Posts tagged "standardized testing"
July 13, 2012
A spokesman for the New York State Education Department confirmed this morning that the test score announcement is scheduled to be made on Tuesday, July 17, barring there are no technical difficulties like the ones that delayed last year’s release.
The release is also earlier in the summer because students took the grades 3 through 8 tests two weeks earlier than normal (and immediately after students returned from spring break). The advanced timing was planned in order to put new teacher evaluation requirements in place. Twenty percent of a teacher’s rating on the evaluations will be based on scores from the state tests.
The annual announcement is a highly-anticipated event that education officials typically use to mark their progress. Prior to 2010, it had become easy to predict that the event would be an occasion for education officials to point to gains. (more…)
June 7, 2012
The parents and children who attended the rally came from some of the 61 elementary and middle schools where anti-testing activists said families were boycotting “field tests” from Pearson, which began on Tuesday.
Over 400 parents and children protested Pearson’s field tests, which are intended to help design future tests.The company has a $32 million state contract to produce tests.
Parents at the protest — many from the Upper West Side, Brownstone Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan — said they are fed up with the number of tests that their children have to take. Parent organizations such as Change the Stakes, Time Out From Testing, and Parent Voices New York helped build support against the field tests.
“We organized classroom by classroom, school by school,” said Michael Ravitch, a parent from P.S. 321 in Brooklyn. “Many of these parents haven’t been politically involved before but everyone shares this feeling and needed an outlet to express their disgust for these useless and meaningless tests that are eating up the resources of these schools and wasting our children’s time.”
“I thought maybe there’d be 50 people here,” said Ravitch, who is the son of vocal education activist, Diane Ravitch. ”I hope that this is just the beginning.” (more…)
May 22, 2012
A group of parents and teachers are once again preparing to opt their children out of state tests, this time when their schools will administer “field” exams in over a thousand elementary and middle schools across the city next month.
Field testing allows test makers to gauge the value of future test questions. Pearson, the company that currently makes New York’s state tests, is preparing a slew of new questions that are aligned with new learning standards known as the Common Core. This spring’s field tests focus on science, math, or reading, depending on the grade level. Students in selected schools already took the science test in mid-May, which was for grades 4 and 8. The math and reading tests are scheduled for the first week of June.
The parents and teachers, who are part of the Change the Stakes coalition, are calling on parents to protest the testing, which will be administered on behalf of Pearson Education, the test publisher that famously drew criticism for the “pineapple” test questions on the state’s eighth-grade English exam in April.
“This is just research for the company,” said Tony Kelso, whose third-grader is supposed to take the reading field test at Amistad Dual Language School in Inwood.
Kelso added that he doubted Pearson would get useful information from the tests. “My understanding is that the tests aren’t even reliable. The students know they won’t count so they don’t take them seriously,” he said. (more…)
April 20, 2012
State education officials said this afternoon that they’re tossing out six questions related to the now-famous “Hare and the Pineapple” passage that appeared this week on the state’s eighth grade English exams.
In a statement, Commissioner John King said that due to the “ambiguous nature of the test questions” from the passage, students wouldn’t be penalized – or awarded – points on the final scoring of the exams.
But King also defended the passage, saying it wasn’t as confusing as it has been presented publicly so far. King, who appeared in Brooklyn this afternoon at Clara Barton High School to hear from students enrolled in a medical pathways program that partners with SUNY Downstate Medical Center, offered another reason the tests weren’t counting.
“The questions make much more sense in the context of the full passage than the excerpts that folks have seen,” King said. ”But given the press coverage we won’t be able to use those particular questions.” (more…)
March 15, 2012
The state’s system for pursuing allegations of test fraud is disorganized, outdated and ill-equipped to root out cheating, according to a independent auditor’s findings released today.
wA four-month, self-imposed audit into the State Education Department’s current test integrity policies found nearly two dozen areas where the department was deficient in dealing with claims where cheating could have occurred on state tests. The audit came months after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged state commissioners across the country to scrutinize their test integrity practices following a spate of cheating scandals.
Among the recommendations made by the auditor, Hank Greenberg, was the creation of a new top-level office called the “Test Security Unit.” Officials said the office will be budgeted with $1 million annually to staff a team of seven investigators with backgrounds in law enforcement and law to deal with cheating allegations on a daily basis.
For the first time, state investigators will proactively seek out suspicious testing trends through data forensics and conduct their own probes, a change that Greenberg called a “paradigm shift.”
No office previously existed solely to investigate allegations and the audit’s findings suggest that SED does not have a realistic grasp for how widespread the cheating problem is. Until now, charges were logged and tracked through an antiquated paper-based system in an office that was ill-equipped to handle test integrity issues. Investigations were left up to local school districts, which had little incentive to comprehensively conduct such probes.
SED received fewer than 100 allegations per year from 2006-2011 and verified half of them, Greenberg said. (more…)
March 14, 2012
Funding for statewide erasure analysis and other test security measures was omitted from early drafts of the 2012-2013 budget, meaning a major initiative by the state education department could be shelved indefinitely.
Back in October, the Board of Regents signed off on a plan to request $2.1 million in the 2012-2013 budget for erasure analysis as part of changes to address concerns that state tests were not secure. State education officials lobbied the Governor’s office for the funding, but when Cuomo released his $132.5 billion preliminary budget in January, the line item was not included.
Funding for the initiatives was also left out of budget proposals submitted this week by the Assembly and Senate.
“The legislature said it’s obviously not a priority for them,” SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins said of the test security proposals.
Every spring, state agencies lobby Cuomo’s budget office for their legislative priorities. In addition to funding for test security, SED officials also wanted a budget amendment to reduce costs and shorten the length of time it takes to complete disciplinary hearings for tenured teachers, a wish that Cuomo granted.
The omission of test security proposals came at the same time as Cuomo used the budget process to push districts and teachers unions to accept an evaluation system that makes test scores a part of teacher ratings.
Some legislators said test security got short shrift during the budgetary process.
“As more and more importance is placed on state tests, there needs to be real reform: higher quality tests, better formats, and improved test integrity,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “The only way to improve the quality of the tests and the integrity of the scoring is to invest more dollars to move beyond oversimplified multiple choice, and to professionalize assessment.” (more…)
April 28, 2011
A push to get more students to take the city’s gifted and talented test this year paid off: over a thousand more students took the citywide admissions tests this year, with the overall number rising to 39,160 from 38,015 last year.
But the outreach efforts did not increase the number of students admitted to the program’s most selective citywide programs. In fact, the number of students who qualified for the citywide programs declined. The number of students who qualified for the less selective district-based gifted and talented programs, which require slightly lower test scores for admission, did increase, growing by 319 students from last year.
The racial and family income backgrounds of the students whose test scores made them eligible for gifted and talented were not immediately available.
The city sent letters to qualifying students this morning, whose families now get to list the programs they prefer and hope for a spot in the program of their choice.
A place in the citywide programs is not guaranteed. Last year, 1,788 kindergartners qualified for about 300 seats. This year, the number of kindergartners making the cutoff is slightly larger, though the overall number of students who qualified for the citywide programs dropped by 149 students. (more…)
September 10, 2010
The difference between being anti-testing and being anti-today’s testing regime can sometimes get glossed over. But the wide space between the two positions was demonstrated damningly in a paper published this spring.
Written by two vehement advocates for the national tests now under construction, the paper is mainly a blueprint for what a re-imagined national testing system could look like. But it begins with a succinct, damning description of what its authors call our current “testing bind”:
Though no one intended to do so, we have created a testing bind that, as it tightens, drives attention away from the intended standards. The effects are greatest in the poorest schools. The nation’s current approach to raising achievement and increasing equity in the education system is having an effect opposite from the intended one. It is trapping poor children in a basic‐skills teaching program that gives them little chance to acquire the deeper knowledge and abilities we seek for everyone. And it may be lowering the learning opportunities even for many more privileged children as schools turn their energies to the test‐based basic skills program.
The paper, “An American Examination System,” is written by two people who may very well have a hand in shaping the new testing regime: University of Pittsburgh professor Lauren B. Resnick, who helped draft the “common core” standards endorsed by President Obama and many states, and Wireless Generation CEO Larry Berger, whose company is likely to make a bid to build the technological pieces of the national tests that will be tied to those standards. (more…)
August 3, 2010
What goes on at McGraw-Hill, the mysterious Midtown company that makes New York’s state tests? One answer: The company is not-so-quietly producing a slew of ratings lambasted for being inflated, corrupt, and totally bankrupt.
I don’t mean more state test scores. I mean credit ratings churned out by Standard and Poor’s, the ratings agency that makes up nearly half of the company’s business, according to CNBC.
Yes, that’s the same ratings agency that has been criticized for inflating the value of companies from Enron to Bear Stearns.
One of the biggest criticisms of S&P and agencies like it is that their customers have an inherent interest in being rated highly. (more…)
June 10, 2010
Public school principals were told this morning how many of their students passed the state’s annual math and English exams and from what we’re hearing, the numbers aren’t pretty.
One principal wrote in to say that the percentage of his students who scored so low they didn’t meet promotion criteria has quadrupled since last year. On the English exam, his percentage of low-scoring students is more than ten times higher. Almost all of his special education students and most of his students who are recent immigrants didn’t pass the exams.
“It’s not like the kids have gotten dumber or the teachers worse, it’s just the tests are being looked at differently,” the principal said.
A Department of Education official confirmed that because the city and state set higher score cutoffs this year, fewer students will meet the standards for promotion to the next grade. As a result, the city expects that more students will be required to attend summer school this year.
“We are committed to raising the bar for our students, so we’re using preliminary results on this year’s tests to set higher promotional cut scores than last year,” said DOE spokesman Matt Mittenthal. “We will guarantee a seat to every student who requires summer school.”
“We’re going to have a huge summer school program now,” the principal said. “No question about that.”
Schools haven’t received their students’ raw scores — they only know whether a student met the promotion criteria or didn’t. See below for the DOE’s cutoff scores.