Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fred Smith, King of Exposing Field Test Scam(s), Warns About State Ed Perfidy

Since parents have become wiser to refusing these field tests, SED decided to be coercive. Failing that, for the moment, they are now offering to seek money that would allow embedded field testing to take place on a proper scale and are making transparency sounds. Don't buy it.... Fred Smith

.... the New York State Board of Regents has, for now at least, abandoned its plan to take up changes to state regulations that would have mandated stand-alone field tests that have historically been voluntary.  ...Regents Blink On Mandatory Field Testing - For Now - RBE at Perdido

Fred Smith, as a member of Change the Stakes,  has been the leading light in pointing out the field test scam where we pay for their experiments on kids and has written extensively on the subject (Fred Smith: Saying No to This Week’s Field Tests).

Years ago we delivered a $30 million bill to the doors of Pearson during a large demo and march (Pearson Rally Pics).

And here are some ed notes pieces from May, 2012 when the opt-out movement was just getting started here in NYC.

Standardized Test Field Testing This Upcoming Tues...
Parent-led Protest Against High Stakes Testing Thu...

And recent comments on the CTS listserve
Hi Fred and group, 

Just wanted to touch base and let you know Lo Hud has written about the Regents plan to table field testing. Lisa and I were interviewed and both mentioned that our concerns about SEDs proposal persist and have been compounded as a result of the Regents lack of transparency. Here is the piece:

Anna Shah, NYSAPE
Fred Smith expands on this:
There's a back story here that puts the current SED/Regents posturing in perspective:
When SED signed a 5-year agreement with Pearson to be its consultant/contractor in early 2011 it was clear that only four field test forms (per grade) were budgeted for developing multiple-choice items. This had been specified in the RFP that vendors responded to when they formulated contract proposals.
Each form would allow a reading passage and six related items to be embedded and tried out, yielding a maximum of four passages and 24 items to be auditioned per grade for ELA and math. Note: Even if all material passed muster (an impossibility), there would not be enough new items for a subsequent round of tests.  Limited printing capacity was not immediately given as the reason so few forms could be produced.
Pearson, an experienced testing vendor knew this design would leave the state short.  It had contracts with states where many more forms were produced and collectively contained a large pool of embedded field test items from which to select in order to build new tests. In some states the number of forms ranged between 15 and 20.
In its role as a consultant Pearson should have pointed out that four forms would not work. As a vendor eager to win another state contract, however, Pearson wanted to suit its client--the SED.  So it did what was called for to win the bid.  But shortly afterward, I imagine Pearson feigned shock at learning that four forms wouldn't work and so the idea of using stand-alone field tests in June no less--to generate items took hold. 
Kind of an expedient and rescue mission at the same time, with Pearson ready to do what was necessary to keep the testing ball rolling, even though the stand-alone approach had been discredited after 2009's testing and, in general, was a dubious way to develop items.
The contract between SED and Pearson never called for stand-alone field testing of multiple-choice items. This arrangement was outside of its requirements, terms and conditions. In fact, I checked the State Comptroller's Open Book web site and, to date, I have not seen an amendment to or modification of the contract that reflects this extra work, nor any indication of how much this foreseeable overrun has cost and where the additional money has come from. But SED and Pearson pulled it off.
SED should have made the case for more money and more forms years ago, when Chancellor Tisch was trumpeting her forward looking reform agenda, which involved more rigorous testing and which spun into the transition to the common core.  With testing looming so large in all the high stakes decisions that were being tied to it--there was and is no excuse for trying to do it on the cheap.
Over the last two years, having botched the testing and the roll-out of the Core, Tisch and King have not acknowledged any of this history.  Instead, we've been given a story that SED's hands were tied by the legislature, which didn't provide funding to support adequate printing capacity--which they are now trying to obtain in order to do embedded field testing correctly--which will allow them to disclose more material--which they hope we believe will be taken to mean that SED has suddenly become transparent.
BUT... the crude attempt to mandate stand-alone field testing by passing a resolution, reveals that their basic impulse has been to continue to do ill-advised field testing. Since parents have become wiser to refusing these field tests, SED decided to be coercive.  Failing that, for the moment, they are now offering to seek money that would allow embedded field testing to take place on a proper scale and are making transparency sounds.  Don't buy it.

1 comment:

  1. I think the entire idea stinks. These kids are stressing out as they struggle to complete on time. I proctor these tests and the time allotted is nowhere near sufficient. If the true agenda of these tests is to assess, then I don't understand the need for any time limit. Let the students finish at their own pace so we can get as accurate results of what they know as possible. They are not machines each is unique. When did we forget that not everyone is the same? To embed questions that don't count towards their score anywhere but the end is lame. When you proctor in the same grade you soon figure out which were the field questions from the year before. The anger that you feel when you realize how much effort and struggle the students put into that question the year before, only to now realize it didn't count is infuriating. It not only robs your students of precious time but in addition it adds a lot of stress as they struggle to finish the “real” questions in the allotted time. It extra sucks to know that I'm being grade by these scores and that they are without a doubt affected for the worse because as it turns out it's those last questions, the ones the students ran out of time on and rushed through, while completely stressing out that actually created their score that I'm being unfairly rated on. I call shenanigans on the whole system.


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