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Truth About Testing Jan 18 Edit

Truth About Testing Jan 18 Edit

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A pamphlet illuminating the truths and exposing the myths about high stakes testing as a useful tool in evaluating student and school performance.
A pamphlet illuminating the truths and exposing the myths about high stakes testing as a useful tool in evaluating student and school performance.

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Published by: Grassroots Education Movement (NYC) on Mar 01, 2012
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03/01/2012

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studies, music, art, foreign language, and physical educationare left out or taught only minimally. Even within onesubject, high-stakes standardized tests do not- and can not-test the whole curriculum. As a result, the curriculum isnarrowed and the content limited. Many schools see thesehigh-stakes standardized tests as all too important. They donot use their funding for resources such as excellentcurriculum materials, libraries, science labs, musicalinstruments, etc. They use them instead on test-prepmaterials and professional development focused on testing.
The Alternative:
Schools should have a deep, rich andchallenging curriculum that encourages students to think critically and complexly about the material they are learning.The curriculum must include art, music, physical education,science, science labs, social studies, foreign language, andfield trips into the world around them.
 
Myth #5:
 
High-stakes tests accurately measure teacherquality and push teachers to work harder.
 
Truth:
 
High-stakes standardized tests are imperfect andinsufficient measures of student learning and teacher quality
.
Today, the practice of singling out low-scoring schools tourge instructional staffs to improve “unacceptable” testperformance is widespread. In NYC it is done by publiclylabeling schools as “low performing” or “failing.” Themayor’s office argues that such characterization will spur theschool’s staff to do a better job, but in fact it does theopposite. It leads to teaching to the test, or in some cases,mass cheating. The exodus of veteran teachers from schoolsbeing reorganized or phased out because of low test scoresmeans that student populations with the highest needs areleft to teachers with the least experience.
 
The Alternative:
 
 A range of information is needed tomake decisions about whether teachers are doing a good jobat any given school. Administrators should consider teacherobservations, teacher reports, student reports, and meeting with parents—just to name a few. Some public schools thatare granted a waiver from state tests use portfolioassessments and other alternative methods that are bothacademically challenging and connect to students’ interest.
 Who We Are
The Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) to DefendPublic Education is a coalition of educators, parents, andcommunity members. We seek to educate, organize andmobilize our communities against corporate and governmentpolicies that serve to underfund, undermine, and privatizeour public school system. In the summer of 2011 we broughttogether concerned stakeholders from across the city whowere interested in building a campaign exposing thedamaging effects of high-stakes testing. In conjunction withother education advocacy groups we have launched acampaign called Change the Stakes and are working to buildand unite the opposition to these tests in New York City.Contact gemnyc@gmail.com or check out
http://gemnyc.org/ 
 
The Truth About High-Stakes Testing inNYC Public Schools
High-stakes testing has dramatically changed how studentsand teachers experience school. Even young children nowspend a large amount of time in class practicing forstandardized tests. As poor test results lead to school closingsfor some communities and escalating anxiety for the rest, theapproach has generated controversy. Those who supporthigh-stakes tests argue that without high-stakes tests therewould be no accountability. How else would the publicknow whether students are learning basic knowledge andskills? Who could object to using tests to improve schoolsand make sure teachers are doing their jobs?These arguments were the basis for the passage of No ChildLeft Behind in 2002. Over the last decade it has proven tobe a deeply flawed approach. Test-based accountabilitywrongly assumes that higher scores on tests are synonymouswith good education. In fact, a good education includesmany types of learning that cannot be measured on a test.Moreover, test scores may reflect measurement error,statistical error, random variation, or a host of other factors.Do you want your child to be evaluated solely on the basis of an instrument prone to error and ambiguity? Below weoutline the myths and facts related to testing in our schools.
 
Created by The
Grassroots Education Movement
 and the
Change the Stakes Campaign
 http://changethestakes.org/
 or http://gemnyc.org/ 
Contact us: gemnyc@gmail.com
 What is high-stakes testing?
 Tests are considered “high-stakes” for
students
whenthe results are used to make critical decisions about astudent’s:
 
 Access to educational opportunity
 
Grade-level promotion or hold-over
 
Graduation from high schoolIn New York State, the high-stakes nature of test scoresalso impacts
teachers
,
administrators
, and whole
school
 
communities
in that they are rewarded orpunished based on students’ performance.
 Just how high are the stakes in NYC?
 
 
High school students must pass 5 Regents exams toreceive a diploma
 
 All 3rd through 8th graders must pass a state test inELA and math each year to be promoted to the nextgrade
 
Increasingly, test scores are being used to evaluateteachers and to make personnel decisions
 
Test scores are used as a justification for closing schools in predominantly low-income communitiesof color.

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