Archives for category: Testing

In displaying readiness for college, grade point average matters more than a score on a college admissions test like SAT or ACT. Even the testing companies acknowledge that this is the case. But they are businesses, and they compete with one another for numbers and dollars. So they are always on the lookout for new avenues by which to serve their customers (the colleges, not the students).

 

The ACT, Mercedes Schneider reports, will offer a new service to colleges (not to students). It will not only test the student, but it will give the college confidential advice about his or her readiness, based on subtest scores. This information will go to the college, but not to the student.

 

Schneider writes:

 

Thus, ACT is intentionally shifting its role from reporting test scores to advising postsecondary institutions regarding admissions decisions.

There’s more:

Students will not be privy to the advice ACT is offering regarding ACT’s predictions of student success. None of this info will be part of the student score report. Such info will be between ACT and postsecondary institutions.

And not only does ACT believe it has a right to both form and communicate its opinions of student success to colleges and universities; ACT is fine with forming some of its judgments based upon unverified, volunteered student self-report information.

 

So, get this. The students pay to be tested; ACT reports the results to the students and to colleges. But then ACT gives the colleges information about the students and recommends whether or not they should be accepted. This advice is not shared with the students who paid to be tested.

 

Does this strike you as outrageous? ACT is not your guidance counselor. What nerve!

Jeannie Kaplan discovers that Denver ranks #1 on a scorecard compiled by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, an outpost of corporate reform.

 

Denver has faithfully complied with most elements of the reformster agenda, but what has its compliance done for Denver students, she asks.

 

And she answers: nothing.

She writes:

“Way back in 1972 there was a committee whose acronym was CRP. CRP stood for Committee to Re-elect the President, who at the time was Richard M. Nixon. Because CRP became integrally involved in some creepy activities including Watergate, its acronym morphed into CREEP. A creepy committee funding some CREEPy goings on. (On a personal note, I worked at CBS News in Washington, D.C. during this time. While I thought some of the activities were CREEPy, I loved the political intrigue).

“Fast forward to 2015 and my continuing involvement with Denver Public Schools. Another creepy organization has touched my life: Center on Reinventing Public Education or (another) CRPE, a University of Washington research center funded in part by Bill and Melinda Gates. It turns out this creepy organization has provided the blueprint for all that is happening and has happened in DPS over the last ten years.

“This creepy CRPE has tried to lead us to believe that a business portfolio strategy can somehow be successful in the public education world. Strategies and phrases such as “risk management,” “assets,” “portfolio rebalancing and managing,” “ridding yourself of portfolio low performers,” “monoploy” dominate the conversations with these folks. And because DPS has been so successful and diligent in adopting these elements it has finally, finally, reached the top of a reformy chart. The problem with this achievement is that it only represents success as it relates to implementation of some convoluted business strategy.

“Remember, a portfolio strategy requires constant churn, for the investor is always ridding his portfolio of low-performing stocks while looking for higher performing ones. This may be a good strategy for business, but schools, children, families and teachers are not stocks and bonds. They should not be treated as such.

“And so far implementation of this strategy has had virtually no impact on improving educational opportunities or outcomes for Denver’s children. So after being national exemplars for choice (or as I like to call it chaos), funding, talent (see here and here for Chalkbeat’s take) and accountability, Denver Public Schools still shows no growth in 2014 standardized tests. Proficiencies across the district slog along at 57% for reading, 47% for math, and 44% for writing with achievement gaps increasing in each subject. Even with a slight increase ACT scores are still only 18.4 (a 26 is needed to enter the University of Colorado) and the overall graduation rate is still at only 62.8%. Sadly, even after ten years, DPS has failed to transfer implementation into outcomes.”

Press Conference June 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm, City Hall Steps, Néw York City

Justice, Not Just Tests

Jesse Turner, Walking from Connecticut to Washington, D.C.

With Councilman Danny Dromm

Jesse “The Walking Man” Turner is walking from Connecticut to Washington D.C. this summer to protest the education malpractice that is demoralizing parents and teachers, and turning our children into human capital. It is a grassroots campaign to connect the dots across states and bring awareness to the testing abuse that is demoralizing children and their teachers. Jesse, a professor of literacy at Central Connecticut State University, is holding Walking Man Events along the way in people’s homes, libraries, coffee shops, churches, and on street corners, to gather evidence from parents, students, and teachers.

