Cheating on High Stakes Tests

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 0

John Merrow has documented several scandals involving cheating, including this one in Washington, DC, under former Chancellor Michelle Rhee. In Merrow’s Blog, Learning Matters/Taking Note, he documents a common way for teachers or principals to change answers to high stakes tests in order to raise the test scores of students. The cheating method is called erasures and the analysis method to uncover that is called Wrong-To-Right Erasures.

The gist of his message: the many ‘wrong to right’ erasures on the students’ answer sheets suggested widespread cheating by adults.

Are Portfolios the Next Wave of Student Assessment?

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 0

One of my favorite blogs is CreatEquity. In one of their blogs a few weeks ago, (Portfolios: The Next Wave of Student Assessment? By LINDSEY COSGROVE | Published: DECEMBER 30TH, 2013) they highlighted the rising role of portfolios in schools and the need for performance assessments as opposed to standardized testing. It could be argued that we really have enough standardized testing to last a life time, and if that method was going to help us, it would have, already, by now. Unfortunately, the paradigm of standardized testing is not a strong enough measurement of how and what the brain is learning. But instead it has caused accountability to be transferred away from teaching and learning by measuring the wrong types of things such as brain processing speed, access to quality curriculum, and even socio-economic background traits. Outside tests have a very difficult time measuring what types of learning and teaching are going on inside a school. So one of the references for this blog mentions a great report to read and understand this trend:

Google’s Assessment System

posted in: Assessment | 0

Assessment should help us know what our goals are, how well we are making progress toward those goals, and the evidence of our progress. Although this seems easy to say, systems of assessment that work well and are understandable are hard to find. Here is an excellent example from the company named Google.

When Google was less than a year old, John Doerr, one of its investors, made a presentation pitching the company on using a organizational system called Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs. The OKR system came from Intel. Google took to OKRs pretty much immediately and has been using it ever since.

New Assessment System: Evidence of Teacher and Student Learning (ETSL)

posted in: Arts, Assessment, Reform | 0

Pioneering Performance Assessments

The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc. recommends from previous evaluations (Southworth 2008) that there is a need for a performance assessment system to more accurately and equitably measure the learning outcomes described in the ETSL Templates. There is a vacuum associated with the accurate measurement of complex student performance in education. The arts have a long history of pioneering and were one of the first subject areas to adopt the pursuit of national standards (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations 1994). Researchers (Moss 1996) have argued that assessment is trapped in the psychometric side of understanding, in the standardization of the process across individuals, classrooms, districts and that the creative use of performance assessment might lead to more accurate measurement of student achievement.

NYSCA Common Ground; Transforming Your New Thinking

posted in: Arts, Resources | 1

For ten years, the SchoolWorks Lab worked with the New York State Council on the Arts. This state arts funding group was responsible for handing out millions of dollars and supporting arts activities around the empire state. In this Common Ground workshop outlined below, Amy Chase Gulden, Phil Alexander and I worked on translating the latest thinking of arts groups into researched stories that could be shared with others:

Transforming your New Thinking

A Common Ground Workshop

On Transforming ETSL Units

Into Public Discussions

In order to Sustain Your Partnership

March, 2010

Tests Do not Agree, but, 80% of Houston District’s Students Can’t Read

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 0

News from the Houston Press about the Houston Independent School District which won the Broad Prize for best district based on Texas testing, is countered by other tests, notably the Stanford that reveal large groups of students are not ready for high school because they cannot read on grade level. Please click on the link for the Houston Press article about this, from which, several paragraphs are quoted below…this is an important topic in our test driven society….

Their HISD principal (we agreed not to name anyone) says that 80 percent of ninth graders arrive at the high school unable to read on grade level. And yet these same kids passed their state of Texas tests in all the years preceding. Most of these teenagers, this principal says, arrive reading at the fourth- or fifth-grade level.

Conference at Teachers College: “Testing Then and Now”

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 0

I recently had the good fortune to be at Teachers College for the “Testing Then and Now” conference held on December 9, 2013 in New York. The three sessions of speakers focussed on the history of testing contributions by faculty at Teachers College, the backlash against testing today and The Gordon Commission on the future of assessment in education. What a gift to be brought together with all of these perspectives in one room! My thanks go to Madhabi Chatterji, director of AERI, and to partner organizations IUME, ESPA and all the participants for an illuminating look into the diverse world of testing. Several views on testing were highlighted, including…

Special Education Needs a Radical Reform

posted in: Reform, Resources | 0

Chester Finn, a past Secretary of Education in President Reagan’s cabinet, has made such a clear statement on special education that I wanted to make it widely available on my site. I echo his words here not just because the special education system is ineffective but also because my three kids have suffered from a well-intentioned federal program that does not work for them. We have, quite literally, thousands of emails, hundreds of letters and lots of time devoted to advocating for the best education our children can get, but the system set up to help us and them achieve this quality, is broken. We are now getting more help from a new school system who has the resources and knowledge we need, but even this great help is a brand new program with issues to work out. We have written to every level of the educational system, from principals to superintendents, from state directors to federal authorities, in our search for reform, and we have not found it. Chester Finn’s statement below is just the tip of the special education iceberg, where the progress we have made in schools over four decades is threatened by the antiquated policy for children with disabilities. So one place to start is some economic funding suggestions included below:

Poverty Cuts Off Your Long-Term Brain

posted in: Reform, Resources | 13

I was admiring Nelson Mandela’s words yesterday and thinking about racism and poverty. When I want better schools, I can’t start the conversation without thinking about the context of those schools. Schools are very much a reflection of the society around them. Some argue that we cannot change schools without changing society. So can we change society? What are more kids in poverty now than twenty years ago? This alone would indicate a failure of society, not the schools into which we send poor kids! And all I can see from my little perch, is that we do not have the will power to stop our short term thinking and embrace the harder conversations that lead to long-term thinking and successful societies. I came across Andy Smarick’s column and he advised looking at this Atlantic magazine piece on the “how” of poverty: