Thursday, April 16, 2009

Measuring Growth?

Schools across the country have been struggling with performance problems on government mandated standardized tests. One approach administrators around the country are pushing is to change how you report performance. There is a big movement towards "standards-based report cards."

Here is a link to one online article with a rosy view of standards-based report cards. There is some balance in this New York Times article on standards-based report cards: Report Cards Give Up A’s and B’s for 4s and 3s by WINNIE HU, March 24, 2009.

Two points caught my attention in the NYT article. (1) Children were crushed by low marks in the beginning of the year because the report cards measured growth instead of achievement. They were compared to what they were supposed to know by the end of the year, so half way through the year they are scoring 50%, or 2.0 on a 4.0 scale. (2) The article mentioned 39 skills being measured on one report card. The other article mentions a school with 54 skills being measured.

So measuring growth with standards-based report cards can be depressing to children and way too complicated for the teachers to realistically use.

When my daughter was in 2nd grade they gave her a math test on the first day to measure her performance on a test that was going to be administered at the end of the year. They tested her on material she had not been taught. She was depressed and thought she was not good in math. I asked why they did that and was told this was how they decided to measure growth. Boy, was that stupid!

Standards-based report cards are a bureaucrat's fantasy. Beware of efforts to measure growth.

Changing our children's report cards to standards-based report cards will be an expensive, confusing, wasteful mess.

And efforts to change the TAKS test are a waste of time and money. Either the TEA succeeds in discovering a method to raise the scores of under-performing schools, or the State Legislature admits defeat and abandons standardized testing.

Our options with TAKS testing are simple: success or failure.

Efforts to change either the test or the testing measurements are a deception. Remember there are businesses that profit from testing and they don't want testing to ever stop or become stable. They love selling tests. They love being paid to rewrite tests. Testing has become a racket that raids our pockets.

Our Legislators are enslaving us to Pearson.

Plano needs a member on the Board of Trustees that is not going to sell out to big business. Plano needs a a member on the Board who can cut through the baloney and make decisions that will help your child instead of helping big business.

Vote for Robert Canright

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