Date: Jan 28, 2013 5:54 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: [ncsm-members] Pop quiz on standardized testing

From The Answer Sheet [By Valerie Strauss], The
Washington Post, Wednesday, January 16, 2013. See
Pop quiz on standardized testing

Here's a short quiz on the latest developments in
the world of standardized testing, written by
Lisa Guisbond of the National Center for Fair and
Open Testing, also known as FairTest, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to ending the abuse and
misuse of standardized tests.

By Lisa Guisbond

If you are surprised at the surge of support for
Seattle's Garfield High teachers' boycott of
district-mandated standardized tests, you
probably haven't been paying enough attention.
Perhaps a pop quiz will help. In June, I
constructed a pop quiz on our national obsession
with testing that proved surprisingly popular. It
included questions on subjects such as Florida's
decision to dramatically lower the passing score
on its writing exam due to embarrassing scoring
glitches, New York's eighth grade test and its
absurdly confusing reading comprehension
questions, and who pays for and who profits from
our national testing explosion. It's getting
harder and harder to keep up with fast-moving
developments in the national rebellion against
high-stakes testing, so here's another pop quiz
to keep you on track:

1. What reasons did Garfield High School teachers
give for boycotting the Measure of Academic
Progress tests?

a) "It is not good for our students, nor is it
an appropriate or useful tool in measuring

b) "There seems to be little overlap between
what teachers are expected to teach (state and
district standards) and what is measured on the

c) The district planned to use the test to
evaluate teachers even though the test-maker
itself said it is not accurate enough to be used
to evaluate individual teachers.

d) All of the above.

2. Why did award-winning Florida second-grade
teacher Kim Cook (voted teacher of the year by
her peers) receive an "unsatisfactory" evaluation
that put her job in jeopardy?

a) The Florida legislature passed a law
mandating that 40% of a teacher's evaluation must
be based on student scores on the state's
standardized tests.

b) High marks on the other components of the
evaluation- her principal's appraisal and her
lesson plan-were outweighed by the "value-added
measure" based solely on student test scores.

c) The system used test scores of 3rd graders
from a different school to measure Ms. Cook's
"value added," though Ms. Cook had never taught
any of those children.

d) All of the above.

3. When Vice President Steve Ferrara of the $1.5
billion testing company Pearson blogged that
testing accounts for "a minuscule percentage of
education spending," and "students in grades 3-8
spend about ten hours on end of year tests Š
about a day and a half of school per year," which
of these comments was posted in response?

a) "In my kids' school, there are TWO practice
tests before the real one (our first was before
Thanksgiving), and countless days and weeks of
test prep-type sessions: practice summarizing,
practice finding the "best answer" of 4, practice
underlining and sussing out the main point of
ridiculously contrived articles and stories,
resulting in WEEKS of instructional time
instructing THE TEST. WEEKS. Not TEN HOURS."

b) "While the actual tests are ten hours (which
by the way, is ridiculously too long for a third
grader), the amount of preparation that goes into
getting ready for the tests takes away from
lessons that should focus on critical thinking."

c) "I think it is too much money on tests that
are riddled with errors. I think that writing
tests with a profit motive will lead to cut
corners. The profit has to come from somewhere.
In New York State, tests used to be made up by
groups of teachers. The only motive was writing a
good test. Testing is eating up our entire
educational system. The 11 hours of Pearson
produced state tests my fourth grader is supposed
to take in the spring (she is not because we are
opting her out of them) has put complete control
of the rest of her instructional time in the
hands of Pearson and the State."

d) All of the above.

4. Which of these statements was made by a school
superintendent in the last few months?

a) "I am very troubled by the amount of testing
we are being asked to do. We can teach our way to
the top, but we cannot test our way to the top.

b) "We're getting ready in the state of North
Carolina to put out 177 new exams."

c) "We need a three-year moratorium on all standardized tests."

d) All of the above.

5. In light of growing opposition by parents,
students, teachers, principals, superintendents
and school boards to the overuse and abuse of
standardized testing (including many voters'
rejection of policies favored by the
administration) what has Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan said he will do?

a) "Our basic theory of action is not going to change."

b) "Our job, in a second term, is to support the
bold and transformational reforms at the state
and local level that so many of you have pursued
during the last four years."

c) Continue "to provide incentives and supports"
for states to implement the administration's
favored reforms.

d) All of the above.

6. What can parents, teachers, administrators,
and school board members do to change the costly
and destructive path we are on?

a) Sign the National Resolution on High Stakes
Testing and tell all your friends and relatives
to do the same.

b) Get involved with your local schools to
review and reconsider the amount and uses of

c) Write your members of Congress or your
legislature and tell them federal/state education
policy needs to fundamentally change course and
regain a sane and reasonable approach to
assessment and accountability.

d) Download FairTest's infographic on what's
wrong with standardized tests and pass it around.

e) All of the above.

[The correct answer to all of the questions is "All of the above."]
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244