Tag Archives: standardized test scores


Standardized Test Fact Sheets

Standardized testing has become the go-to procedure for evaluating students, schools, districts, and now teachers and principals.  As someone with a background in testing, I have been opposed to the use of these tests since high-stakes consequences have been attached to the scores of students.  These two papers do a good job of capturing why standardized test scores should not be used for ANY high-stakes decisions.
This comes to us from:
FairTest has revised and updated two of its most popular fact sheets (all FT fact sheets are at http://fairtest.org/fact%20sheets).

How Standardized Testing Damages Education – at http://fairtest.org/how-standardized-testing-damages-education-pdf

What’s Wrong with Standardized Tests? – http://fairtest.org/facts/whatwron.htm

We hope you find these and our other fact sheets of use in your advocacy and education week. They may be freely circulated, printed, etc., so long as proper credit is given and the use is not for profit.

FairTest | The National Center for Fair and Open Testing

Can We Be Confident In Standardized Test Results? – Part 4

Excerpts from this article:

…As scores came back from the very first round of testing, teachers noticed that many of the scores did not match what they were observing in their classrooms.
…We should have noticed that the RIT scores from the test failed to give us the specific information we needed about each student.  We had strong evidence that the tests were cognitively inaccurate, and numerically unreliable, but we failed act.   As a teaching staff, we were too busy doing the daily things that we had to do.

…But teachers reported that the growth graphs did not even come close to matching what they were observing in the classroom.

…At the meeting, I again pointed out that our data clearly showed 20% to 50% of the scores being unreliable.  Both the curriculum coordinator and special services coordinator laughed at this claim and suggested that I did not understand statistics.

…I asked permission to review NWEA’s technical data to see what type of performance we should expect from MAP testing.  The administrators present all approved. After about a month of reviewing manuals at home after school, I reported back to the committee.  I had found that NWEA’s technical manuals showed the same low precision that I had reported.  Consequently, we had no reason to expect much improvement in our testing precision.

…However, we had originally adopted MAP testing to provide data to guide differentiation.  We had all attended training how to use test scores to differentiate.  And she, herself, had instructed us to use test data as our primary guide for differentiation.  And yet, we were now acknowledging that even NWEA advised against using MAP testing to guide differentiation.

…Footnote to Parents: Does your school emphasize that your child get high test scores, or that your child demonstrates high achievement?

…Footnote to Voters: Federal and state laws have imposed standardized tests on all students with the threat that funding would be based on how many students pass.  The obvious consequence has been that schools are eliminating programs that offer students chances for real success, and they are replacing those programs with test skill programs.  Schools are channeling resources that once helped average and above average students achieve into programs that help below average students pass tests. Continue reading


Real Reform

Kennewick, along with most cities and towns in the country, has relied on standardized testing as a way to improve achievement for the past twenty years despite the arguments of assessment experts (they designed the tests) who said they were not appropriate for this purpose and instruction experts (they know what needs to be taught), who argued for whole child solutions. Kennewick School District has claimed vast improvement over the time period although the results don’t show up in higher graduation rates, greater college admissions, or any other measure than the same standardized tests at some grades, but not others.

Research shows the drill and test strategy has not worked on a nation-wide basis and now a new report adds additional data detailing the failed strategy. The achievement gap on the NAEP declined from 1970 to 1990, but has remained stagnant during the 20 years of “standards” and testing we have just survived. We have spent the last 20 years in a downward spiral based on the so-called reforms being mandated NCLB and RttT. It is time for real reform. What might that reform look like? Here are some possibilities.

Commitment to Whole Child Education

The Kennewick School District Citizens group believes compartmentalized education based primarily on a narrow curriculum and standardized test scores fails the true needs of our children. Academic skills are important, but a child needs much more to succeed in school and in life. Research proves that students learn best when their academic, emotional, physical, and social needs are met. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) provides a good place to start with their whole-child initiative. They list the following as the basic environmental needs of each child:
Their website provides background and resources to assist schools in developing and implementing whole-child programs (http://www.wholechildeducation.org/).

