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Task force recommends reducing Colorado testing burden

Task force recommends reducing Colorado testing burden

Despite agreeing that Colorado tests its students too much, a state task force was unable to find many places to cut tests other than in high school, a reflection of both stringent federal requirements and divergent views over the value of assessments.

The 15-member advisory panel, created in the last legislative session, met for the final time Monday after six months of talks.

Although it still must finalize a report to present to the legislature before month’s end, the task force agreed to urge elimination of all testing for high school seniors and a reduction for juniors.

But the group split on continuing to test ninth-graders in math and English, and on whether social studies tests should be scrapped altogether.

Beyond that, Colorado has little choice but to follow federal law mandating CLICK TO KEEP READING

By Eric Gorski


Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. Let’s see, eliminate all tests for seniors. Reduce tests for juniors. Eliminate testing ninth and English for ninth graders. Do away with tests for fourth and seventh graders on Social Studies.

    Hopefully, the colleges these tender young ones apply to will be as accepting. Now then if we can only get their employers to forget about their annual reviews. Plus we should get the foreign competition in this world wide economy to be as nice. Then these kids can sail through life without tasting reality. Not going to happen.

    Many teachers do not like testing because of the issues it raises. I said testing, not a specific test. Think about it, if it were simply that the test was irrelevant then after all these years, and all this debate, wouldn’t some teacher, somewhere have come up with a relevant test for the subject matter they are teaching? Wouldn’t some district have reviewed this test and tried it out across their various schools, then offered it up the line to the state.

    Iowa seems to come to mind, but that was them, how would our Colorado Educators fix the problem? How come they have never come to the table with some series of tests that they say fits the curriculum, is relevant to the students in the schools, and has valid predictive value. The only alternative they keep offering is no standardized testing. Without a goal in mind, how do you know if you are reaching your objective. Surely, there is some way of measuring a students progress, providing this feedback to the parents and community, and holding educators responsible for meeting these goals. Given there are societal differences that do not fairly deal the cards to the various schools, but adjust for this, do not throw away any and all measuring tools.

  2. A major problem is that our current system encourages and incentivizes schools and teachers to teach to the test. This is a different goal from EDUCATING. An unhealthy focus on testing will damage real learning in schools. The new accountability system under PARCC is not the right solution.

    We often make links between business and education…”let’s run our schools like a business”, “we need to fire the bottom 10 percent”, “our competitiveness is falling behind” but that line of thinking separates us from a more important reality which is that education is about individual human development. Children are not widgets.

    As our country and state move toward greater standardization of education (which is the objective of the Common Core and No Child Left Behind), our public education system will become more resistant to change and our ability to foster innovative, divergent thinking will go away. This current struggle is an excellent example of just how resistant the system already is. What’s wrong with letting our superintendents make decisions for the students of their districts?

    I think an equally relevant business comparison is to look at test data the same way we look at profits. It CAN be a relevant measure, but it is way too susceptible to manipulation and fraud – particularly when you base evaluation systems around it. We now see this with coverage about national cheating scandals and the criminalization of our educators. We need to stop using tests in this way.

  3. You are absolutely right that education is about human development. It seems that we diverge following that agreement.

    Each kid has one, and only one year to learn the expectations for that grade level. If they do not learn those lessons then, it becomes harder and harder for them to ever catch up. Because of this, I do not want to see any child losing out on their development due to an inferior teacher.
    I served 4 years on the Jefferson High School SIPC. During this time I heard all of the arguments: JCPS highest proportion of free and reduced lunch; high proportion of parents with second jobs; parental indifference; low valuation of education due to cultural differences; etc.

    To a point each of these are somewhat valid. But if you keep accepting them as being valid, you are dooming those kids and their offspring to a permanent status as an underculture. I am still waiting for those new and innovative techniques you are talking about to lift the test scores of those in Jefferson High School. They are still at the bottom of Jefferson County Public School’s ratings. Further, while the change from test style to test style makes inter period comparisons hard, it does not look like they have gained much ground.

    The fact of the matter is there are some teachers who should have never taken up the profession. There are other teachers who are retired in place. In both of these cases it is the students who bear the impact of their unsuitability, not the teachers themselves. That is why we need to start holding teachers accountable for the hands they have been dealt. That does not mean directly comparing Jefferson to say Ralston Valley. But it does mean comparing Jefferson to Jefferson following those students through their educational careers.

  4. Both of your issues involve educational structure. Why do you want grade levels now? Why are students dependent on one teacher rather than have access to multiple teachers?
    There were experiments were these things were changed but they did not have the supporting infrastructure to make the experiments work well. There changes are not trivial but need to be well thought out but without the fundamental structural change I do not expect schools now to be much better than the ones 60 years ago, but they will be less able to prepare students for the future than the ones then.
    Student, teachers, and parents are all victims of the structure.

  5. I agree with you that the current structure is not working for the students. As I noted on another post I spent 4 years on Jefferson High Schools SIPC nearly 30 years ago. At that time, Jefferson was at the bottom of JCPS performance on numerous levels. Today, it is still basically the same story for those kids in the schools matriculation community.

    What really ticks me off is that these students are being sacrificed in a system that we know is not working for them. I am not issuing a blanket condemnation for every teacher in the school’s area, I knew many of them to be fine, compassion driven workers at that time. I also knew that the school’s area included many teachers that should not have been in the classroom. Unfortunately, NEA/CEA/JCEA/AFT were more interested in protecting the jobs of those involved than in truly meeting the needs of the kids.

    The district continually cries about a lack of funds. Well, if you look at their budget, we are spending over $1,000 per day per classroom attempting to give those kids an education. Perhaps some needed funding may be required, but I will only support it if we include a meaningful way of removing underperforming teachers from the classroom.

  6. n my children’s school, they just started computerized testing of the kindergardeners, including my child.
    The teacher told me yesterday that one kid was a really good guesser and
    he kept getting placed into higher and higher levels. He had no comprehension of
    what he was doing–no idea what was going on. The teacher and student
    started celebrating when he was guessing wrong so that they could
    accurately gauge what level he was really on. It’s really insane. They are 5 years old!

  7. Your point about one child being a “good guesser” substantively proves my point I made in my original post about the lack of validity studies on these ridiculous tests. One of the most common indicators of a bad test item or set of test items is that they are easily guessed at by the test taker. As a former tests & measurements specialist I know this to be a hard, cold fact.

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