Jesse will hold a press conference with Councilman Danny Dromm on the NYC City Hall steps at 3:00 on June 24, 2015. He will be joined by representatives of Change the Stakes and several other organizations concerned with the quality of our public schools.

Why I Walk?

1. I am a Professor of Literacy and everything I know professionally informs me what is happening to our children in the name of education reform is child abuse.

2. Because Moses walked, because the Cherokee walked, because the Navajo walked, because Martin walked, and because Cesar Chavez walked. Walking may just be the most potent weapon human beings have against oppression.

3. Because childhood matters.

4. Because children come first.

5. Simple concept: Testing is not
teaching.

6. Top down Education Reforms have always failed.

7. NCLB is the most massive Education Policy failure in the history of public education.

Press contact Rosalie Friend, (718) 965-4074, saveourschoolsnyc@gmail.com, for further information

A blogger has posted part 1 of Néw York state’s Regents test in algebra. The test has been aligned with the Common Core. Students must pass this test to graduate high school.

How many of the questions could you answer? How many do you think the members if the Néw York Boardof Regents could answer? How many could members of the State Legislature answer? How many could the editorial writers of the nation answer? How many could Arne Duncan answer?

I wish all those who love tests like this would take it and publish their scores.

Julian Vasquez Heilig urges you to watch Shannon Puckett’s “Defies Measurement.” Like Peter Greene, he says it is a terrific film about the way that corporate reformers are destroying public education.

 

I watched it too. It is a comprehensive look at corporate reform and how it destroyed one very successful school. It is now destroying thousands of public schools that are the heart of their communities.

 

The film is online and free.

Complaints are pouring in about the New York Regents examination in algebra, which all students must pass in order to graduate. It is now aligned with the Common Core, so it is very “rigorous.” Most students know that they are likely to fail. There are many reports of students in tears, and teachers in despair. What will New York do about the clog in the pipeline? What if most students can’t pass the exam and can’t graduate? Will they remain in high school until they drop out? Ideas? Anyone?

 

The common theme shared by parents and teachers was that any test that children will likely fail that determines their future is abusive, and that when most children leave an exam in tears something is very wrong. And don’t forget that this incredibly flawed exam will also count toward teacher evaluation, thereby prejudicing and harming teachers as well.

The latest poll shows that most Hoosiers want a new governor. 54% want a new governor. Less than a third say they want to re-elect Pence.

Two issues loom over Pence. One was his early support (and then retraction) for a bill that would have allowed people to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation (it was only when major corporations threatened to leave Indiana that Pence changed his views on the bill). The other is education, where Pence has continued hhis predecessor Mitch Daniels’ agenda of privatizing public education.

Go, Hoosiers! Get a new governor who cares about children, public schools, and the future of Indiana and the nation!

Richard Ham, a third grade teacher in Poulsbo, Washington, wrote the following dystopian science fiction (education fiction?) about the aftermath of the Presidential election of 2028. It is frightening and hilarious.

 

 

