 8th grade school year. In fact, Johnny may even regress in his reading skills in 8th grade because he will have spent a year being taught on his frustration level. At the end of his 8th grade year, his reading level may only be 5.5 grade level. When he entered 8th grade, his reading level was 5.7 grade level. His teacher is surprised that she received a poor rating based on Johnny’s 2 months’ regression in his standardized test scores. After all, his previous years’ scores had shown that Johnny could be expected to advance at least 7 months in a year’s time. His teacher does not know why he regressed by 2 months since she had tried so hard to help him grow. Johnny does enter 9th grade, however, because he (barely) passed most of his classes even though he regressed in his standardized reading scores, but now he is only reading on grade level 5.5 in 9th grade, or 3 and 1/2 years behind grade level – a perfect candidate for drop-out status. If teachers had made wise and prudent use of Johnny’s IQ scores, as well as having spent time assessing his developmental history, they might have analyzed his unique needs more wisely, earlier, and they might have provided him with the remediation he needed, earlier, even though he was advancing ‘according to how he had advanced previously.’

If student data continues to be used to evaluate teachers, a factor of data so vital as a student’s IQ must also be weighed, along with his curriculum standardized pretest and posttest scores, if one is to assess – accurately – the effectiveness of a teacher’s instruction, as well as how to instruct, effectively, to each student’s needs.”
——————————————————————————————-

Other factors besides IQ, as I have stated, are operative which will make necessary the continuous addressing of the variances in instructional levels of students within each grade level. The above example was only illustrative of IQ variances. Thus, I am linking another of my posts on my blog, entitled, “Mastery Learning,” (which I have previously linked here) especially for the perusal of Mel Riddle, and other educational leaders who are in positions to create schools which will address effectively the continuous (and variable) progress of students in grades k -12. Until this continuously occurring variability in students is acknowledged and addressed, students will continue to fail – irrespective of our good, though misguided, intentions to improve education. See link below.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

Dr. Monica Henson

December 28th, 2012
9:46 am

“Georgia is one of several states that recently made it easier for for-profit education providers to tap public education funds.”

OK, people, let’s go over this once again: Every single public school in this country does business with multiple “for-profit education providers” and pays them with public education funds. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

That aside, I am quite excited about the Common Core Standards and the assessments. At a recent educational leadership conference I attended, the keynote speaker was Sue Gendron, former commissioner of education in Maine. (Incidentally, she is now with the International Center for Leadership in Education, a–gasp!–for-profit education provider.) Sue works with the SMARTER Balance Assessment Consortium, a group of states preparing an integrated assessment system for Common Core. (Georgia is a member of the PARCC consortium.)

Sue offered some sample assessment items for us to get an idea of what students will be facing. One of the math items really opened our eyes. We were presented with a list of numbers–4, 8, 16, 64, 81–and asked which one didn’t belong. Of course most of us answered, “81.” When asked why, we responded that it wasn’t an even number. When she asked, “Why else?” some gave the reason that it wasn’t a multiple of 4. She then asked, “What else doesn’t belong?” surprising those of us who expected that there was one right answer. Some folks answered, “8, because it isn’t a perfect square.”

This was a great example of how students’ thinking can be pushed beyond the simple, single-correct-answer box that so many standardized tests have created. This isn’t something to fear–it’s something to welcome.

Private Citizen

December 28th, 2012
9:47 am

Someone said in a post to look to Kentucky for good things. There’s some guy in Kentucky who knows what’s up. (superintendent? state DOE?)

teacher&mom

December 28th, 2012
9:57 am

@Progressive Humanist: Perhaps the teachers did not teach the standards. However, in my experience, what often happens is teachers run out of time to cover all the standards. This is most likely the case if they have a group of struggling learners or special education students.

So what happens the next year….

The teachers revisit the standards and dissect their test results. They learn to skim over certain standards (a strategy taught by many school reform experts), focus on the “power standards”, and push students through the curriculum in order to cover everything by the end of the year/semester.

This results in student gaps in learning for many struggling students. Mastery learning is a thing of the past because the luxury of time has been eliminated by the need to cover everything by April.

The Common Core will not fix this problem. Instead, the state-to-state comparisons will only lead to more “pushing and shoving” through the curriculum.

Dr. Proud Black Man

December 28th, 2012
10:15 am

I see it took six posts until one of the usual “dog whistlers” shows up.

Cindy Lutenbacher

December 28th, 2012
10:19 am

Yep, dc and redweather, the issue is the multiple-choice, standardized tests. Those are the creatures I ask you to explore via solid research studies conducted about them. The studies span decades and show that the tests reveal little to nothing of value, and they replace far more important teaching, learning, and assessments.

AlreadySheared

December 28th, 2012
10:22 am

“… standardized tests do not measure learning. They are truly worthless to help us determine whether or not kids have learned anything.”

“War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength.” – Cindy heart Big Brother.

Georgia and education not compatible

December 28th, 2012
10:27 am

Why didn’t Georgia start Common Core for Kindergarten students then phase it in like that? As a parent, it seems that all students started this year behind. How and when do teachers get students up to “standards?”

