Monday, May 14, 2012

After a decade of NCLB and Florida test madness...

After a decade of No Child Left Behind, where the total focus was on standardized testing and FCAT, after test-crazed govs Bush and Scott, after millions spent on Michelle Rhee's consulting and $250 million more to  NCS Pearson to administer and score the FCAT through the end of 2013.

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Florida's writing scores plummeted once again.

Passing scores in eighth grade fell from 82 percent to 33 percent. Tenth graders taking the test saw a similar drop in success. While 80 percent passed the test last year, only 38 percent scored a 4 or above on a 6-point scale this time
Students can be retained in third grade if they don’t pass their FCAT. They will be denied high school graduation if they don’t pass their FCAT. For the first time ever, 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations will be based on student FCAT scores. Two out of three negative (or two negative in a row) mean the unemployment line. As of 2014, the scores will also determine pay. Schools will, as always, be assigned a letter grade based on student FCAT performance — only now the test is harder and the proficiency scores are higher, meaning hundreds of schools in Miami-Dade County alone expect to drop as much as two letter grades. -- Miami Herald

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So the reformers brain storm and come up with this great idea to solve the problem. Hey, let's just lower the required passing score 4.0 to 3.5; a reduction that would dramatically increase the number of students having passing scores. Brilliant!
Under the lower standards, 48 percent of fourth graders, 52 percent of eighth graders and 60 percent of 10th graders would have passed the test. Though improved, the passing percentage is still at least 20 points lower than 2011 scores. --
Here's an even better idea. Why not stop all the testing madnes and let the teachers teach writing. So crazy it just might work. 


  1. The ISATs are not true measures of a teacher’s teaching skills. If a teacher has been slacking off all year, and a month before the ISATs decides to start making the kids memorize stuff just for the tests, maybe that class will have a good score, but not a hard working teacher. Or, if a really hard working teacher teaches you how to do certain types of problems, but the majority of the class isn’t skilled on the actual explaining about the thinking involved, or hasn’t memorized the right random vocabulary words; that class might have a bad ISAT score, and a perfectly good teacher could be in trouble or even fired.

  2. After my students studied the art of commentary in some depth, they were given the opportunity to write a commentary on any subject. One student decided to write about Illinois' high stakes test: I'll split it in two to make it fit
    I think that I want to be an anti-ISATologist one day. Here is an example of what can (and will) happen if you are taking the ISATs; you wake up, and there is drool on your paper. “Time’s up.” Your teacher says. You’ve answered only five of the trillion questions on your ISAT test. Uhhhh. I’m going to die of boredom. You wonder if you will become a stowaway, and you’ll live the rest of your life on the run. You’ll team up with one of Machine Gun Kelly’s old friends, and be on the FBI’s most wanted list, your mind tells you.
    Then, your mind thinks of something more useful. It thinks, What’s the point of ISAT’s? All you do with them is get kids all worked up about some stupid test. But really, it doesn’t even matter. Do you really think you are going to get kicked out of Harvard or Yale because you did badly on a test in 5th grade? I think someone should sue the ISAT makers for excessive boredom.
    Studies show that too much work on memorizing the same things over and over for no reason is bad for your brain (And it’s boring). In 1992, an analysis found out this; in most widely used standardized tests, only 3% of the questions require high level conceptual knowledge, and only 5% require high level thinking skills.
    So if you think you will gain knowledge by circling A, B, C or D, you’d be wrong. Maybe, (no one knows how often this happens) if you’re stuck on a question, you could say, “A looks pretty, so that’s my answer.” And, statistically, you have a 25% chance of getting it right when you do that.
    And, if you hate getting bribed, you had better stay away. At a lot of schools (like my school) they give you candy. I know that mints and dark chocolate are good for you, but the reason they give it to you is to is so you actually have something to look forward to. But, really, the ISATs are like having a nice, cold ice cream cone while you’re stranded on Mt. Everest in the winter.
    And to all of you adults that are blabbing that your job makes you take tests; at least you have a salary. Ya, ya, ya. Save the talking for later. And, really, do you think it’s fair that we have to spend month(s) getting ready for, and a week taking a test that does nothing for us? Oh, sure, we learn what, 6 facts? Wip-dee-doo! I bet you could learn that in a whole 10 minutes.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.