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Statewide Testing

This year will be the first year that I'll have to administer the new Statewide test. There wasn't any statewide test for sixth grade in Michigan until this year. Now there are 3 subject areas being tested, and a total of about 10 hours worth of tests. They'll be testing the Grade Level Content for the previous year.

I don't mind the general idea behind the tests, but what I really can't stand is two big things, and I'd like to talk about that today...

The first thing that really bugs me about this whole thing are the tests. I think a lot of the tests are pretty decent, and are geared in the right fashion, but some consist of some real idiotic questions. I've seen tests where a vast majority of the state's schools fail the test. Do you think that maybe the questions are aiming a little off the base? I think that would indicate a chance...

Over the past year our state has revamped the school curriculums with the updated Grade Level Content Expectations. The tests we'll be giving the first 3 weeks of October will be testing the items from the GLCE. It's amazing though how many really dumb questions are still left on statewide tests. I know it has to be like that elsewhere, and I'm definitely not trying to knock my state, because I think our Department of Education is really near the top in the nation.

The other thing that really bugs me about the state tests is how the results are often used to mudsling the schools. Yes, maybe improvements should possibly be made. But do you think there could be other factors involved? A lot of times the media don't have all the facts, or only use a portion of the facts and write the story. We all know this. I'm not saying that all schools are doing a fantastic job, but I do feel that schools in general receive a lot of negative press without the whole story or facts being portrayed.

I guess my main thought on the whole subject is that we don't grade or assess students on one test, but a lot of times a school is graded or assessed by the performance of one test, just like this.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Kris said...

If I taught in a school system I think I would despise the standardized testing. I agree with all your points.

Our state is one of those states where most schools fall "below proficiency" level. Schools will soon begin to lose funding if proficiency levels don't go up by a set percentage each year. The equations they use to derive these statistics are very complicated, taking into account the number of kids in an IEP, "high risk" students, special ed students, racial makeup, and the number of children who receive free lunches, among other things.

For some reason unknown to me, my son who takes one class, English Composition, at the local high school, is required to take the MAP tests. Each year the tests cover two subjects, I think. He took the science part last year.

He's currently taking Biology 101 at the local community college with grades in the upper 90's. His last MAP science score (keep in mind he doesn't even take science at the public school) indicated his score was in the 99th percentile, yet he was labeled as "nearing proficiency". In other words, according to state standards, failure! I'm not sure why they'd use a score from a homeschooled student to measure the success of the school, though.

Before the new testing, the standardized tests he took in middle school also showed his scores in the upper percentiles. But then they viewed the scores as an indicator of teaching success and student achievement... not failure.

What's the diference? Have the standards changed? Have the tests changed? Or both maybe?

My son is very advanced in science, having mastered college-level chemistry and currently studying college-level biology. He has studied electronics, created and built a Tesla Coil from scratch, designed a circuit board to power a flyback driver, has experimented with electroplating objects with different metal compositions, and much, much more. He is NOT "nearing proficiency"! The average test scores for most of his college biology tests are in the 60's and he scores in the 90's! Obviously the state's standardized testing does not accurately reflect his "proficiency".

At any rate, many teachers are now primarily teaching to the tests. It's becoming more important that students become "proficient" on the tests than whether they actually learn.

Another long ramble.... I need to stay away from blogs!.... LOL

One of the reasons I admire you as a teacher is your ability to transcend so many of the flaws in the system that would cause many other teachers to become discouraged and bitter. Somehow you manage to "keep the main thing, the main thing": the student. I value your experience and knowledge as a teacher and consider myself one of your "students."

p.s. Thank you for being open to my opinions; another sign of your admirable intentions. One teacher once left me a comment that "homeschoolers are the bane of every thinking person's existence."


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