Monday, August 27, 2012

What If Parents and Teachers Call for Publishing of Tests

I've requested to see my son's fourth grade ELA test, responses and item scores. --- a nyc parent

If I am to be held accountable as a teacher based on a test, I want that test in the public domain. --- a nyc teacher

Parents and children protest at PearsoPinsin NYC, June 2012
 What an idea that has been floating around. To request the materials. And if they don't give them, then go to court. How can they rate a teacher based on materials that may be flawed? Every parent we can get involved and every teacher should be asking for copies of the tests.

Here are some emails from parents and teachers:
No agency of the government has the right to compel a minor child to perform *any* task the results of which a parent is not allowed to witness. Quite aside from the fact that denying access to a test after it's taken means it can have no educational value for the child, our fundamental right as parents to oversee all aspects of our children's upbringing is violated by keeping the tests secret. All parents whose children did take the standardized tests should demand to see them.

Note that the state-mandated academic tests are quite different from voluntarily taken psychological tests, for example, whose exact contents are not revealed to patients in order to preserve the integrity of research. Such tests are never forced on children against the wishes of parents.

They are also completely different from tests like the SAT, taken voluntarily by children who are almost of age and already assuming
responsibilities like driving (and therefore able to judge for themselves whether the benefits of taking the test outweigh the disadvantage to them of not being able to review the results in detail), and different from professional licensing exams, entered into voluntarily by full-fledged adults. In all these cases there is no coercion.
Parents need to see that the material being used to judge and punish children, teachers, and schools is complete and utter trash. Poorly written, dull, confusing, inane "passages" on the ELA test. Deliberately confusing, awkwardly worded, "trick"y math problems. I imagine a flood of requests would gum up the works, but I'm curious to see how high up the burden goes. Will it inconvenience the school administration or the state ed department?
What parent is not interested in seeing how their child "performed" on this overly determinative test?   Im interested both for him and on behalf of his incredible fourth grade ELA teacher. My son certainly decreased her value added score this year and he had the best ELA year ever, creating work (for the first time) that sugnificantly moved him in the direction that I value: a rigorous, critical and impassioned thinker and writer.

UPDATE: Read a similar commentary from a NYC teacher and parent:


Linda said...

Bravo, Norm, that is exactly what I have advocated for in my latest blog post If they are so big on data, shouldn't they be more transparent with theirs?

Anonymous said...

I agree. Everything should be made public. These companies are paid more than enough to be able to change their tests every year and make the previous years' tests public domain. Also, the formula to evaluate teachers and their yearly progress should be made public. Just think about it...

Unknown said...

It should be FOILable , no?

ed notes online said...

Great piece Linda. I'll link to it and your blog. You should consider joining our Change the Stakes committee. Great group of parents and teachers (who are also parents). We meet third Friday of the month at CUNY at 5PM.

ed notes online said...

I don't think tests are foilable. It will take going to court. Imagine a teacher rated low - or even high -- demanding pub of the tests that resulted in merit pay - or not-- or losing a job or being denied tenure. I think this offers a tremendous weapon - which of course the union has ignored.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea! As educators, our instruction is data driven and plenty of times we need to provide evidence for our instruction. My question is: If these state test are so heavily important measure of classroom instruction and student "knowledge", why we can not see in details the test after being scored? I know my parents love to see the scored tests and projects my students do in my classroom.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.