The Seattle teachers’ rebellion & the flawed test that inspired it
February 10, 2013
High school teachers in Seattle are saying no to the spread of high-stakes standardized tests. On January 10, the staff of Garfield High School voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to their ninth-grade students. For two weeks they’ve held firm, even as the superintendent of schools has threatened them with a 10-day unpaid suspension, and teachers at other schools have joined their boycott.
“Garfield has a long tradition of cultivating abstract thinking, lyrical innovation, trenchant debate, civic leadership, moral courage and myriad other qualities for which our society is desperate, yet which cannot be measured, or inspired, by bubbling answer choice ‘E.’” wrote Garfield High history teacher Jesse Hagopian in a Seattle Times op-ed.
Garfield High’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association and the student government have issued statements backing the teachers, and their union, the Seattle Education Association (an affiliate of the National Education Association) has been holding phone banks and rallies in support. NEA president Dennis van Roeckel called the teachers’ stand a “defining moment within the education profession.”
The boycott has become national news and attracted support around the country; a letter in solidarity with the teachers has been signed by close to 5000 educators, authors, and activists including former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities, Deborah Meier of the Coalition of Essential Schools and Pedro Noguera of New York University. The American Federation of Teachers posted a letter of support from president Randi Weingarten on its Facebook page.
Jean Anyon, professor of social and educational policy at the City University of New York Graduate Center and a supporter of the boycott, called what the Seattle teachers are doing “amazing.” “There have been very few groups that have decided to defy these tests,” she pointed out. “In terms of an outright boycott by a school, if it’s not the first it’s close to it.”
The tests, Anyon noted, are notoriously unreliable, with results varying from year to year and nearly impossible to replicate.
Ira Shor, professor of rhetoric and composition at CUNY Graduate Center, who writes on composition theory and urban education, commented, “The tests themselves are known as ‘junk science’ because of their pseudo-scientific basis in metrics while they notoriously produce unreliable, unreproducible, and even faked results. Yet these tests are used to judge what students know and how well teachers are doing their job.”
These tests, he explained, emerged around World War I as “intelligence” tests for the US Army. Public schools took them up at a time when dropout rates were high among working-class students and young people were “sorted” into tracks, pushing working-class students into vocational programs while the more elite students were tracked for more rigorous academic work. During the Cold War, students were tested more rigorously, but the ’60s and ’70s saw pushback from social movements on the way education was set up. But, Shor noted, for the last 40 years, there has been a strenuous public relations campaign pushing for more testing — more “accountability” to keep American students “competitive.”
“The long attack on public education and the public sector amounts to a culture war where the first prize is public opinion,” he said.
The MAP test is a particularly egregious example of the problems with standardized testing. It was acquired by the former Seattle Schools superintendent while she was on the board of the company that sells it; a state audit in 2011 found that she committed a serious ethics violation by not disclosing this fact when the school district spent about $4 million on the test. Ninth- and tenth-graders in Seattle already take five additional tests, required by the state, and 11th- and 12th-graders take three. The MAP is not required by the state and doesn’t affect students’ grades, but it is used to evaluate teachers, who point out that students are unlikely to take the test seriously, so educational time is being diverted for tests used simply to punish educators.
[South Korea] The National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that aims to prevent Korean students from taking school courses beyond their regular academic schedule.
Rep. Kang Eun-hee of the Saenuri Party, who proposed the bill with Rep. Lee Sang-min of the Democratic Party, said Korean students are often forced to study subjects for subsequent semesters in advance at school or private institutes, known as hagwon. The widespread practice, even involving elementary school students, is meant to boost their chances for admission to elite schools.
The excessive competition leads to more difficult entrance exams by higher level education institutes, which in turn pushes students to study more courses in advance. Rep. Kang said the practice is a main factor driving up the already heated private education system in Korea, spawning a profitable market valued at 19.4 trillion won ($17.9 billion) per year.
BBC News report about Intense education system in South Korea.
I was curious about how many students in my college know what standardized testing is, how much do they know about it, and how do they think about evaluating students based on the test scores. I did a brief survey by randomly picking 65 students on campus.
I gave them two questions: “Do you know what standardized testing is?” and “Do you support evaluating students based on their test score?”
The result shows that 78% of students answered they know exactly what standardized testing is, and can explain it right away. 22% of students answered that they know what it is but not certain, and 0% of students answered they don’t know what it is.
For the answer for the second question, I asked responders to choose high numbers between scales of 1-5, depends on how much they are against evaluating student via test score. As a result, 8% of students choose scale five, 20% of students choose scale four, 46% of student choose scale three, 26% of students choose scale two, and 0% choose scale one.
More parents are fed up with a school culture they say relies too heavily on testing
Concerned about a culture of over-testing in schools, a growing number of parents in Nashville, Tenn. — and nationwide — are opting their children out of standardized testing. So far this year, 22 students in Nashville schools — primarily elementary schools — have taken the opt-out route. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would give parents the right to opt students out of testing.
Standardized testing system will evaluate students, teachers, and schools only based on their test scores, and ignore other sides of them. We can’t evaluate them by looking just one part of them since everyone has strength and weakness.
These are the cartoons that well shows the problem of standardize testing system that I found in the internet.
" … it’s changed in recent years. It’s all about these tests…. It’s this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions…. these questions btw were not written by her teacher. they were on a standardized test. written by pearson or whoever the hell."
===Anti-Common Core and standardized testing advocates have found an unlikely ally in comedian Louis C.K. The celebrity took to Twitter Monday to rail against the Common Core State Standards, a new set of education guidelines that have been adopted i…