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Tue Nov 19, 2013, 09:55 PM

Test Prep/Diagnostics Gone Wild?

My kidís school is employing an outside, private company to provide diagnostic tests. The purpose of the tests hasnít exactly been made clear to me, but I gather the goal is to identify the geniuses from the rabble, and perhaps, somehow, to improve school scores on the yearly, mandated state tests.

The diagnostics work on the basis that every correct answer deserves a more difficult question. For every correct response, a student is rewarded with a more complex question, until the child is completely overwhelmed, and crumbles from the strain. In short, the agony does not end until the student repeatedly gives wrong answers.

Here is a sample of what my fourth grader was expected to digest and respond to: seven pages from Great Expectations:
[IMG][/IMG]

And this gem from Ovid:
[IMG][/IMG]

I repeat, my child was in fourth grade when she took this test.

After the testing I did something I never thought I would do. I explained to my kid that the next time these tests are given, she can pull the plug when she sees fit. Just start giving random answers. With enough wrong answers, the test will stop. Somehow, this seems saner than asking her to agonize over questions that are clearly beyond her. Iíve always taught her to try her best on tests, but I never anticipated tests like these.

A quick, online search of the company marketing the test revealed that, of the six people listed on their executive team, not one has a background in education.

I do not understand the point of these tests, unless it is to enrich the private companies selling them. I am convinced they do nothing to help my child. When I spoke to the teacher about my reservations, she simply said ďOur school is data-driven.Ē

Iím a parent, not an educator. Is there a method behind the madness? If any DU teachers feel Iím over-reacting, feel free to talk this parent down. Iíd like to hear your views.

11 replies, 2129 views

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Test Prep/Diagnostics Gone Wild? (Original post)
grntuscarora Nov 2013 OP
NYC_SKP Nov 2013 #1
tech3149 Nov 2013 #2
Smarmie Doofus Nov 2013 #3
NYC_SKP Nov 2013 #4
roody Nov 2013 #7
LWolf Nov 2013 #5
grntuscarora Nov 2013 #9
roody Nov 2013 #6
knitter4democracy Nov 2013 #8
Ka hrnt Nov 2013 #10
DamnYankeeInHouston Dec 2013 #11

Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Tue Nov 19, 2013, 10:01 PM

1. 4th grade? Impossible. I'm 56 and find this bullshit BORING!

 

Some of the people in charge of education need to be taken out back and given a long time-out.

Even if these were valid questions appropriate a fourth grade education, the questions and answers are FUCKING SUBJECTIVE!!!

Fuck them.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 19, 2013, 10:53 PM

2. I'm a bit older but I'll agree on your perception

Both pieces are writing that I wasn't exposed to until Jr High and even then the interpretation of the text would indeed be subjective and too broad to be answered with the choices provided.
Beyond that, what skills are you evaluating?

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Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Tue Nov 19, 2013, 11:07 PM

3. I was assigned Great Expectations to read over the summer before my first year of HS.

 

I read it in the morning. I read it at night. I read it when we went on vacation for a week in CT. I worried about getting it read constantly because I was starting a new school for HS and didn't want to be singled out for not having it read.

I was up to page 52 by the time school started in September. ( True... I had two other books to read but I didn't read them either. ) The paperback copy I had was about 375 pages in length, if memory serves.

Relax. It's THEM, not you. See if you can opt-out your child from testing. Ask the principal. If he/she says no ( and it may very well be a lie) check the net for opt-out groups like Time Out From Testing and/or Change the Stakes.

>>>unless it is to enrich the private companies selling them.>>>> You answered your own question. Everything... absolutely everything educational in the Obama era is $$$profit-driven.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 20, 2013, 12:47 AM

4. Do you know why it's pointless to blame it on "the Obama era"?

 

Because Obama didn't cause this and Obama isn't the solution.

Action begins AT HOME, at the district and school board level.

You give good advice, opt out, get help, but that through away blame on the administration makes people who buy it feel helpless.

They aren't helpless, and they don't need the president to change things.

Fortunately, most actions can be successful on a more local level.

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 20, 2013, 10:25 AM

7. It started before Obama.

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Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Wed Nov 20, 2013, 09:26 AM

5. This teacher says

to remember that teachers are not in charge of education; we are the scapegoats, and a convenient tool for reformers.

I don't know any teachers who want to give more tests.

I do know that the testing reform culture has been in place long enough at this point to present another danger:

As those of us who can remember teaching without the tests grow older and retire, the up and coming generation of newer teachers will never have experienced broad curriculum not tied to high stakes tests and other mandates. They will think it is "normal" and be less resistant to more and more and more destruction.

This kind of test? Opt out. I'm ambivalent about opting out of the test that is used to punish schools and teachers, because...it punishes schools and teachers who don't have any choice in the matter.

This kind of standardized "formative assessment," or "diagnostic test," though, should not, at this point, have any high-stakes attached. Although, if voters don't stop voting in politicians who support the privatization of public education, I'm sure that's coming soon, too.

Opt out. In writing.

Adding another thought:

Some districts and schools give blanket tests to a grade to find gifted students who would have slid beneath the radar otherwise. Maybe that's what this was, as your description doesn't seem to serve the same purpose as the mandatory formative assessments at my school and district. You can still opt out. If you think your child ought to be identified for services under a gifted ed program, there are other ways to identify.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 21, 2013, 10:02 AM

9. When I spoke with the teacher

I mentioned several times that I knew she was not responsible for the decision to give these tests. She seemed uncomfortable with the discussion, but promised to pass my concerns up the line of command.

"Some districts and schools give blanket tests to a grade to find gifted students who would have slid beneath the radar otherwise. Maybe that's what this was...."

Your thought made me investigate a little further. My daughter's school gives the test to grades K-8 four times a year (Aug.,Dec.,Feb.,May). According to the school they are used "to monitor the skill acquisition level" of the child.

After reading the comments, I'm ready to organize my thoughts, try to connect with other parents, then contact the school administrators. And, most likely, opt my child out.

Thank you and the others on this thread for the responses.

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Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Wed Nov 20, 2013, 10:23 AM

6. I teach first grade. I agree that the

purpose is to enrich corporations.

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Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:25 PM

8. Looks and sounds like the MAP test.

We use it now in our district, and the high schoolers figured it out right quick and started deliberately giving wrong answers so they could finish earlier. I tried to explain the problems with it before we gave it, but no one listened to me, a mere teacher. *sighs*

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Response to grntuscarora (Original post)

Fri Nov 22, 2013, 06:15 PM

10. Opting out is the only power the people have left...

As far as I'm concerned, the testing mania (and Common Core and its inherent economies of scale) is driven primarily by one simple thing: standardized tests are profitable. And people can't match the corporations for $$$, so in my view, the main goal for those of us opposed to (Corporate) "reform" should be to increase the awareness/desire for parents to opt out of these (often ridiculous) tests. I've already wasted 5 days of the school year proctoring standardized tests. The taxpayers should be outraged I'm nothing but a (grossly) overpaid proctor for about 2 weeks a year...

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Response to Ka hrnt (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 7, 2013, 02:37 AM

11. Boycott the test.

Last edited Sat Dec 7, 2013, 04:14 AM - Edit history (1)

One of my favorite families took the kids camping every year during standardized test week.

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