KSD Citizens support a personalized education that is designed to meet the needs and interests of each child.
Continue reading


Review of KSD Reports to the Community by Tom Staly

Elementary Report to the Community at ESD 123 on October 29, 2010 (posted on KSD Citizens November 5, 2010)

Secondary Report to the Community on November 5, 2010 (posted on KSD Citizens November 18, 2010)

In opening each program, Superintendent Dave Bond described the purposes: to engage the community in understanding student academic performance, share data to explain how KSD is helping students reach or exceed education standards and receive community recommendations.

The goals are merit worthy but I do not believe they were achieved in these two sessions. Continue reading


AAUW Presentation

Kennewick School District Citizens

A presentation to AAUW, Enterprise, Oregon September 13, 2010.

Please take a moment to answer each of the following.  Base your answer on what you believe is appropriate for your own child:

1.         The primary purpose of reading instruction is:

  • Life-long love of reading
  • To read and comprehend the written word at a increasing level of sophistication
  • Score at a high level on a standardized, multiple-choice reading achievement test

2.              The primary purpose of school mathematics instruction is:

  • Become proficient in the math necessary for everyday living and for entry-level employment
  • Understand math concepts at increasing levels of sophistication allowing students to pursue careers in math, science engineering, or technology.
  • Score high on a standardized, multiple-choice math achievement test

3.              The primary purpose of the public school is:

  • Provide each child with a healthy, safe, supported and challenging learning environment
  • Prepare each student for life, the next level of education, and/or a career
  • Score high on standardized, multiple choice achievement tests in reading, math, and writing

4.              What do you want the schools to do for your children, grandchildren, or those of your neighbors?

For many years I did education futures and visioning workshops with school communities.  When I asked question 4 at these community gatherings I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say they wanted to narrow the curriculum, lower the graduation rate, or assess students (or their teachers) primarily on the basis of standardized test scores.  Unfortunately, that is where we are, mired in a senseless set of so-called reforms that are only driving us closer and closer to the cliff.

I have been troubled by the answers to this set of questions chosen by our business and political leaders for at least 10 years, but the general population has been indoctrinated by the mantra, “Our schools are a failure.  We must increase scores on international tests to remain competitive in the global economy.”  Last year a small group of Kennewick citizens came together to discuss what was happening in our town. We considered how best to inform the public regarding the research supporting or opposing the reforms being promulgated by the school board and the government with the backing of top business officials like Bill Gates and Eli Broad.  Kennewick School District Citizens is the result.

The rest of this presentation will explore how we got here and what a small band of Kennewick citizens is trying to do about it. Continue reading


School Board Report by Tom Staly

Kennewick School Board Meeting August 25, 2010
The most discussed issue of this meeting was planning for workshops. Workshops have been conducted at each of the district schools as an opportunity for building administration and staff to formally report standardized test scores to the board. In June four proposals were under consideration by the board. August 11 a fifth proposal was offered by Dawn Adams who later consulted with Dave Bond. Adams’ idea is to have district staff report instead to members of the community. This must happen soon so district administration will immediately select “influential” community “leaders” and train them to understand the data. These community members will meet with building administrators from the 14 elementaries and 7 or more secondary schools during September. Continue reading


Kristine and Me

The folks leading education in the U.S. today are corporatists who believe in quarterly reports, bottom line and accountability to pre-set standards.  But teaching is a funny profession.   Anyone who has spent a couple of years in a classroom with kids knows that instantaneous indicators of achievement like standardized test scores don’t mean much in the long term development of a student’s intellect.  As a former high school physics and chemistry teacher, I am more interested in indicators that hold up over time.  For a true-life example that just happened over the past 3 days, click  here to see what my student from the class of 1965 is still inquiring about.


Whole Child Testimony


Around the nation more and more people are concerned with the simplistic focus on narrow testing to provide the data to improve schools and to enhance the lives of children. The U.S. Senate recently held hearigs on the problem. Here is one person’s testimony.

*Clare Struck, an elementary school guidance counselor from the Malcolm Price Laboratory School (PLS) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, advocated for a more student-centered, educator-supported, and instruction-driven education system at a Senate hearing held last week to learn more about meeting the needs of the whole child.

Continue reading