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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Does reducing standardized testing mean lower test scores?

Sent to the Concord Monitor, Dec. 15
Does reducing standardized testing mean lower test scores?

The Monitor's headline, "Initial education pilot program results show less than half of students in participating districts meet achievement levels in reading and math," (Dec 14) suggests that reducing the amount of standardized testing results in lower test scores. 
In the pilot program, students took fewer standardized tests and more teacher-made tests. Before we conclude that these students did worse, we must have a basis for comparison.  We do not have data from previous years, nor do we know what the achievement levels were in districts with students with similar backgrounds: It is well-established that factors such as poverty have a powerful influence on test scores.
We also do not know if the pilot group had more or less total time dedicated to testing and test-preparation than other students.
Finally, statements about the percentage of students at or above "proficiency" levels are misleading.  Many experts have claimed that American "proficiency” levels are set much too high, in a deliberate effort to make schools look bad: According to our standards, a large percentage readers from high-scoring countries would be ranked as non-proficient. New Hampshire is among the highest scoring states in the US, but fewer than 40% of  New Hampshire students scored at the proficient level or above in Math in 2014.
Stephen Krashen
Original article: http://www.concordmonitor.com/community/town-by-town/concord/20044856-95/initial-education-pilot-program-results-show-less-than-half-of-students-in-participating-districts
Proficiency levels: Bracey Offers the Answer Sheet on NAEP. (http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2009/04/bracey-offers-answer-sheet-on-naep.html)
State test scores: http://my.doe.nh.gov/profiles/profile.aspx

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