April 17, 2028
The Associated Press
The American public education reform wars are finally over. President Arne Duncan took the oath of office in January as this nation’s 49th president and in his inauguration speech he praised the efforts over the past 30 years of big business, corporate testing corporations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and all the others responsible for what, in his words, amounted to a “cleansing of wishy-washy liberal teaching practices, unionism as an obstructive force in public schools and of incompetent, overpaid public school teachers doing great and terrible damage to this fine Nation’s school children.” He pledged that his newly appointed Secretary of Education, Michelle Rhee, will finish the job started so long ago and fine-tune and perfect the few rough spots that remain in bringing “rational public and pedagogical policy-making” into American classrooms.
In this spirit Secretary Rhee held a major press conference to herald the completion of the reform movement’s final masterpiece of high-stakes testing and accountability. The Secretary proudly presented the Pearson Corporation’s new third grade test as an example of this brave new world that American education has entered. Below is the third grade test, titled the SimBA, in its entirety.
The SimBA
THE SMARTASS (IM)BALANCED C.C.S.S.* ASSESSMENT for 3rd Grade
*Common Core Corporate Standards
MATHEMATICS: The Reimann Hypothesis dealing with prime numbers is one of the unsolved Millennium Prize problems, first posited over 150 years ago and as yet unsolved despite the best efforts of some of this past century’s finest mathematical minds. You are not expected to prove or disprove this hypothesis per se, but nevertheless do establish the initial parameters of the structure of such a proof (or disproof). Construct such parameters with enough mathematical sufficiency so that the next three steps in such an analysis can be logically and empirically demonstrated. Then do both of your multiplication and division facts in a 2-minute timing for each.
Time: 25 minutes
MUSIC: Write a concerto for a 4-piece chamber string quartet. Provide a final, clean copy of the sheet music for your composition, free from any stray notational errors. Finally, perform your composition in real time in front of a live audience.
Time: 40 minutes for composition; 10 minutes for performance
ART: Develop a new school of art, melding both traditional and modern elements using multi-media in such a design paradigm. Create at least three examples from your new art school, and host a gallery showing of your creations.
Time: 20 minutes for creation of new art form; 15 minutes for creation of examples; 10 minutes for gallery showing
[Break: 23 minutes total; 3 minutes for potty visit, 5 minutes for snack, 15 minutes for recess]
HISTORY: The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana is famously credited with saying that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In a 20-25 page essay argue either pro or con for this thesis, citing at least three eras in both ancient and modern history where this proposition can be proven to be either true or false. Note: The essay is to contain appropriate cites in standard citation form.
Time: 20 minutes
READING: Read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the complete works of William Shakespeare. Then write a report comparing and contrasting how the authors handle the structural themes of tragedy and comedy in their respective works.
Time: 40 minutes
WRITING: Write a novella of no more than 80 pages from any of the following genres: mystery, general fiction, Western, historical, romance or fairy tale. Extra credit will be given if you also write a play in the dramatic tragedy tradition of ancient Greece (see the works of Aeschylus or Euripides for guidance in how this might be done).
Time: 25 minutes
SCIENCE: Sketch a timeline of the history of the quantum dynamic elements of the universe from the inception of the Big Bang until the present day era. Extra credit will be given if you can provide correlational elements of such a quantum history with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, especially noting how gravity unites both the quantum and relativistic worlds. Further extra credit will be given if you build a table-sized cyclotron to test your hypothesis using yellowcake uranium. Such yellowcake uranium is available from the Atomic Energy Commission for a small fee; please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery before the testing date.
Time: 20 minutes

Congratulations! Your testing for this year is over. Please go to lunch. And have a great day!

Patrick Walsh, a teacher and blogger in New York City, reviewed Mercedes Schneider’s “Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education.” I missed the review when it first appeared last fall, so am reporting it to you now because it remains timely. Walsh says it is one of the three most important books to read about “reform” today.

 

He writes that if the “reformers” succeed,

 

“…the U.S. public school system, the backbone of American public life, could well be but a memory in another 10 years. The noble art of teaching, which has sustained civilization since the days of Socrates, could well be reduced to a temp job or, at best, a micromanaged performance both scripted and judged by an international corporation like Pearson—which has, over the past decade, evolved from publishing textbooks to producing curriculum, making and grading tests, and in some states is involved in teacher certification—or worse.

 

Who are these people? How did they amass such power over a “public” institution of such magnitude?

 

In “A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education,” Mercedes K. Schneider sets out to answer those questions. She does so with fierce intelligence, wit, an ocean of unearthed facts, and a vengeance. Schneider, who in very short order has established herself as one of the nation’s most profound and prolific education bloggers, has taught for 19 years in many grades in four states and is currently teaching high school English in St. Tammany Parish, La.

 

You can sense her pride in her profession in every word she writes, as well as her righteous rage toward those who would defile it. Schneider is also a Ph.D. in applied statistics and research methods, which, for people who like to bury information and obscure reality with numbers, makes her a force to be reckoned with….

 

The book is as much a modern day bestiary as a chronicle. With the exception of former TV anchorwoman Campbell Brown, recently catapulted to privatization super-stardom, Schneider misses no person and no organization of note. They are all there, all the names conscientious teachers have heard of but whose stories were rendered as hagiographies or remained hidden as a hedge fund. Until now. Here are the stories of economists like Eric Hanushek; the entrepreneurs David Coleman and Eva Moskowitz; the professional think tank thinkers like Chester Finn and Hess; the hedge fund manager messiahs Whitney Tilson and his Democrats for Education Reform (DFER); the “radicals” like Rhee and Wendy Kopp; and, above and beneath all, the limitless coffers of the Gates, Broad and Walton foundations. And, of course, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Schneider shows again and again how they are all linked. Brilliant at uncovering the incestuous forces fueling the entire privatization campaign, she discovers the same few names popping up all over the terrain.

