Monday, May 13, 2013

A testing time

The glitch in this year's ISTEP testing is certainly a major headache for schools. But the glitch will be fixed and if the scores truly are affected, they will probably be discounted in school ratings and teacher evaluations. One particular year is mainly a point in the trend, and schools have other means such as Acuity to gauge progress even if the official test is questionable. The faux outrage looks like a way to protect their butts just in case the scores look bad. Those "we are an A rated school district" banners were a joke anyway.

What's hard to believe is the stories about kids emotional reactions to the problem. Kids have no real stake in the outcome. Even if they fail every ISTEP they take, they will be socially promoted into high school. If they fail the ECA's in high school they will still get an "alternate path to gradation". There are really no cosequences for kids who fail the state tests, no asterisk on their diploma or disclaimer that they "graduated" from high school with an eighth grade education.

So Wendy's whining about losing the "culture of continuous improvement" because of one year of questionable data is ludicrous. Until they change their policy of blanket social promotion, they will remain just another "premier" urban school district that won't hold kids accountable.


Anonymous said...

Supt. Himsel of Northwest Allen whining: “Instead of wasting the time of students, we did end the testing sessions and returned to providing meaningful instructional activities when it became apparent that student frustration was building and the testing vendor was not going to have the issue resolved in a timely manner".

Further whining from Rocky Killion, superintendent of West Lafayette Community Schools, when he "said the problems cast doubt on the validity of the test results". and "We will not get an accurate picture of how well students are doing,"

And whining from a parent: "Certainly, it's disappointing," said another parent, Gina Cerimele. She says students try hard and the glitch makes it harder.

It has been awhile since you have been in school, CB, but many students want to do well on EVERY test and are upset when factors beyond their control diminish their efforts.

Code Blue Schools said...

Yes it has been a while, but back then there was some fear of failure because some kids were actually held back to repeat a grade. And for me at least fear was a great motivator.

Some kids want to do well on tests but some don't care and they see no consequences for failing their courses or their state tests. They know they won't be held back no matter what they do. About a third of the kids entering FWCS high schools couldn't pass the 8th grade ISTEP. They're not ready for high school level courses, they won't pass the ECA's but they are guaranteed a piece of paper basically for sticking around for four years. That cheapens the diplomas of those that did earn it including mine from fifty years ago.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever asked Himsel how they get students to move from NWACS to FWCS? When, I graduated it was a well know factor that Fort Wayne Community Schools was dumping grounds for Northwest Allen County Schools.

Code Blue Schools said...

How many are we talking about? Considering what FWCS is dealing with already, a few kids pursuaded to leave NAC couldn't have much impact.

gadfly said...

Even Wendy admitted that the ISTEP testing glitch occurred when too many test-takers signed onto CTB McGraw-Hill's online computer. Strangely, the schools kept trying and the service provider didn't go offline.

With proper load-planning and some front-end permissions to prevent overload, the problem could have been avoided.

Either these superintendents do not understand how computers work or they slept through computer classes - but the tests themselves were unaffected by a shutdown. Yeah, some students will end up taking the test twice, but to quote Hillary: "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Code Blue Schools said...

IMO the glitch gave them an occasion to vent their frustration with accountability and testing in general. As Krista said "should we be judged on the basis of one test?" (hell yes unless you want to add SAT and ACT) They're for accountability, of course, as long as it's not based on data.

Pence just approved a law requiring high schools to remediate juniors who were not going to pass their ECA's. Too late I think but apparently there is finally an awareness of the problem of unearned diplomas and remedial colleges. Let's at least end the sham.

Anonymous said...

Gadfly - the servers all belong to CTB, they are the ones that did not load test them! Probably because that would have cut into their profits.

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