Friday, January 25, 2013

Tests, typos and video tape

The website parents were sent to instead of a similar URL for information on Illinois testing standards.
BBB's email notification to parents, warning them of a probable decline in student test scores, led instead,  to an erotic website. Pretty hilarious when you consider all the possibilities. But most likely, just a typo on the part of a secretary -- an errant l in the website address that leads us to this ISBEL site instead of to ISBE. But you can bet the CEO's overstaffed Damage Control Dept. is on high alert and is in a tizzy this morning, especially after Sun-Times ed writers Fitzpatrick and Rossi got hold of the story ("Was CPS email a little ‘naughty’? Link sends parents to sex site")  and ran with it.

Yes, pretty funny stuff. But in a way, it may have saved Byrd-Bennett from having to explain the real, un-funny, un-sexy fallout caused by re-norming of state tests and the expected drop in student test scores.

From the Sun-Times:
Byrd-Bennett’s message intended to notify parents of state changes to the Illinois Standards Achievement Test or ISAT, whose standards for scores will be raised this year, and to brace them for the new results.
“What does this mean for your child?” Byrd-Bennett wrote. “By raising the bar on the ISAT, it is likely that scores for students may decrease. In many cases, some students who previously met or exceeded standards on the ISAT will instead show the need for improvement.
“However, even if scores do drop for your child, it does not mean they know less than they did before or are less capable than they were in previous years. ISBE is simply raising the bar on the ISAT in order to align it more closely with standards that better indicate if students are on a path for college and career-readiness.”
Two points here. First, Byrd-Bennett lets the cat out of the bag by admitting that ISAT scores have little to say about what kids know and are actually learning.

Second is the consequences of decline in scores on this high-stakes test for teachers. Under SB7  and the new teachers contract, teacher evaluations are based in large measure, on student test scores. How this will be handled with the constant re-norming of state tests is anybody's guess.

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