Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More Nonsense: Testing for Graduation

In regard to legislation ESSB 5414 to test student learning of the math standards with End of Course testing in Algebra and Geometry.

Many years ago when the School Accountability Movement began MIT economist Lester Thurow said:
It won't go anywhere if it is tied to high school graduation except to the absolute lowest common denominator possible.

Thurow stated that if the diploma and transcript had additional levels of accomplishment noted, then the schools could put programs in place to produce those improvements. He mentioned a "passed the federal standard idea" for specified individual subject areas, similar to merit badges.

I watched the WASL reading improvement scam from 2000-2005. The Scam evidence was in a comparison of grades 4, 7, & 10 rapidly rising WASL scores with flat grades 3, 6, 9 IOWA reading test scores. {WA testing of students using Iowa tests was discontinued after Spring 2005 .. leaving us out of contact with reality}

ESSB 5414 or not, there is no reason to believe anything different is ever going to happen.

There is no way that the Gov and the politicians are going to put a real test of the math standards in place with a cut score of 70% required for graduation. They would be tossed out of office and for good reason as this is a drop out plan for many pupils.
The schools should educate all the children.

We would be extremely fortunate if we could even get the following notations on the transcript and diploma of: below 50%, 50-59%, 60-69%, etc. for those EOCs on a really decent testing of the standards.

I think this is just foolishness to believe we will ever see a rigorous test of the math standards required for graduation (nor should there be one).

Currently we have testing accompanied by Collections of Evidence (for those who fail the testing) etc. which are in many cases just more make work nonsense that may drive math teachers out of teaching.

The job of teaching is made harder so that we can produce the fake results desired.
This is not to say that in 100% of cases the COE is not a worthwhile activity ... as they say results may vary.

What does not vary is that the game is run by politicians interested in saving face and re-election is far more important than producing significant measurable improvement and greatly improved school systems.

To produce real improvement requires uncoupling this testing from graduation.

Until that de-coupling occurs most of the effort will go into fudging results and photo op improvements.


The primary goal should be to improve the system of math education in WA schools. This could occur with the intelligent application of the relevant data from rigorous End of Course testing.

We need to find out what the children know and where successful programs are in place that produce positive results. Dr Bergeson and NCLB gave us nothing of use for math decision making. It looks like the current politicians will be unable to do any better.


Anonymous said...

I like what Thurow has to say about education - he has always been critical of standards-based reform and I think his reasoning has stood the test of time. Too bad more people didn't listen.

Anonymous said...

To me The No Child Left Behind Act is nonsense.These test are leaving a whole lot of children behind. Twelve years of school is enough it is not fair seeing high school children come so close having to take four test and dont graduate. I hope President Obama puts an end to this test. Give children there summer back.