Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Testy About Tests

---after I sent the parents and teachers on our shared community-based  listserve the reports about testing errors and the new directions that were shipped out... A teacher responded referring to the 32 million Pearson contract... "So now we are at 32 million plus shipping and handling!?"--- NYC teacher
 

The NY Daily News was right. There is a Pineapple in charge of state testing. 
---- Diane Ravitch
Or maybe a Yam in charge ---- see below

Did you hear Merryl Tisch on Brian Lehrer today? Boy an I increasingly disappointed in Brian who basically let her filibuster her way through the interview. She put down cosmetology as a legit career --- she must be a beauty school dropout.

Brian didn't challenge her on aiding and abetting the closing of so many vocational programs and schools by the BloomShmucks though he did raise the point about going back to different diplomas. On the global studies he let her get away with saying they have to complete the course work, an obfuscation of the talk about dropping the regent test requirement. Sure, do away with the high stakes test that make your policies look very bad indeed but "require" the course -- with a bit of credit recovery I can see 100% grad rates -- and 100% remediation rates. Good call-in from Verne though (who I've met) on the fact he is sending his kid to private kindergarten due to high stakes testing. Wouldn't it be great if Tisch ran for mayor?

Here are some reactions today to the statewide tests today. More fun and games. And 2 more days to go.

NYC elementary school special ed teacher
1. The city scheduled tree pruning complete with mulching machines on our school block during testing time today. The noise was ridiculous and not conducive to testing to say the least. Can't make this @#*! Up.

2. This one is truly unbelievable: I serve children who have intellectual disabilities and therefore take alternate assessments as dictated by their IEPs. The alternate assessments are required/scheduled according to their birthday. This year I had 4 children who are technically third graders, but only two reached the date cut off for the alternate assessment age requirement. So, what comes in the mail for the two that are too young still for the AA? 3rd grade state ela and math grids of course! Why? Well bc they are 3rd graders and "there has to be some form of accountability for them at the school level". Obviously we did not give them the tests, but no one, anywhere, apparently knows how to fix this glitch and if it is not fixed before the various accountability reports are due and done we will be "penalized" with two non-scorers. The amount of time just spent on this one issue has been tremendous.

The inefficiency, mismanagement, and down right stupidity astounds me.

Also, I thought this was a chuckle worthy comment after I sent the parents and teachers on our shared community-based  listserve the reports about testing errors and the new directions that were shipped out... A teacher responded referring to the 32 million Pearson contract... "So now we are at 32 million plus shipping and handling!?"

Would be funny if it wasn't reality. But don't worry, the folks Tisch talks to says all is well... Right, for other people's children and the middle class taxpayers who are footing the bill.
  ---------
It is far more likely that the 8th grade error was mathematical than it was typographical. (consider, if you will, the number of typographical errors that NYSED has claimed for reading and ELA exams - none in my lifetime, and the number they claim for math.) --- ---Jonathan

They claim every error is typographical.  Both NYSED press guy and Merryl Tisch today on WNYC said, of course there are going to be mistakes when you are giving exams to 5 Million students; as though each test was separately typed.
----Leonie Haimson
 ----------
Steven Katz, Director of State Assessment gets a 0 as his DSA Data Report

Re 4th grade math: “Question 58 on all test forms has two correct answers. If during this test any student asks about Question 58, proctors may advise the student that there are two correct answers to this question.”

And:

Re 8th grade math: “Due to a typographical error, there is no correct answer to Question 13 on this test form. Proctors may tell students before the test begins that there is no correct answer for this question and students should mark any answer to this question on their answer sheets. Because it is an embedded field test question, Question 13 does not count toward students’ scores.”

From a principal:

In latest email to principals from state ed (last night after 5pm) there were two attachments re mistakes in the 8th and 4th grade math.  I am attaching the attachments here.  One thing that is completely puzzling is that in the case of the 8th grade exam it says you should announce in advance that there is one question with no answer, but in the 4th you are only allowed to tell that there is a question with two answers if a child asks!  …..

