Thursday, January 15, 2015

Daily Howler Doesn't Quite Use the C-word - WAPO Malpractice in Ed Reporting on Effects of Test Prep

Did test prep really produce those “huge gains?” Tomorrow, we’ll look at the rest of the (possible) story—a possible story the Post has worked to avoid down through these long pitiful years. Even after the scandals under Rhee—even after the scandals in Atlanta—the Washington Post still refuses to go there! Could it be that something other than test prep lessons produced those soaring passing rates?... The Daily Howler (WHO CARES ABOUT SCHOOLS: Even after Rhee and Atlanta!)
We take a break for a musical interlude:

Hey, we all know that the Washington Post has engaged in a coverup and in deliberate misleading over the Rhee cheating scandals in Washington DC, as John Merrow has found out:
A Story About Michelle Rhee That No One Will Print ... Michelle Rhee lobbies across the country for greater test-based accountability and changes in teacher tenure rules. ... One editor's rejection note said that Michelle Rhee was not a national story.)

Michelle Rhee and the Washington Post
May 15, 2013 - by John Merrow on 15. .... It's not too late for the Washington Post to insist that the City Council put Dr. Sandy Sanford, former Chancellor Rhee, ...

John Merrow: Shame on the Washington Post for Refusing ...
May 17, 2013 - But Merrow reserves his greatest ire for the editorial writers at the Washington Post, who were cheerleaders for Michelle Rhee and who ...
Today and yesterday, The Daily Howler - Bob Somerby --knows something about education, having taught for some years in inner city Baltimore schools --- addressed WAPO article on testing, while not openly using the C word.
Good God! After those passing rates “plummeted” in 2013, third-grade teachers at this school swung into action. As described in the passage above, they “devised a strategy for the following fall” which included extensive “test preparation.” To us, the problems with that behavior start right at the top. In theory, if a state offers statewide standardized tests, the state should also prescribe standardized test preparation. Here’s why:

Does extensive “test prep” of the type described really change scores...?.....

In theory, if test formats are so confusing that “test prep” substantially changes scores, then those formats are too confusing. You need better tests.

Let's suppose that such test prep does change test scores on the SOLs. If so, the value of the SOLs is severely undermined if School A provides extensive test prep and School B does not. If passing rates can virtually double based on test prep lessons, then it’s pointless to compare passing rates of various schools from around the state, and it’s pointless to compare some school’s passing rates to those of the state as a whole.

Beyond that, if test prep lessons change scores that much, it makes no sense to use the tests to determine “proficiency” at reading or math. Student A may know just as much math as Student B. But Student A has not been provided the test prep lessons, so his math score may be much lower.

One is “proficient,” the other is not, even though they both know the same math!

If test prep really affects scores that much, then (at the very least) test prep needs to be standardized. Having said that, a very basic question must be asked:

Does test prep affect test scores that much? Does that six weeks of test prep lessons really explain the way passing rates “soared” at this low-income school?

We don’t have the slightest idea why passing rates went up at that school. We do understand the possible scam the Washington Post still refuses to discuss, even after Rhee and Atlanta.
Tomorrow: Even after Rhee, even after Atlanta, the Post refuses to ask
Read the full piece: The Daily Howler (WHO CARES ABOUT SCHOOLS: Even after Rhee and Atlanta!). Looking forward to tomorrow when we may actually see Bob use the C word.

And our final video of the day:

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