Quick – you’re a tech-savvy librarian and an administrator shows you the article below. How do you respond?
Archive for the ‘Standardized Testing’ Category
Getting stimulus money won’t come without reporting requirements, according to a letter that Arne Duncan, the U. S. Secretary of Education, says. Per The New York Times,
In a “Dear Governor” letter to the 50 states, Mr. Duncan said $44 billion in stimulus money was being made available to states immediately. To qualify for a second phase of financing later this year, however, governors will need to provide reams of detailed educational information.
The data is likely to reveal that in many states, tests have been dumbed down so that students score far higher than on tests administered by the federal Department of Education.
It will also probably show that many local teacher-evaluation systems are so perfunctory that they rate 99 of every 100 teachers as excellent and that diplomas often mean so little that millions of high school graduates each year must enroll in remediation classes upon entering college.
Such information, Mr. Duncan’s letter said, “will reveal both strengths and underlying challenges.”
Read the DOE press release here.
Our state just released the state’s Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) scores this week. I’m told that to be considered “proficient,” third graders must answer only 45% of math questions correctly and 43% of reading questions.
Makes you wonder … just what does proficient mean if you don’t even get half of the questions right? Are the questions purposefully out of scope (in which case, the test isn’t about mastery) or are students just not mastering the necessary content? What does this data really mean? And how does it matter to those of us in the trenches? (Reading the 45-page report on how to read the scores didn’t really answer this for me.)
Ummm, in case anybody asks, we are always relieved when our upper middle-class district scores come out strong. People correlate MEAP scores with home values, and this data has been used for years to justify why you should spend more for a ranch house in our district than in a similar neighborhood 30 minutes away.
But it makes me wonder … students took the test in October based on what they learned the previous year. Results aren’t announced until April. How exactly do these tests help students or teachers, as pro-standardized test advocates claim? Any teacher who doesn’t have a sense of his or her student’s abilities after 7 months of contact, observation, and assessment isn’t worth his or her salt, regardless of MEAP. (We used to say the same thing when the test was administered in late January/early February instead of October.)
So beyond the real estate market, who really benefits from this data? In a time when many districts are shaving programs, is spending state money on MEAP worth it?
And what will be the impact when this data is sent in to Secretary Duncan showing what a low bar we have for proficiency? Will it further erode the foothold of school librarians and classroom teachers seeking deep, inquiry-oriented learning?
What. If. This. Makes. Us. Focus. More. On. Standardized. Testing. Not. Less.