This has to be the coolest app ever. Create a quiz on Quick Key and then you can print out a bubble sheet. Snap a picture of the quiz with your iphone and it will grade it for you! Wow. Just remember that if all you do is bubble in - you're probably not testing very well. Hat tip to Richard Byrne's Awesome Facebook page for this one! (Free Technology for Teachers)
Remember one thing as you look at these scores - not all students are tested in many countries and in many countries only the brightest go to school. In my opinion, these tests have some serious flaws.
For example, I don't play cricket - my scores would be low -- I don't know that I'm so upset about that. While math, science, and reading are important -- standards vary greatly between countries -- so unless we're going to prep for PISA scores. Also on another note -- comparing "Shanghai to nations makes me wonder - I'm sure there are certain cities in the US that would do very well on such a test. Anyway, I want to look deeper, but I think before we rattle cages and get too upset, the report should be looked at deeply but not only the report - but the test. I remember getting upset that my kindergartener scored in the 60th percentile on "environment" only to see that he missed that a judge was supposed to be a guy in a grey wig (who does that) and couldn't identify a subway turnstile (we live in a town of 5,000). Since that time, I always want to see the test. Lots of people will be talking about this so look at it and be prepared to answer questions. This is the post from Aljazeera so you can see what other countries are saying about the report.
"Asian countries have topped the rnakings in a global education report which evaluates the knowledge and skills of 15 and 16-year-olds around the world.
The report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), published on Tuesday, shows that children from Asian nations continue to outshine their western counterparts in maths, science and reading.
The city of Shanghai topped the table in the three-yearly reported which tested more than 510,000 students in 65 countries. Children in Shanghai were, on average, the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling ahead of the majority of nations tested."
Pernille Ripp's poignant post shares why more teachers don't refuse to give the tests. Unless it is done en masse, it can't really be done. That said, parents can refuse to have their children take the test without repercussions and in fact, a national opt out movement is brewing.
"If I were to refuse administering these state mandated tests, I would get in trouble. That is an absolute guarantee. And while I have never been one to shy away from too much controversy, the kind of trouble this time would be much bigger than a write up. I could even lose my job for failing to do my duties. To some that may not seem like a big deal, after all, I should be standing up for my students and their rights, my own opinions, I should protect those children that I teach from the tests. But my job is vital to my own children. My job is our health insurance. My job gives us just enough money so that we can pay our bills. I wish my husband had a huge paying job, he doesn’t, and so we are a very dependent two income family. So losing my job refusing tests just isn’t something I can rationally do and in a sense, I am not sure I should be the one refusing the tests anyway."
Grading handwritten answers by students as a feature of a copier? Producing data analytics as a result. IF this works, it will not only sell more copiers, but also make handwritten work more of a commodity. Maybe if a computer can quickly grade the easy stuff, teachers can spend more time assessing project based learning and other work that computers cannot do. This won't help me much - except when I teach binary numbers and memory conversion which do require me to check work (I never do multiple choice.) I could see how math teachers would be thrilled.
"Xerox later this year plans to roll out Ignite, a software and web-based service that turns the numerous copiers/scanners/printers it has in schools across the United States into paper-grading machines. Unlike such staples of the educational system as Scantron, which uses special forms where students choose an answer and fill in the corresponding bubble, Ignite will grade work where the answers are written in by the students, such as the numeric answer to a math problem.
Ignite takes right and wrong answers and turns them into web-accessible data for teachers with reports that say whether a student or groups of students are consistently having more trouble with certain kinds of math problems. Those reports can be used by teachers to tailor what they're teaching — such as by identifying what group of students needs more help with a certain topic — or given to students so they know where they should focus their studying. It also opens the door to specific tests or homework assignments for specific students becoming more the norm, each tailored to academic strengths and weaknesses."
I agree. Students who got to read the passages ahead of time had an advantage - of course, is anyone looking to see if there was a "hit" on other textbook passages - is this luck or is it corruption. Either way - it smells like corruption. There is a conflict of interest if you're testing and selling textbooks to help kids do better on testing.
"students who read the Pearson test before seeing it on the state test had the opportunity to fill the gaps in their own knowledge—whether through class discussion or simply by reading and answering the questions provided in the curriculum—before they took the test. And that means that the validity of a test that aims to differentiate between “good” and “poor” readers is necessarily called into question.
Unfortunately, it seems that New York education officials don’t realize how significant this problem is. Or even that it is a problem. (Meryl Tisch, New York Board of Regents chancellor, actually defended the quality of the assessments, boasting that, thanks to a rigorous new quality-control review, the Department of Education had avoided the kinds of problems that lead to last year’s now-famous pineapple scandal. And that failure to recognize what may be a far more serious and consequential challenge may be the biggest red flag that Common Core assessment decisions are in trouble in the Empire State."
I'm not partisan. There are some things that Aaron Maurer says in this post that make a lot of sense.
"What bothers me is this "punish the whole system method" employed in the education world. I agree that teachers need to be held accountable. However, I know that state test scores do not show what I teach. What happens in schools is that we never address the specific issues at hand. If a teacher is not doing their job, then call them out. Tell them, show them how they are messing up, and then give them a plan to improve. Help them with necessary skills. If they choose not to improve or they simply don't improve, then you let them go. No more of this keeping teachers for 30 years and for 30 years they have been bad. That affects too many children that need good quality teachers. Hold us accountable like we should be holding our students accountable."
"But even by reasonable standards, the nation’s educational outcomes are not in much better shape than they were in 1983. Whether we’re looking at overall scores or at achievement gaps, the trend lines for NAEP, the so-called Nation’s Report Card, generally show a post-reform picture that looks pretty much like the pre-reform picture – with positive trend lines but apparent slowing after 1990. There is no way to tease those data into showing that test-based accountability reform is accomplishing its key learning goals."
