"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teacher Evaluations Based on Test Scores Will Requires Dozens of New Tests

The argument for longer school days and school years is getting a big boost in recent weeks, as states contemplate the dozens of new tests that will be needed for teacher evaluation plans based on test scores. Kindergarten or 12th grade,
P. E. or computer programming, history or home ec, everyone will have to be tested, and more than once a year.  Remember, this is about added value.  Remember?

When Broadie (rhymes with toady) Peter Gorman (Class of '04) rolled out the Oligarchs' year-round testing plan in Charlotte recently, non-corporate ed reformers noted that it didn't make much sense to spend $2 million on 52 new, unnecesssary tests for kindergarten through grade 12 that parents do not want, especially when the school system is laying off teachers and aides to make payroll.  But, then, we have come to learn from the Broadies that it is not the needs of adults that schools should consider--it is about the needs of corporations.  How could anyone, even Bill Gates, make the case to parents that this year-round testing to evaluate teachers can be in the interests of children?  Anyone, anyone?

Well, now another Broadie, Bloomberg's school CAO Shael Polakow-Suransky (Class of '08) has marched out the plan in New York City, this one with a price tag of over $60,000,000 for testing companies to develop tests for grades 3 through 12 (twice a year) in math, science, English, and social studies.

These tests come on top of the annual NCLB testing and the end-of-course Regents' Exams.  Initial implementation is planned for this Fall, even though no community or teacher input has been sought or received, and no validity or reliability has been established for these tests that the testing industry is still cooking up.  And what happened to the new Chancellor?  The last time we saw him, Mr. Wolcott was walking his grandson to school and preparing pink slips for 4,500 NYC teachers.

From the Times:
. . . .Elementary school students would most likely take at least one or two additional tests every year, beginning in the third grade. High school students could take up to eight additional tests a year, and middle school students would also have extra tests. These would be in addition to the state English, math and Regents exams that students already take.
The exams, which would begin rolling out as early as next academic year, are being created as part of a statewide overhaul of how teachers are evaluated. Under a law passed last year that helped the state win $700 million in a federal grant competition, known as Race to the Top, each school district must find a way to evaluate teachers on a scale from “ineffective” to “highly effective,” with teachers facing potential firing if they are rated ineffective for two years in a row.

Under the law, 40 percent of a teacher’s grade will be based on standardized tests or other “rigorous, comparable” measures of student performance. Half of that should be based on state tests, and half on measures selected by local districts. The remaining 60 percent is to be based on more subjective measures, including principal observations.
Most districts will not create their own standardized tests, an expensive process that requires considerable expertise. The state does not require them to do so, instead permitting districts to set academic goals for teachers, broadly defined.

But New York City, which has made standardized tests a centerpiece of its school reform efforts, is pushing ahead. The city schools system is planning to use up to one-quarter of its $256 million share of the federal grant money for as many as 16 new standardized exams to cover science, math, social studies and English in the 3rd through 12th grades.. . . .

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