Monday, August 13, 2012

What Does Test Taking Have to Do with Learning - Not Very Much...

Jeffery Weiss, education reporter for the Dallas Morning News, has written what I consider to be a very important article regarding standardized testing. His article reveals what a great number of critics of over reliance on testing isn't yielding the results testing 'experts' would have us believe.

The idea that "....The state’s standardized test scores have relatively little to do with whether the kids know math, English, social studies or science."  is not surprising to any number of parents, educators, business leaders and education policy advocates. It's what we've all been saying for years. Perhaps if enough academics like Professor Walter Stroup of UT Austin continue to confirm what we're seeing everyday, legislators will listen and we can actually fashion something that works...

"University of Texas education professor Walter Stroup says he’s spilling the beans about an open secret among educators: The state’s standardized test scores have relatively little to do with whether the kids know math, English, social studies or science."

"If you tell him a student’s score on a math TAKS test from any year, he says he can predict with some precision how the student scored in previous or following years in math. And on every other kind of test — English, social studies, science."

"If Stroup is right, then TAKS, and now the STAAR exams, aren’t very specific at identifying the effects of classroom instruction. He says that less than 30 percent of the differences in student scores can be related to content knowledge, teaching skill, and differences in curriculum design. But the tests are used to rate the effectiveness of teachers, schools and school districts. And Texas is spending about $90 million every year on the testing regimen."

"His critics say Stroup is making a statistical mountain out of a well-known molehill: Students who are good (or less good) at one subject tend to be good (or less good) at others. And they say the tests can be used properly as one part of a comprehensive system of accountability."

"Pearson is the company that designs the standardized tests for Texas — and for many other states and programs. Walter “Denny” Way is senior vice president for measurement services. He’s not remotely persuaded by Stroup’s analysis. Regardless, he said, Stroup’s 30 percent figure is not shocking. It’s in the ballpark with other estimates of how sensitive such tests are, he said.
“I don’t think this is anything other than the way kids really do, the way they really perform,” he said."

"Stroup and his supporters, however, say the performance being measured is really about how good kids are at taking these particular kinds of tests..."

The rest of Weiss' article can be read here...

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