New pricing estimates show that half the states in the PARCC group and one-third in Smarter Balanced will face paying more for those tests than what they currently pay.
Wow! That would buy half a new textbook for each student every year...Think how many library books it could buy.........field trips out of the four walls it could cover.... guest speakers this money could bring......It's been 10 to 13 years since new books were allowed for some classes in our schools. Now everyone must spend $29 at least each and every year over the decades for test to be bought. …Test to ask questions from books schools can only rarely afford to upgrade or even to replace missing books... many classes have only one class set of 30 or so books 120 students share everyday. And they are testing over the stuff in the books.... Go figure......The books have test that come with them!!! WE have already paid for testing materials over the content from the books and curriculum creators.
This is where the industrial model of training development fails society as it is applied to the broad goals and objectives of public education.
With the industrial model of performance based training you first analyze the specific task to be performed for a very particular job as the job is being performed. You then determine from what standard of performance is acceptable. You match your learning analysis to support your task analysis then you design your testing instruments based on the same task analysis and go on to design and develop training to support achieving the specific task, to the specific standard. You will also be testing as close to actual performance as possible. The successful worker will then and maybe even while being trained, go directly to applying that training learned by performing their task on the job immediately and correctly as the company requires. The summative evaluation is basically occurring on the job through the manager’s evaluation of whether the training achieved the desired results of performance. Often the training development team will do this on the job as well. When the training seems to have a pattern of failure the team will go back to the formative evaluations and scarp or start to tweak the training weaknesses and improve it.
Within the broad, generalized public school learning that climbs and builds over 12 to 14 or more years we are can use much the same approach, but the job performance and application of many things learned really do not occur ever and those we use often happen years after our first exposure. State tests, as a formative tool are extremely weak and worthless. Those members of the educational system doing everything else do not integrate these with what they are doing, nor can they. It’s just a giant pop test from a teacher you never heard speak on a book you may not have been told to read. It is a huge expensive gotcha game. The test creators are not building the training or implementing it and those that are developing the training are not the ones designing or shaping the evaluation tools…And where did they go to do their on the job task analysis? The educational team doesn’t even know each other and the test designers are not deeply familiar with the content or the way it was framed or presented in each particular book or class because that part of the process was someone else’s business.
These test designers are only directly familiar with what they value and feel should in included in instruction. They are not in a situation where they can insure what they feel should be into the instruction actually occurred. Those designing, developing and implementing the instruction are also left to guess what someone else thinks should have been put on the test. This a an education reform plan which ensures wasting billions and billions of dollars and no company that plans to last would spend one dime for training and testing to be done that way.
The only performance based objective way to do a summative test for general education is to have students go to a testing station three to five years after they have received the knowledge and see if they still possess it. That’s a fact no one wants to admit. Students that continue to build knowledge on top of what they learned earlier or are required to use the knowledge quickly and regularly after it is learned will hold on to what they have known…. Those that don’t will gradually find the knowledge very difficult, if not impossible to remember without relearning or “reviewing”. The take away lesson will stay to be used to enable general understanding of related things in life and current events…. but to make any generalized knowledge meaningful it must be continually built on as life time learning. Choosing to expand knowledge and hold on to and improve skill and understanding when we are not forced to is a character issue and behavioral choice in performance. This is what Robert Gagne in his Conditions of Learning referred to as an Attitude. Those outcomes can only be a summative evaluated by observation of how well and how long an individual chooses to continue and demonstrate the behavior that was intended by the training…. That is how you conduct a summative test to evaluate the result of general education and anything else is a mockery of the idea of summative testing. State exams fail as formative test because the fail to deliver precise, individualized input as to what exactly needs to be retrained or is being improperly taught. State test don’t even come near to doing that remotely as well as teacher or publisher prepared test do at fine-tuning teaching and learning.
I was working as a training illustrator for a while. While I was training to master the lead designer’s style so our teams project work would appear unified, as if one person did it all, I went to the lead designer with my imperfect work in hand. I had spent four hours on the work. He looked at the illustration and within 5 minutes shows me how to correct it and then told me not to do it that it was good enough. The quality was professional and perfection was too expensive and might even distract from the training points. He said build improvements gradually as I gain spend and can do it cost effectively…. Some skills and knowledge improve as you mature and nothing but time can do the trick and rarely are two people on exactly the same development time clock.
