Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Common Core Testing Dropouts

Board, School, Uni, Learn, Work, Test  According to Education Week, the number of states participating in the standardized PARCC and Smarter Balance Tests are dropping.  I know our state had signed up for Smarter Balance and then changed to a different test that had its own issues and we never implemented the test.  Last I heard, the state of Alaska is working on something else.

So why are state dropping out of Common Core after so much time was spent implementing it?  Some of it has to do with dropping scores.  Since the new testing focused on different standards and on different aspects, students were not as prepared for these tests so the scores showed a decline.  Unfortunately dropping scores are often seen as the failure of a district to teach students, not as a possiblee adjustment  to a new type of test. 

People forget that anytime a new curriculum or a new testing system is implemented, test results decline.  It can take 5 to 7 years for any new program to start showing real results because everyone has had a chance to use the program properly.  We cannot change tests and expect the same results as before. 

I checked out some practice questions from the Smarter Balance test and I knew my students would not do well because the questions were expressed in ways they were not used to.  Furthermore, there were questions using methods I'd never seen before and it took a while to understand what was being asked.  If teachers are having difficulty with the way questions are posed, just think about the students.

Since there is a push to perform well on any standardized test, some states have changed the rubric for  interpreting the scores so results are more favorable looking to the public.  Although this defeats the purpose of a company created rubric, one can understand a states desire not to appear to be a failure in educating students.

Furthermore, most of these tests are switching from pencil and paper based to computer based which is great if you have an internet system that is guaranteed to have the necessary band width, enough computers, and the provider does not run into issues.  Last year, the computer based tests were cancelled at the last minute because the provider ended up having a line cut and we couldn't access them.

So where do we go from now?  We need to choose a course of action and stick to it rather than try this or that. What is your opinion on this topic?