The sky may not be falling but the ground is doing more than shifting…

Interestingly enough, I’m reading “Wasting Minds: Why our education system is failing and what we can do about it” by Ronald Wolk

As I am reading, I decide to ask my college freshman what she thought of high school…her response, “It was a waste of time because they only taught to the test.” Hmmm…

Even more interesting, my daughter told me that many kids from out of state didn’t take ANY Advanced Placement courses!

As I ponder the future for my remaining high school students, I am coming dangerously close to thinking that public education is full of crap. It doesn’t matter about CCGPS standards, GPS standards, etc…it won’t really help the kids b/c teachers will be required to teach to the test since their evaluations will be tied to these assessments. Colleges will still complain that kids aren’t ready. What’s a parent to do?

teacher&mom

December 28th, 2012
10:29 am

redweather

December 28th, 2012
10:43 am

@Cindy Lutenbacher, “Yep, dc and redweather, the issue is the multiple-choice, standardized tests. Those are the creatures I ask you to explore via solid research studies conducted about them. The studies span decades and show that the tests reveal little to nothing of value, and they replace far more important teaching, learning, and assessments.”

Which solid research studies exactly?

And for the record, I am not a proponent of standardized tests per se, nor am I willing to reject them out of hand as utterly worthless.

redweather

December 28th, 2012
11:01 am

This link http://fairtest.org/facts/whatwron.htm is the sort of thing that many people rely on when criticizing multiple-choice tests. It would be much more persuasive if these Fair Test Fact Sheets contained some citations to authority.

bu2

December 28th, 2012
11:03 am

We have large numbers of students failing, so we are going to raise the standards even higher? I fear we are asking to much at too young an age. 3rd graders are doing math that we did in junior high. Large amounts of material get covered in very short periods. And we spend 4 or 5 weeks a year on standardized testing, reducing the amount of time teaching.

Before figuring out what we want the students to learn and plugging it into the 12 years, we need to make sure we understand what children can learn and at what ages.

redweather

December 28th, 2012
11:03 am

This link http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/40990.html will no doubt be rejected because it appears on the CollegeBoard website.

AlreadySheared

December 28th, 2012
11:05 am

@redweather,
Despite the bleats of eduzealots like Ms. Lutenbacher, hundreds (thousands?) of universities continue to use standardized, multiple-guess tests like the SAT and ACT to help them predict the academic performance of the freshmen they admit.

1) Her gross obtuseness in this regard makes me question the value of any dialogue you might have with her.

2) On average (I repeat ON AVERAGE), education majors currently score lower on the above tests than other professions. Aesop’s story about the fox and the grapes comes to mind.

“Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves.”

bu2

December 28th, 2012
11:11 am

@redweather
Sounds like the person writing that always did terrible on standardized tests, but their teachers liked them. That article encourages subjective evaluations which any study shows are dramatically impacted by the measurer’s relation to the subject. If you like workplace performance evaluations, you would love this person’s suggestions for evaluating students.

bu2

December 28th, 2012
11:16 am

We spend way too much time on standardized tests and make them too “high stakes.” But they are useful tools that do tell you things. They tell me a lot more about my children’s progress than report cards, as easy as it is to get an “A” or “B” nowadays. They are subjective and, if well designed (that probably rules out Georgia’s attempt to re-invent the wheel-CRCT), can measure a lot of things the linked fair test article says it does poorly.

Middle School teacher

December 28th, 2012
11:18 am

Are multiple choice tests perfect? No. But given the alternatives, they are an efficient way of administering assessments. We use them not only for assessing content knowledge in the classrooms, CRCT and EOCT, but also for larger scale tests like the ITBS, SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT and aptitude tests for entrance into the armed forces (some of these are norm-referenced and not standards referenced). This has been done since the 1940’s. Would it be more ideal to asses students using a long form written or even oral exam? Sure. But the costs and time involved (not to mention the lack of objectivity) are significantly higher. The new PARC tests that will be used for Common Core assessments will contain written portions (also called performance tasks)- so it seems test makers are at least trying to construct more balanced assessments that measure a student’s ability to process and manipulate information, not just memorize it. But it will take time to re-condition students to take standardized tests that are more rigorous.
I agree that the better way to measure what students have learned in the school year is to capture the differential (by using a pre-test at the beginning of the year and comparing this to the post-test at the end). However, I do not think the standardized tests at the end of the year are totally worthless. They do provide some valuable feedback and it doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bath water by discounting their value and validity altogether. Most teachers know the limitations of the test scores and use them as best they can to try to reach students who need extra help and as an overall gauge of their students’ background knowledge. Students who do not meet the standards in gateway years (at my school at least) are given intensive remediation and then re-tested – at which time most of them pass. Some students will never meet the standards and that is what we have to accept as a statistical fact.

bootney farnsworth

December 28th, 2012
11:22 am

I gotta be honest. as soon as she touted Sonny as a leader in anything to do with education, I stopped reading.

