The following was posted on A.J. Wagner’s public Facebook page. I continue to observe many amazing and gifted people standing up and speaking out regarding the Common Core Standards, High Stakes Testing, and poor Curricular Materials placed in teacher’s hands in the public schools. All the while the charter schools are highlighted as “innovative” and doing extraordinary things with children. When I visit the pages of charter schools I personally see no innovation and nothing extraordinary.
They are merely being given the freedom to do exactly what public school teachers can do if given the flexibility and autonomy to do the same. Rather we are restricted to rigid and scripted programs, timelines, inappropriate pacing guides, and expected to deliver constant tests until testing and data seep out of our brains and drain our most needy students of having the quality instructional hours they deserve. When I had my own classroom inside the walls of a public school through the 90s and early 2000s, my students experienced everything highlighted by the charter schools. I was given autonomy to be creative. My students were out in the community, traveled on learning excursions, and their days were spent innovating and engaged in hands-on learning. My classroom flourished and my students learned to fall in love with learning.
Since 2001, NCLB, I continue to see the increasing harmful effects and the zapping of teacher’s ability to have the flexibility and freedom to create dynamic learning experiences in the public schools. The teachers I am in contact with, both within my building, and across the land are speaking about how they are figuring out ways to “squeeze” in the creative projects. However, with the narrowed curriculum and the focus upon what is tested, the majority of time is stolen so children can do well on a single test.
The new ESSA Bill is being espoused by many it will “change” all of this, but as I read through the 1200 page bill, I still have grave concerns. The focus upon “accountability” and “testing” is still very much engrained within the document.
If you are interested in reading or following A.J. Wagner… his Facebook Link is here:
For your convenience, I have included his entire post below…
Passionately Submitted By RAZ ON FIRE
IGNORE THOSE TEST SCORES… By A.J. Wagner
“It is important to consider that unless assessments are independently verified to adhere to basic standards of test development regarding validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness in administration, resulting scores will be meaningless and should not be used to make claims about student learning, progress, aptitude, nor readiness for college or career (see Legal Implications of High Stakes Assessments: What States Should Know).” – Roxana Marachi, Ph.D
The state of Ohio issued the first batch of test scores from last year’s round of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exams on English and Math. Don’t believe them. These tests, and their replacement tests, have not been independently, scientifically validated for effectiveness in measuring student aptitude. These tests were created and foisted upon our children without determining the ability of the questions to actually measure something.
The equivalent here would be a pharmaceutical company issuing a pill without animal or human testing. What is the effect of the pill? The company will tell you, “It will cure all sorts of ills. Give it to your kids and you’ll see.” When the kids get sick from the pill and its side effects they change the brand name, but the product offered up is the same untested medicine.
Doctor Roxanna Marachi Associate Professor from the Connie L. Lurie College of Education at San José State University is an education and psychology researcher who raises these questions about the untested tests.
- “Q1: How is standardization to be assumed when students are taking tests on different technological tools with vastly varying screen interfaces? Depending on the technology used (desktops, laptops, Chromebooks, and/or Ipads), students would need different skills in typing, touch screen navigation, and familiarity with the tool.
- “Q2: How are standardization and fairness to be assumed when students are responding to different sets of questions based on how they answer (or guess) on the adaptive sections of the assessments?
- “Q3: How is fairness to be assumed when large proportions of students do not have access at home to the technology tools that they are being tested on in schools? Furthermore, how can fairness be assumed when some school districts do not have the same technology resources as others for test administration?
- “Q4: How/why would assessments that had already been flagged with so many serious design flaws and user interface problems continue to be administered to millions of children without changes and improvements to the interface?”
These are but a few of the issues presented by tests whose effectiveness has not been properly measured. Without these issues being addressed, your children are on the receiving end of snake oil.
Steven Rasmussen, a mathematics educator and co-founder of Key Curriculum Press, studied the mathematics tests of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. He published a paper (The Common Core Mathematics Tests Are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used) this past March that is summarized as follows:
“This spring, tests developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will be administered to well over 10 million students in 17 states (including Ohio this coming spring) to determine their proficiency on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). This analysis of mathematics test questions posted online by Smarter Balanced reveals that, question after question, the tests:
- Violate the standards they are supposed to assess
- Cannot be adequately answered by students with the technology they are required to use
- Use confusing and hard-to-use interfaces
- Are to be graded in such a way that incorrect answers are identified as correct and correct answers as incorrect.
“No tests that are so flawed should be given to anyone. Certainly, with stakes so high for students and their teachers, these Smarter Balanced tests should not be administered. The boycotts of these tests by parents and some school districts are justified. Responsible government bodies should withdraw the tests from use before they do damage.” Read the full report…
The side effects of these tests are important to look at as well. Here is a short list of side effects that have been experienced so far. Some of these side effects are also the result of using these invalidated assessments to rate the teacher, the principal, the school, and the school district.
- To accommodate testing and test preparation, recess, art, music, physical education and subjects with great value to educating the whole person are being set aside.
- Curriculum must be geared to a test, not to the educational needs of a student. For instance, a child weak in vocabulary may be ignored in favor of teaching the high ordered thinking skills needed for the test.
- Scores are randomly set higher and higher without causal validity crating unnecessary pressures on teachers and schools.
- Teachers are leaving the profession while potential teachers are not signing up for those pressures. This is causing serious teacher shortages, especially in impoverished schools where teachers are being evaluated as ineffective because their students don’t do well on a test.
- The education gap between rich and poor is growing as is the racial segregation of schools.
- Whole communities are destroyed as their schools are rated poorly on an unvalidated tests reducing the value of their property and causing flight to other areas where more affluent schools can be accessed. This is despite the truth that some of our best teachers are in difficult schools with a dedication to help the poor.
- Even good teachers finally give up and move to more affluent schools where they are paid better and the tests don’t cause them to be rated as ineffective.
- Teachers’ relationships with students are negatively impacted by the teacher’s need to get the student to pass a test.
- Hundreds of millions of dollars are taken from the classroom and redirected to testing companies for a product that is wholly unreliable.
The tests dictated by the Every Student Succeeds Act have no validity and are doing harm to our kids. Don’t take this snake oil and don’t believe the claims of the Ohio Department of Education. Without validity, the scores can’t be believed, the teacher’s effectiveness can’t be proven, the principal’s value can’t be determined, the school’s success can’t be shown, and school district report card grades can’t be taken seriously. These tests should be dumped and the money spent on them returned to the classroom.
-A. J. Wagner, Ohio School Board Member