Category Archives: Testing

Why paying teachers for student test scores is a bad idea

While everyone in British Columbia is paying attention to the teachers’ strike, the Fraser Institute launched its latest effort to marketize education. This week the Fraser Institute, a neoliberal think tank, released a report promoting incentivized pay for teachers.

Teacher Incentive Pay That Works, summarizes 10 “case studies” from around the globe, which the Fraser Institute argues illustrates successful incentive pay programs. The press release for the report is titled “Evidence shows teacher incentive pay improves student performance,” which is ironic since the report ignores the long history of these schemes, and studiously avoids the details of the debate around value-added measurements in the United States (which is currently enthralled in a public revolt against test-driven education), as well as evidence illustrating damage done to schools and learning under such schemes.

The Illusion of Paying Teachers for Performance

… history shows that any pay-for-performance gains are mostly illusions. Not only do they fail to improve student achievement, they are also destructive, encouraging administrators and teachers to cheat by manipulating statistics, or by teaching to the test. Inevitably, children wind up the losers because curricula are narrowed to include subjects that can be taught by drill and repetition and that are easily measured. (Wilms & Chapleau, 1999)

Wilms and Chapleau note that pay-for-performance was first rolled out in England, around 1710! Teachers’ salaries were based on their students’ scores on examinations in the “three ‘Rs.” “This early payment-for-results system had great appeal because it promised to help keep children from poor families in school, where they might learn the basics.”

The scheme became a permanent fixture in English schools by 1862 (as part of the Revised Education Code) and was in effect for over 30 years. Historical accounts of England’s scheme describe teachers and administrators as becoming obsessed with the systems financial rewards, which according to Wilms and Chapleau were dubbed “the cult of the [cash] register.”

Curriculum was narrowed to include just the easily measured basics. The sciences and the arts, along with many other non-tested activities disappeared from schools (foreshadowing the disappearance of recess from elementary schools in the United States as a result of the test driven reforms like Obama’s Race To The Top).

Teaching became increasingly mechanical, as teachers found that drill and rote repetition produced the “best” results. One schools inspector wrote an account of children reading flawlessly for him while holding their books upside down.

The English system of pay for performance produced a mechanical approach to teaching and learning that eroded teacher creativity. Standards for student success (or failure) were spelled out in detail (just as the new Fraser Institute reports as a “Key Lesson 1” in their study, “Define what we expect teachers to do.”)

An inspector wrote that the Education Code “did all the thinking for the teacher; it told him in precise detail what he was to do each year.” Another recalled, “Every teacher in the country takes his orders from the Code, studies the Code, and devotes his energies to satisfy or to circumvent it.”

Predictably the English system imploded in a cheating scandal that included falsification of records and teachers coaching student through examinations, not unlike the recent massive cheating scandal in Atlanta, Georgia and across the USA, which highlights deleterious effects of test-driven education.

the overwhelming judgment was that it was unsound policy. Cynics referred to schools as “grant factories” and children as “grant-earning units.”

In the later third of the 19th Century, teacher pay-by-results appeared briefly in Canada. Student achievement initially rose but, as in England, teachers started to focus on students who were most likely to succeed, turning their classrooms into test prep centres. By 1883 the Canadian experiment ended as a result of public outrage.

One hundred years later in the United States, the Nixon administration funded an experiment in “performance contracting” in which school funding was tied to students standardized test scores. The experiment provided incentives for administrators, teachers, and students. Private contractors, who were suppose to bring innovation and business know-how to the effort, were given contracts in 18 cities to raise student achievement levels in reading and math.

Turns out contractors offered no pedagogical innovations only teaching to the test. The project was declared a failure in the midst of poor results and a cheating scandal.

As Wilms and Chapleau illustrate, the wake of pay-for-results education reforms is strewn with detritus of dishonest behaviour (cheating, falsifying records) and teaching to the test.

Similar incentive efforts in the 1990s and the recent examples of cheating scandals in Atlanta and Texas prove that incentive pay reform is a failed idea.