 

Walsh says that “A Chronicle of Echoes” is “an extraordinary achievement.” Dream this: Imagine if every education reporter in the mainstream media read this book.

 

A parent in New Jersey heard the news that Governor Chris Christie had decided to abandon Common Core. Apparently that is good politics today. Governor Christie is against the Common Core. But he favors keeping the Common Core-aligned PARCC tests. Is that good politics? Does it even make sense? This parent doesn’t think so.

 

 

 

He wrote the following letter to legislators:

 

Dear Senate Education Committee:

 

Last night I attended a friend’s absurd annual party where we sit around drinking, laughing, and betting on the National Spelling Bee (which this year came to an incredible draw). I ended up down about $10. In this age of spellcheck, I (somewhat facetiously) can’t think of any more useless talent than knowing how to spell, but that did not stop me from lovingly asking my 12-year-old daughter this morning why she can’t be as smart as those kids (she is, even though her spelling is atrocious).

 

Last weekend in Livingston during the Youth Appreciation Week activities, the student members of the Livingston High School Robotics Club presented ingenious working 3D Printers that they designed and built.

 

I don’t know whether those kids are ready for college or career. I pray that they never find out until they get there.

 

The prior Monday, at the Senate Education Committee hearing, we finally heard from some people (all parents of children at North Star Academy [a charter school]) who felt that they had benefited from PARCC. There was a heavier-set gentleman who worked in the community, a father and son, two women who were unable to read aloud the words that were prepared on their behalf on the papers before them, and one lively woman who spoke of being $100,000 in school debt and of the pride and sense of accomplishment that her son felt when he prepared for, focused on, and took the PARCC Exam.

 

The problem is that the suburban parents of the students who set the standards on standardized tests… they largely do not believe that pursuit of those standards is a worthy goal. I cannot imagine what it is like to live in a community that has been wracked by socio-economic malaise for generations. If the PARCC Exam served that community by demonstrating the rewards that come with focus and goals, then PARCC may have had a sliver of value as one tool in the infinite quiver. However, that sense of focus and accomplishment… that can be learned in music, in arts, in the scientific method of exploration, in language, in mathematics, in athletics, in making history come alive, in studying the dictionary, or in designing and building your own 3D printer. The Pursuit of Happiness and The Pursuit of Excellence are intertwined as both individual and team pursuits. To force anyone year over year over year to reach for the subjective levels of “excellence” set by others seems as silly as it is inhumane (especially when the students of Newark have as of late so boldly set new standards of excellence for public advocacy).

 

We should thank the Governor for his strong leadership in abandoning the Common Core. It is silly to impose a common set of standards on students across the board because to do so distracts us from actually addressing the needs of each community and each child as an individual. A common set of standards subverts the tried and true simple method of Observation. Profit motives probably got in the way. If we are going to impose standards, they should be actionable standards… standards for facilities… standards for staffing… standards for programming (how about every fourth grader in the South visits the Liberty Bell and every fifth grader in the North visits the Statue of Liberty?). The standard is, “Nothing worse than we would want for our own children.” Every school should be teaching coding and have a robotics club. Every school should have a school library brimming with new books (and yes, even dictionaries). Every school should serve the needs of the Community. These are actionable standards. They are investments that we can ill-afford NOT to make.

 

The Purpose of Education is to create active and engaged citizens… citizens who may pull from their vast experiences across the liberal arts to address and solve today’s problems while being prepared for tomorrow’s concerns. There is no reason why The People of The Garden State cannot lead the country in those efforts. It will take months of hard work to overcome years of misfeasance and malfeasance. We should all be thankful that we get to start together on Monday. We have unlimited potential for Growth.

 

Thank you to the Senate Education Committee for its leadership.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Justin Escher Alpert
Livingston, New Jersey

 

P.S. Perhaps we ought to welcome each of those North Star parents back in front of the Senate Education Committee to testify in the safe space… in their own words… about their real struggles and needs. Perhaps PARCC had only scratched the surface. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of The People, and they have the right at all times to alter or reform the same, whenever the Public Good may require it. Let us commit to each other that that time is NOW.

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