Thursday, March 8, 2007

High stakes or not, it's meaningless testing

In British Columbia our grades 4 and 7 students will be subjected to the Foundation Skills Assessment to be held in May. This test (I won't call it an assessment) is designed to test the understanding of the curriculum taught to date by the students in these grades.

In his I Need to Vent blog entry, Mr. Sherman describes the high stakes testing environment in his state of Illinois and the administrative and school disruptive nightmare this test brings to his school.

I commented to his posting as follows:
British Columbia has an annual assessment of students in grades 4 and 7 in May and although it is not as high stakes as yours in the US are, they are quite frustrating for teachers and administrators. The issues you note above re the rigmarole related to the administration of the assessments apply here too.

Our results do come back earlier than yours, however they are largely meaningless. A student is deemed to be "not within", "within", or "exceeding" expectations. No item analysis, no clear understanding of what a student needs to learn to improve.

Of course a right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute, rates schools by the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations and whether schools improve or decline from year to year. The so called growth or decline is bogus since the year to year data does not apply to cohort groups. I could go on, but I think you get my drift.
I was directed by another blog I read today to an Edutopia article which urges us to teach children to appreciate their brains.

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