Flawed Logic of Performance Pay

Donald Gratz, the author of Perils and Promise of Performance Pay, describes the flawed logic of incentive pay plans that aim to boost student achievement.

False assumptions #1: Teachers lack motivation.

Teachers care about their students and want them to succeed. “Does anyone really think that large numbers of teachers know what their students need but are willfully withholding it? That they would help students learn more, if only someone offered them a bonus to do so? This is a highly cynical view of teachers, one that teachers understandably find demeaning, not motivational.”

False Assumption #2: Schools are Failing

The manufactured crisis of school failure is a basis for corporate education reform or what is also called the Global Education Reform Movement (Berliner & Biddle, 1995). This is not to say that there aren’t troubled schools or that public schools do not need to be improved, but most students have higher levels of academic achievement now than in the past.

False Assumption #3: Measuring Academic Achievement is All that Counts

“If we want students to develop as well-rounded human beings who are empathetic, thoughtful, and creative, we will have to include these characteristics among our goals for schools and seek ways to gauge our success. A system that rewards schools, students, and teachers only for test scores will get mostly test scores. This is not what most of us want for our children.”

And What About the Research on Incentive Pay?

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has compiled information surveying the research on paying teaching for test scores and concludes that it is a practice that damages schools and undermines learning.

Paying for higher test scores creates score inflation, not genuine learning. Paying for test scores encourages teaching to the test, which creates inflated results without improving learning. (Koretz, 2009; Madaus, Ressell & Higgins, 2009; Nichols & Berliner, 2007)

Payment for performance narrows the curriculum to what is tested and leads to reduced focus on or elimination of important subjects, such as social studies, science, art, music, and physical education. (McMurrer, 2007; Morton & Dalton, 2007)

It is unfair and ineffective to pay teachers for test results that are often marred by scoring and other errors. (Rhoades & Madaus, 2003).

Payment for gains in student scores does not solve the problem of test-induced educational damage. There are too many flaws in “value-added” measurement approaches to trust the results. (McCaffrey, et al., 2005; Bracey, 2007; National Research Council, 2009)

Most teachers’ primary motivation is not high pay. If it were, they would have chosen another profession. Teachers know test scores are a poor barometer of their abilities, so pay for performance damages rather than enhances their sense of professionalism and morale (Whitford & Jones, 2000; Nichols & Berliner, 2007). It can decrease motivation (Ryan & LaGuardia, 1999). Payment for “performance” also has been shown to increase cheating (Pfeffer, 2007).

Payment for test scores may not even to raise student scores and has been shown in one country to reduce scores. This is despite the extensive evidence of score inflation from teaching the test (Martins, 2009; Springer, Podgursky, & Lewis, 2009).

Paying individual teachers for student scores encourages unhealthy competition. Incentive pay may reduce cooperation among teachers and can cause divisions among staff and parents (MacInnis, 2009; Pfeffer, 2007). In addition the OECD has recently released a report that says competition in education is a failed policy. The bottom-line:

Research on pay for performance finds that it rests on dubious assumptions and lacks evidence it succeeds, and there is good evidence that it often fails.

References

Berliner, D. C., & Biddle, B. J. (1995). The manufactured crisis: Myths, fraud, and the attack on America’s public schools. New York: Basic Books.

Bracey, J. 2007. Evaluating value added. FairTest Examiner, July. http://www.fairtest.org/whats-value-growth- measures

Bradshaw, W. J., & Gallup, A. M. (2008, September). Americans speak out: Are educators and policy makers listening? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(10), 7–31.