Several years later as I worked running reproduction equipment in another training production shop and I realized even clearer what the earlier boss meant. There was a very highly skilled, careful artist I observed working. He had spent 3 days illustrating the most amazing tree. You could hardly take your eyes off of it and I’m sure it cost well over 3 to 400 dollars to create as he worked most of three days on the tree. You see we produced Military training and you can win a sure bet the training point to notice was NOT an amazing tree. Does it really matter that one does not hold all the concepts on test day when you are in the 4th 6th, 7th 9th and 10th grade. Should one be held back…worried over, pushed and punished into submission to learn enough to pass the test? Is that really what education is about? Testing is a part of education…It gives us some deadlines to shoot for…Let’s us know our weak teaching and learning areas.
I have seen some too many of the most holy students in their church and those in leadership roles within a school body cheat to hold the grades that hold their status because nothing else is more important than to stay on the top of the pile of students. It is like anti-inspiration training. You spend all this time creatively trying to inspire and what’s the question? Is this going to be on the test? Do we have a state test over this class? Is it required for graduation? These will be our leaders but is that really what we want our leaders trained to do? Just pass the test to stay at the top of the class. Yes, they will try even harder when they can’t cheat to pass the test…but the goal will not be to be inspired to learn and risk with some creative vision or inspiration, because it takes lots of time to learn to remember all the things you must to be able to answer about all the random questions. The stakes are high and the test designers and education reformers are double daring students to skip over any details that MIGHT be on the test and try to still pass test with good scores.
Learning, teaching and evaluating are collaborative when they work. Professional educational material companies and teams do this best. They can improve the test processes as they improve the materials they are already providing and do that with little or no extra cost to win and hold their customers. Testing is not the fix for what ales unmotivated learners. Our money would be better spent putting it into looking for the right answers to the right question. State test designers don’t even know the question! Is the question really can these students pass a test on a given day within a given time? If this the question we are testing then our money isn’t wasted. However, if the question is really can we motivate students to be inspired into life long learners so that they may retain and expand knowledge, as well as advancing personal and professional development? Then we are indeed giving the wrong test, asking the wrong question and wasting our money!
State test administration is also a waste of valuable teacher/ student’s teaching and learning time. They might as well mandate the test taking on Saturdays and have parent sworn in to be honest test givers or maybe the local police could do it, or perhaps train some mean baboons to hand out papers and collect them and turn on a video with the rules and then to grab the test from kids that got out cell phones or looked off their paper. The baboons could not be accused of helping students cheat and could probably do all the other things needed during the test time. This would leave the teachers and students to get down to the objectives of learning new things and building new skills at school. Reinstate final exams to add a bit of pressure to retain and review the knowledge at least till the end of the course. Many schools reward the first good effort on class work and test taking by allowing student that jump through little hoops well by not bothering them to do a final cumulative evaluation and to give a final test to punish those with earlier weaker efforts. Remember the days of having an A or B average then bombing that on a final if you didn’t take time to review well? For decades now that cumulative review has been removed from many schools except to be given to the weakest students. State Test may be the very costly replacement. A final summative review and focus towards a final effort to put it all together help reinforce earlier learning and lock it in. Tests have their purpose…they are just not THE PURPOSE of an education.
Making the assumption that nearly every teacher is a crook that intends to help all their students cheat their way through school is a very costly leap to make. This money could be used to give provide a reading specialist to work in schools 3 schools that each had 400 students or one school with 1200 students. Reading specialist teachers can turn many weak students around as they build reading skills. Testing to keep people from cheating the system is a failing model because the performance you want is honesty and it is a character issue we don't offer in formal classes. These test are a very expensive way to catch cheaters, whether they are teachers or students they eventually show who they are. So why spend so much money when every textbook comes with all types of testing materials over required content?
I have worked in four different states...they all have the same basic books and often the very same company and books. These companies can just improve and add technology methods to their already exiting materials and include these testing materials into our bulk rates. Why are we spending this kind of money to reinvent the same old thing a little fancier and everyone in every state is reinventing it in their own little vacuum. Planning test should not be happening as a separate activity from planning goals and objectives and the actual instructional materials being used and any training or curriculum developer knows that. Whoever sold this idea to our politicians and education reform "leaders' and I use that term generously...was good.... real, real good. We need to load the trucks up for whomever that was to take all the unsold refrigerators to Alaska in the dead of winter.... that person could sale everyone in Alaska ten refrigerators.