See also this:

From: NYSED EXAMREQUEST [EXAMREQUEST@MAIL.NYSED.GOV]
Sent:
Thursday, April 19, 2012 4:44 PM
Subject:
Separate Shipments of Grades 6-8 Math Tests Teacher's Directions

Dear Principals:
 
During the course of packing the Grades 6, 7, and 8 Math Tests for some schools, we inadvertently included teacher’s directions for the Grades 3-5 Math Tests in place of the teacher’s directions for Grades 6-8. To correct this matter, teacher’s directions for the Grades 6-8 Math Tests were packed and shipped in separate cartons or Tyvek® envelopes to the affected schools. Both the original shipments with the Grades 6-8 Math Test books and the separate packages with Grades 6-8 Math Tests teacher’s directions will be delivered to schools on Friday, April 20, Monday, April 23, or Tuesday, April 24.
 
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
 
Sincerely,
Steven Katz
Director of State Assessment

------------------
Yamming it Up


I've seen the African folk tale of the talking yam, and not in test
prep. It's wonderful. That said, the words "critical thinking" are now beginning to raise red flags with me, especially when anyone claims to be standardizing it. At one time, they were meaningful, but not so much any more. Most of what I used to call critical thinking arises in discussions, where proposing wrong answers is just as valuable as proposing right ones.
It involves debate and gray area, not filling in bubbles and scoring from 1 to 4. The story of the Pineapple and the Hare would be AWESOME-- AWE-SOME--to read to a group of kids and I can only imagine the very lively discussion that would follow, quite possibly including
questions like which animal was the wisest, where we uncover the folly of each and delight in the nonsensicality of the tale. Now there would be some critical thinking and talking going on! But that doesn't work in 2D, neither can it nor should it be standardized. Next thing you know they'll be standardizing creativity.
Fed up!
Kari

Included in Houghton-Mifflin test prep materials. Reportedly some kids cheered when they heard the “listening” passage.

After controversy over pineapple question on city schools test, a question about a yam stirs new troubles

Some students had seen the story that the question was based on

By Rachel Monahan / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 10:18 PM








Description: 
 Tuber troubles on city schools test.

Photo by AP

Tuber troubles on city schools test.
Move over pineapple -- the yam talked, too.

 The state’s fourth-grade reading test included an African folk tale about a talking yam, even though versions of the story appeared in test prep books used in city schools, the Daily News has learned.
While the passage isn’t confusing like one about a talking pineapple yanked from the tests last week, critics charge that using a listening-comprehension passage that was required reading at some schools offered an unfair edge to those students.
“That’s very lazy and sloppy on the part of the testing company,” said education historian Diane Ravitch. “Two big mistakes of this kind — the talking pineapple and the talking yam — makes a strong argument for public release of all the test questions.”
RELATED: TALKING PINEAPPLE QUESTION ON STATE EXAM STUMPS ... EVERYONE!
The folk tale involves a farmer startled by his talking yam. Everyone he meets dismisses him as crazy and insists the tubers can’t talk -- including, amusingly, other mute objects like a fish, melon and chair.
But a version of the yam story appears in a fourth-grade Houghton Mifflin reader and other test prep material available for city schools to purchase, officials said.
State Education spokesman Jonathan Burman strenuously dismissed the criticisms of testing contractor Pearson for using the passage, noting the questions were unique to the state exam.
“It is absurd to suggest that a passage cannot be used on an exam simply because some students may have previously read that passage,” he said.
“Using that logic, we would be unable to ask children to read and answer questions about Dr. King's ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
Brooklyn’s PS 273 principal Melessa Avery said one of her fourth-grade classes used a test prep book with the talking yam story, but she said the test questions required a lot critical thinking.
rmonahan@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/controversy-pineapple-question-city-schools-test-a-question-a-yam-stirs-troubles-article-1.1066971#ixzz1t4GmCoqk
 

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