November 4th, 2012

Interesting Disclaimer by Common Core Assessors

Via John Chase, here’s a snip from PARCC’s recent (October 25, 2012) release on performance level descriptors:

It must be noted that the academic knowledge, skills, and practices defined by the PARCC CCR Determinations in ELA/literacy and mathematics are an essential part of students’ readiness for college and careers, but do not encompass the full range of knowledge, skills, and practices students need for success in postsecondary programs and careers. For example, Conley (2012) includes learning skills and techniques such as persistence, motivation, and time management as critical elements of college and career readiness, along with transition skills and knowledge such as awareness of postsecondary norms and culture and career awareness4. The Association of Career Technical Education (2010) includes employability skills and technical skills, as well as academic skills, as critical components of career readiness5.

A comprehensive determination of college and career readiness that would include additional factors such as these is beyond the scope of the PARCC assessments in ELA/literacy and mathematics. Many states, however, are engaged in identifying these factors and determining ways to support students in strengthening them as part of a broad agenda to increase college graduation rates and career success.

Since these non-academic factors are so important, PARCC College- and Career-Ready Determinations can only provide an estimate of the likelihood that students who earn them have the academic preparation necessary to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing courses.

Accordingly, the information and process used to identify the scores on PARCC assessments used to make College- and Career-Ready Determinations will be designed to promote confidence in the estimate, realizing that no estimate can be 100 percent accurate. [Emphasis mine.]

I’m not sure if this is good news (they’re admitting that they can’t account for everything kids need to be successful in college and career) or bad news (we’re right back where we stated in terms of states trying to figure it out on their own.)

Either way, part of me wishes the emphasis was “flipped”. 


October 12th, 2011

Some Sane Voices in the Forest

Some seriously good news yesterday from the front line battles for some sanity in the education conversation.

First, how nice is it to see the Governor who oversees 1/8 of all school children in the US come out and say “Enough!” when it comes to standardized tests? In his veto of California state bill SB547 which called for even more testing data to be used to evaluate school, teachers and kids, Jerry Brown wrote the following:

"The current fashion is to collect endless quantitative data to populate ever-changing indicators of performance to distinguish the educational ‘good’ from the educational ‘bad.’ Instead of recognizing that perhaps we have reached testing nirvana, editorialists and academics alike call for ever more measurement ‘visions and revisions.’

A sign hung in Albert Einstein’s office read ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

SB547 nowhere mentions good character or love of learning. It does allude to student excitement and creativity, but does not take these qualities seriously because they can’t be placed in the data stream. Lost in the bill’s turgid mandates is any recognition that quality is fundamentally different from quantity.”

And how about the National Council Teachers of English, my favorite professional organization, who yesterday released a draft resolution opposing the Common Core Standards and national tests. The resolution still needs to be approved by the NCTE membership, but it’s an important statement nonetheless, A section of it reads:

No educator is opposed to assessments that help students to improve their learning. We are, however, opposed to excessive and inappropriate assessments. The amount of testing proposed by the US Department of Education in connection to national standards is excessive, inappropriate and fruitless.

The standards that have been proposed and the kinds of testing they entail rob students of appropriate teaching, a broad-based education, and the time to learn well. Moreover, the cost of implementing standards and electronically delivered national tests will be enormous, bleeding money from legitimate and valuable school activities. Even if the standards and tests were of high quality, they would not serve educational excellence or the American economy.

Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English

* oppose the adoption of national standards as a concept and specifically the standards written by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers

* alert its members to the counter-productiveness of devoting time, energy and funds to implementing student standards and the intensive testing that would be required.

Can I get an “Amen!”?

Could that actually be a light way down there at the end of the testing tunnel?

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