College Exit Exam

posted in: Assessment, Reform | 4

Taking Exit Exams in order to graduate college is a new trend in college accountability. Previously, a student’s grade-point-average would stand in for this accountability, except, it has been well known for some time that grade inflation is rampant at colleges and universities. By one measure employed by Teachers College, 43% of students receive and “A.” What is also interesting is the groups of people who are invested in this accountability—parents, lawmakers and others:

The advent of the college exit test is being driven largely by parents, lawmakers and others intent on making sure they’re getting their money’s worth from colleges and universities—and by employers who complain that graduates arrive surprisingly ill-prepared.

Integrating the Arts

posted in: Arts, Assessment, Reform | 0

In a recent post on the EdWeek blog, Matthew Lynch talks about the loss of the arts as subjects, and the use of the arts as integrated into other subjects. Before getting too enthusiastic about this approach, it is important to remember that integration of the arts requires common planning, implementing, and assessment. When the arts are placed in the classroom as full partners, student learning increases.

The arts have always had a secondary place in K-12 learning. If you doubt that statement, think of the first programs to go whenever budget cuts are implemented – music, fine arts and even physical fitness which includes dance. I’ve yet to hear of a school board or administrators discussing the way cutting math programs could help the school’s bottom line. There is a hierarchy of academics in America, and arts education tends to fall pretty low on the totem pole.

Questioning the Common Core In New York State

posted in: Reform | 0

Recently, Commissioner John King testified in front of the New York State Senate Committee on Education and defended the Common Core. Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, said school officials within his district are unified in their criticism of the Common Core.

“School superintendents, principals, school administrators, parents, PTA groups, classroom teachers — they all seem to be united in their opinion of the Common Core,” Maziarz said. “To me, those are experts that we are hearing from. Now, commissioner, to be frank with you, the people who seem to be supporting this are yourself and the members of the Board of Regents.” (Lohud.com)

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.