Texas is going to cut down testing. This is a wise move for many reasons. Some states are cutting out teachers and the same time increasing spending on test taking. Such decisions harm learning no matter what test you take.
"“Testing companies are in the business of making a profit, but let’s not confuse their mission — their mission is to create as many tests as they can and then grade them at as little cost as possible,” the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, said Tuesday at a hearing on a comprehensive education bill that would reduce the number of high-stakes tests students must pass to graduate."
Disgusting. Via the Washington Post So many things going wrong.
"Talk about corporate-based school reform. New high-stakes standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards are featuring plugs for commercial products. And the companies didn’t have to pay a penny.
Yes, New York state students who this past week took Pearson-designed exams were just treated to plugs for LEGO, Mug Root Beer and more products from at least half a dozen companies, according to the New York Post."
Fascinating article from a teacher thriving in the standardized testing environment. Fascinating.
"Last year, working with the same cohort of students (by then fifth graders), I tried to find more learning opportunities that focused on data. We used math websites like TenMarks that enable students to learn about their own learning even as they practice new skills. We analyzed information graphics and dove into ways of presenting numerical information. We explored how numbers shape our understanding of ourselves and the world. And much of their enthusiasm and curiosity for these tasks came out of their interest in numbers from standardized testing.
I've thus come to believe there's a role for standardized testing within education. As a limited portion of a multiple measure evaluation system, it helps teachers understand how well we've taught over the course of a year. It also helps students understand how much they mastered over that year and makes them agents in their own learning."
Very interesting read about affluence gaps (less in the US) and how the US is really suffering on PISA international tests because to students are dropping,
A school in seattle has parents, students, teachers refusing to administer the MAP test. Teacher Tom clearly shares why this is happening and why it is a good idea (the margin of error in the test is broad and it is being used to unfairly evaluate teachers.)
When tests are used to evaluate teachers, those tests should be accurate. Testing, also, should be the exception, not the rule, and overtesting is causing problems. At my school, while individual teachers have tests - everyone has just one standardized testing period a year - that is it. The students do very well and we move on. We have no pep rallies, we just let parents know to make sure their kids get rest and that's it.
Advertising adapts, shouldn't our learning? The theory behind is great, but perhaps it isn't well implemented yet. I wrote a piece for the New York Times a while back on Adaptive Testing. This piece in the MIT technology review is worth a read.
"By carefully logging students’ every action online, a company called Knewton says, it can personalize questions and lessons to help people learn faster. Skeptics say that’s not proven."
More cheating scandals begin to brew. When children transferring out of a school drop from 90th percentile to 30th - something is up and that may be test fraud. Read this new york times article and also, if you want to know how to find statistical anomalies that point to cheating - the first Freakonomics book is an essential read.
"According to The Times, last year P.S. 31′s “math scores were nearly perfect, and 90 percent of its students passed the English test, more than 40 points above the citywide average. To celebrate, staff members tied a sign to the building: ‘School Report Card P.S. 31 is #1 in New York City.’” The school has 550 students, in PreK to fifth grade.
At P.S. 257, where most of the preK to fifth-grade students are black or Hispanic and poor, “62 percent of the children at the school had a score of proficient or higher on the state English exam.”
There is a growing resistence to standardized testing as parents get organized, this New York Times article gives an overview of some of the things happening.
"Resistance also appears to be growing more organized. Groups like Change the Stakes are helping to spread information about opt-out procedures and have created a spreadsheet to help parents navigate the field testing landscape.
ParentVoicesNY has created a boycott form letter that parents can download, sign and then submit to their school. The group also has direct connections with more than 20 schools, according to Kevin Jacobs, a public school teacher who is one of its active members."
Parents are demanding more transparency in the tests. Think about it the Standard Aptitude Test or SAT that is taken to get into US colleges publishes at least one test a year. The AP tests are released afterwards. However, there is no such transparency in standardized tests given to kids. Parents are asking if what is being measured is even important. Because our teachers grade the tests by hand if we ask, we can see what questions our kids missed. I got upset when one of my children did poorly on the environment section, for example, when he was in K4. But then, I found he incorrectly identified a subway turnstile and a man with a gavel and GRAY WIG that was supposed to be a judge and decided I didn't care. We need transparency in our testing. It is an idea whose time has come. If something is that important, it is worth the scrutiny deserved by the amount of money spent on administering the tests.
In the UK, a very large selective authority admits that grammar school pupils favors wealthier children. The test has now caused schools to be warned against using the test because affluence plays a role in the results. Additionally, they imply that because of the influence of affluence that ethnicity is also a factor. Because coaching can have such an impact, and those with more money pay for coaching, it has been discredited. However, one could take this and apply it to the SAT in the US. I'm an SAT coach at my school and those who go through the process and take it seriously, do improve their scores much more. It is hard to remove affluence from influence but I think it is good to get this out on the table and let people know about it.
Great questions about the real importance of school and a child's success. I believe that there is always something that we can do to improve our child's education but perhaps it is that belief that I can do something that makes a difference - more of a difference than my child's school, even. The fact that when my child has trouble learning something, that we spend hours reviewing it until he can convert and add fractions or we buy books at the bookstore until we find something he loves to read (Captain Underpants, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid authors deserve my undying appreciation!) Great questions.
"What if it made no difference at all what school you went to? What if your academic success was determined by factors completely outside your school’s control - your parents’ wealth, your ethnicity, your prior attainment?
What if your child’s exam results could pretty much be predicted before you even began the race for a good place?
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