bootney farnsworth

December 28th, 2012
11:39 am

common core
common cause
common cold

its all pointless until the real issues of corruption and bloat at the top are dealt with

Pride and Joy

December 28th, 2012
11:43 am

About standardized testing, I disagree that “They are truly worthless to help us determine whether or not kids have learned anything.”
Standardized tests measure reading comprehension very well. One reads a passage and answers multiple choice questions based on the information in the text. They are incredibly easy for anyone who can read and comprehend what they are reading, which is THE MOST fundamental skill every human being needs to learn.
Think about all the things we do daily that require us to read, comprehend and perform: Giving medicine — we have to read the directions on the back of all over the counter medicine —
Every contract we sign, even a simple lease or a contract to buy or lease a car.
Cooking — read the recipe and follow the directions. All these very simple things we need to do everyday and we need to know how to read, understand what we read and be able to perform based on that understanding.
Standardized tests measure reading comprehension extremely well and it is perfectly suited to measure it.

Georgia

December 28th, 2012
11:44 am

Testing Stifles Teaching. It requires a third party observer to judge the same learning curve that the Teacher and Student are creating. Thus a behavioral spectrum emerges and thus everyone is right and everyone is wrong, but at least all 100% try to sell their spam on blogdom. If you click on any of the links here you automatically are contributing to and causing the commercial spam cloud of stink that exists like some gas bubble that din’t get enough motherin’. I dont appreciate it and I know others dont neither nor. TestingRus? Let the students test the teachers for a couple semesters. Lets shake it up. Lets change the curriculum and produce uberkinters! They’ll know what to do with those tests. As a supporter of PTA projects all year long, I demand the resignation of every educator involved NASSP’s neglectfully-juvenile acts of truancy. They are a menace to any just resource allocation, and a scourge to civilization.

Mikey D.

December 28th, 2012
11:46 am

“I gotta be honest. as soon as she touted Sonny as a leader in anything to do with education, I stopped reading.”

+ 1,000!
Has there ever been a worse governor for education in Georgia? Complete waste of space, completely devoid of any leadership qualities, for 8 years! But, he sure knew how to build a fishin’ pond, huh?

Progressive Humanist

December 28th, 2012
12:10 pm

Cindy Lutenbacher @ 10:19:

Again, I’d ask you to cite at least a couple of the “solid research studies” you’re referring to. Redweather has made the same request. I’m a bit skeptical of your claims, but if you can cite the studies we can examine them. Without you being able to cite at least a handful, we’d have to question whether you have really “studied the independent research” yourself. What journals were the studies published in? Were they peer reviewed? Who were the researchers? You’re going to have to support your argument better.

Assessment is a complex field, and you seem to be confusing different constructs. Measuring learning (growth) is a bit different from measuring knowledge, which is a bit different from measuring skills, and they can all be measured with different types of assessments. Your assertion that tests can’t measure learning appears to be too broad and too simplistic. How would you, someone who has studied the independent research, actually measure learning in a valid and reliable way?

Pride and Joy

December 28th, 2012
12:16 pm

indigo, I wish your predictions weren’t true, but based on fifty years of GA education, I agree with you.

paulo977

December 28th, 2012
12:26 pm

Cindy L …”All of the talk about Common Core and assessments misses many fundamental issues, including the central factor that standardized tests do not measure learning. They are truly worthless to help us determine whether or not kids have learned anything”
___________________________________________________________

Cindy ,……….Of course he won’t read it himself , but ,do you think you could write this to the president whose Secretary of Ed. seems to think Standards etc are all we need to improve education!!!…

williebkind

December 28th, 2012
12:32 pm

“and exhibit greater ‘technical fluency’ in their comprehension skills.’”

A liberals nightmare.

teacherwantingachange

December 28th, 2012
12:41 pm

No amount of group work and “differentiated instruction” will compensate for students’ inability to read. Students in the earlier grades may be tested too much. But no one appears to be asking the right questions. What happens to these standardized test results?

Why does Dekalb even administer the IOWAs when it appears to ignore that data? And what, specifically, does Dekalb do with the CRCT data? I’ve asked and asked and asked what happens to that 20-50% of students lacking reading, social studies, science, or math proficiency. From what I’ve learned, nothing. They’re “passed along” and then the high school teachers are expected to “differentiate instruction” in classes with 35+ students.

And teachers will be evaluated according to student growth, but no one seems to be able to explain the following:
1. How are the benchmarks and SLOs valid tests? Who has vetted and standardized them?
2. If students are taught that assignments are only important when there is a grade attached to them (look at Dekalb’s cumbersome grading categories to see just how much this idea is promoted), then what is the incentive for a student to take a test far above his level (no one wants to talk about the lexile scores)? Has Dekalb examined the data to see how long students even spend taking these tests?
3. How are a district’s administrators evaluated? Dekalb’s touted curricula units are an embarrassment with little to nothing that is print-friendly, especially in the areas of “research-based strategies” and “differentiated instruction.”

And if standardized tests are a reality of college students’ lives- from the SAT to the ACT to the GRE to entrance exams and career tests- and students are purportedly preparing for college, then what should be done?