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August 31, 2013

The new Common Core test is a poorly written joke that will ruin lives

Reminder that this test is unproven and that all of our kids' educations are being spit-roasted on unfounded hogwash and poorly designed tests. Well, all of our public school kids, that is. What in the World Were State Officials Thinking? | Diane Ravitch's blog
From the first moment that I looked at some practice tests for the English Language Arts tests that were given recently, I knew that the kids and their teachers were in trouble. In his long experience as a teacher and test writer and curriculum developer, he said, “there was one guiding principal: never test students on skills or material that you have not taught and practiced. To do so not only would have been unfair to the students, but it would have made the tests unreliable and downright useless at a measure of student ability and knowledge. That is why, when I looked at the practice test, my first thought was that the questions were in the deep end of the pool when the kids were just learning how to swim. One that stuck in my mind was a passage from a 1920’s magazine about aspirin. Because the source article was written nearly 100 years ago, it contained some archaic language and syntax that would have been confusing to today’s adults, nonetheless eleven-year-olds. So the kids were at a disadvantage right away, trying to figure out the words they had never seen before, working them out through context. Then, the question called for skills that have never been tested before, nor taught by the teacher who showed me the sample questions. She admitted that she had been “teaching to the old test” for the past several years, trying to keep her kid’s all-important test scores up while trying to keep her job. “Education has nothing to do with what we have been doing for the past couple of years,” the teacher admitted with a nervous laugh. “It has been all about the numbers.” He found questions that had two right answers. He found questions that would send the kids into tears. And he wondered, “What in the world was the state thinking?” Indeed, what were state officials when they tested students on material they had not been taught, using unfamiliar vocabulary, having ambiguous answers, with the certainty that most students would fail? Was it John King’s inexperience that led him to align the state cut scores with NAEP’s proficiency levels? Did he not understand that NAEP proficiency is not a “passing” mark but a measure that connotes “solid academic performance”?

August 29, 2013

AN NYC teacher discusses the insane teacher evaluation system

Our Thoroughly Insane Teacher Evaluation System | Diane Ravitch's blog
Dear colleagues: Today our Measures of Student Learning Committee met to decide precisely how thoroughly invalid junk science measures will be used to rate teachers in Francis Lewis High School. We had several choices. We based our choices on the information available to us, which was very little. Our first choice was whether to use goal or growth measures. We were told that goal measures entailed inventing tests or projects. These tests or projects would then be sent to the insane ideologues at the NYC Department of Education who would set goals. The goals could have been different for individual students, which could mean ringing 170 different bells. Were you to disagree with the goals set by the DOE, you would have the option of submitting reasons and appealing to the principal, who would either deny your appeal or submit your reasons and appeal to the DOE for reconsideration. Given the tremendous amount of work we have ahead of us this year, we opted for growth models, although we have little or no idea how they will be calculated. For state measures, some were mandated to reflect individual classes of teachers. In those cases, we opted to have department results reflect the local measures. In other words, your department Regents results could be the local measures. This would reflect not only the exams in areas you teach, but those given by your entire department. For example, if you teach algebra, the results in geometry and trigonometry will also be part of your local measures. We aimed, in general, to make measures as broad as possible. Wherever possible, we tried to avoid competition between teachers and groups of teachers. We do not want teachers to feel they would be hurting themselves by, for example, tutoring students of their colleagues. If there was a state exam and individual class results were not mandated, your department results were your growth measure. In those cases, we opted to have the local measure be your department results. In this system, if the state measure was also department results, local growth would be measured by the lowest third of your department results. Because there is no logic, rhyme or reason to this system, we were prohibited from using the same standard twice. . . .

August 28, 2013

Dave-o's Latest Column for the Ann Arbor Chronicle, on Writing Careers, Plus Getting Quoted a Bunch in Forbes

(Reposted from my more daveocentric blog, on account these sorts...