"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Glitches Make Invalid Tests Less Valid

Whether a test is valid or not as a measure of achievement is one thing. It's the misuse of tests, however, which is the big problem in public schools today.

State achievement tests are (presumably) valid for one thing...and one thing only. They were (supposedly) made and validated for measuring student achievement.
  • Achievement tests are not made to evaluate teachers.
  • Achievement tests are not made to evaluate schools.
  • High stakes decisions should not be based upon achievement tests...grade placement, graduation, required summer school.
No one who is educated in the area of Tests and Measurements (unless of course, they have some sort of vested economic interest) would suggest using a test to measure something other than that for which it was developed. It's like using a blood test to try to diagnose a broken bone...or giving someone a driver's test to determine if they're qualified to fix your TV. Tests have purposes...and they should be used ONLY for the purposes for which they have been designed and (hopefully) validated.

The education establishment of state departments of education and the federal department of education (see what I did there!) regularly misuses test scores in this way...State sponsored tests -- encouraged by the US DOE -- are regularly used to make invalid conclusions about students, teachers and schools. So it's ironic that the validity of the already invalid tests is being questioned. To do so gives the false impression that the tests were, at one point, valid.

In any case...we should learn from this mistake before we continue down this destructive road...

CTB/McGraw-Hill has had a few problems this week.

Validity of ISTEP+ exam disputed

Indiana's online testing for ISTEP+ was halted this past week due to computer and network errors.
Educators in Allen County and across the state are questioning the validity of the ISTEP+ exam after problems plagued this week’s round of online testing.

“We are at the point where we doubt very seriously that the results will indicate the effort of our teachers, parents and students,” Mark GiaQuinta, FWCS board president, told a news conference at Grile Administrative Center on Friday.

GiaQuinta is calling on legislators to commission an independent investigation into the reliability of the test.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Friday she is considering bringing in a third party to review ISTEP+ scores.
Put yourself in the mind of a third grader. What's your reaction to seeing a big FAIL message on the screen as you're taking your "very important" test?
Like the story of one student in the district who started crying when a “fail” message appeared on her computer screen, indicating a network failure.

“However, at 9 years of age, a ‘failed’ message does not always translate into ‘a technical issue occurred with uploading the answers,’” [Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent, Chris] Himsel wrote in an email to staff, thanking the student’s teacher and others who’ve calmed students with similar reactions.
It's not just in Indiana, though...it seems that CTB/McGraw-Hill has had national problems...

Oklahoma school testing glitch What happens next in the aftermath of the Oklahoma school testing glitch?
For the second day in a row, Oklahoma students taking state exams -- some of them required for high school graduation — were booted out of online programs by a technology failure.

Tuesday morning, about 1,000 junior high and high school students were prevented from finishing the tests midway through when servers crashed, according to the state Education Department.

Students experienced a similar problem Monday when the company that administers state exams, CTB/McGraw-Hill, experienced server malfunctions while uploading student testing results.
Computerized Testing Disaster Preview
School testing came to a halt statewide early Monday because the CTB/McGraw-Hill testing company servers in New Jersey crashed around 9 a.m., state education officials said.

In the last week of Oklahoma's April testing window, the outage has raised rescheduling concerns among school officials across the state.

"We're working with (McGraw) very closely" to resolve the problems, said Sherry Fair, spokeswoman with the state Department of Education.

School districts were advised to cancel online testing because of the server crash, although some students in a few schools somehow were able to complete tests.
It's time to stop the madness...Let teachers teach. Let students learn. End the overuse and misuse of tests.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


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