State Testing: The Ultimate Solution

End of the WorldWe’re can’t even agree on WHAT we should be measuring – which subjects, which skills, and at what level. Should we one day solve that (we won’t), we’ll still have to reach some sort of consensus HOW we can evaluate whatever it is with any sort of accuracy or consistency (we can’t) – and all at lowest-bidder prices.

Fear not, my Eleven Faithful Followers – for I am about to reveal to you the final truth regarding this matter. I am confident my solution is both eloquent and attainable, for that is how I roll. You might want to sit down for this.

10 Lessons Learned from Common Core Testing

Students Testing The Journal recently posted a fascinating list: "10 Lessons Learned from the Assessment Field Tests - Schools and districts that took part in the PARCC and Smarter Balanced trial runs share their experiences to help you prepare for online testing this spring."

If you're one of my Eleven Faithful Followers, you know I'm not particularly anti-Common Core. Oklahoma’s not even a Common Core state this month. Still, I work enough in surrounding states which ARE that I thought it would be worth perusing. And… oh my god. The list… it’s… well, irony is dead to say the least. All ten are the same lesson, repeated without irony or complaint - “Spend More Time and Resources Hyper-Focused on Computer-Based Testing.”

Assessments & Grades - Why?

Like the standardized testing of students on which many of these numbers and letters are based, the conviction seems to be that if you just keep pretending to measure things in ridiculously oversimplified ways designed to guarantee widespread failure, you’re “reforming” the system and calling forth a brighter future for all. This is analogous to – actually, never mind the analogy. It’s just stupid.

In Defense of Due Dates & Deadlines

I hear repeatedly from otherwise respected voices that it really shouldn't matter WHEN students do the assigned reading, master the required skill, absorb the expected content, as long as they GET it some day in their own special time and way - my shoulders tighten and my stomach hurts. I appreciate the theory, but education reformers and ideologists aren't known for being bound by the same reality as the rest of us.

If reforms were horses, then students would ride... and teachers would walk behind them in the parade.

He Tests... He Scores!

In a few days, I'll be entering final grades for this semester. I hate it. I try to be firm - you get what you get – but in reality I’ll end up browsing the final scores of each class, noting especially which students ended up a few points away from a different letter grade one way or the other.

What exactly am I attempting to measure here? Is it how much they've done? How far they've come? How well they've met state curriculum expectations? What they can DO decently in terms of social studies skills? Effort? Cooperation? Whether or not they're a huge pain in the @**? What am I measuring each time I give one of these 'grades'?