Gratz, D. B. (2009). Perils and promise of performance pay. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Koretz, D. (2009, April 29). What’s Missing in Obama’s Education Plan? Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/04/29/30koretz_ep.h28.html?tkn=QTLFEqyaUfgkzI4vRyp6Q0c2kzhDTpngNM 9B&print=1

MacInnes, G. (2009). Eight reasons not to tie teacher pay to standardized test results. Century Foundation Issue Brief. http://www.tcf.org/publications/education/gordon%20brief.pdf

Madaus, G., Russell, M., & Higgins, J. (2009). The Paradoxes of high stakes testing. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Martins, P. (2009, March). Individual teacher incentives, student achievement and grade inflation. Queen Mary, University of London, CEG-IST and IZA, Discussion Paper No. 4051.

McCaffrey, D., Koretz, D., Lockwood, J.R., & Hamilton, L. (2005). Evaluating value-added models for teacher accountability. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

McMurrer, J. (2007). Choices, changes, and challenges: Curriculum and instruction in the NCLB Era. Center on Education Policy. http://www.cep-dc.org/

Morton, B. & Dalton, B. (2007). Changes in instructional hours in four subjects by public school teachers of grades 1 through 4 (Issue Brief). National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007305

National Research Council, Board on Testing and Assessment. (2009). Letter Report to the U.S. Department of Education on the Race to the Top Fund. National Academy of Sciences, available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12780

Nichols, S.L, & Berliner, D.C. (2007). Collateral damage: How high-stakes testing corrupts America’s schools. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

OECD. (2014). When is competition between schools beneficial? PISA in focus, 42. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/PISA%20in%20Focus%20N42%20(eng)–Final.pdf

Pfeffer, J. (2007). Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives. http://federalworkforce.oversight.house.gov/documents/20070313111150-45256.pdf

Rhoades, K. & Madaus, G., (2003). Errors in standardized tests: A systemic problem. Boston College. http://www.bc.edu/nbetpp

Ryan, R. M., & La Guardia, J. G. (1999). Achievement motivation within a pressured society: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to learn and the politics of school reform. In T. Urdan (Ed.) Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol 11). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Springer, M., Podgursky, M., & Lewis, J. (2009). Texas Educator Excellence Grant (TEEG) program: Year two evaluation report. http://www.performanceincentives.org/ncpi_publications/policybriefs.asp

Whitford, B. L., & Jones, K. (2000). Accountability, assessment, and teacher commitment. Albany: SUNY Press.

Wilms, W. W., & Chapleau, R. R. (1999, November 3). The illusion of paying teachers for student performance. Education Week, 19(10), 34, 48.

Cultural Logic Releases Three Volumes of Critical Scholarship In One Day

Cultural Logic has just announced an epic launch of three volumes of critical scholarship addressing a wide range of issues.

Cultural Logic, which has been on-line since 1997, is a open access, non-profit, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes essays, interviews, poetry, reviews (books, films, other media), etc. by writers working within the Marxist tradition.

Volumes 2011 and 2012 were edited by David Siar.

Volume 2013 is the open access version the Education for Revolution issue that was published by Works & Days in December 2013, which I co-edited with Rich Gibson. Thanks to everyone for your contributions, to David Downing and his team for publishing the issue in Works & Days, to David Siar for his editorial and site management, and to Joe Ramsey for suggesting the WD/CL collaboration for the Education for Revolution issue.

Below are the Contents for Volumes 2011, 2012, and 2013

Cultural Logic, Volume 2011
Articles
Mathias Dapprich
“A Contribution Towards a Critical Theory of School Shootings”

Jerry Leonard
“Reading Notes on Sangeeta Ray’s Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Polemic with Digressions on a Theory of Irreducibility”

Ronald Paul
“The Politics of the Personal in Edward Upward’s The Spiral Ascent”

Spyros Sakellaropoulos
“On the Causes of the Civil War in Nepal and the Role of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)”

Larry Schwartz
“Apocalypse Then: Philip Roth’s Indignation”

Daniel Silvermintz
“Enlightenment in the Shopping Mall”

Response and Counter-Response
Mike Jones
“Some Comments on Sven-Eric Holmström’s ‘New Evidence’ Concerning the Hotel Bristol in the First Moscow Trial of 1936”

Sven-Eric Holmström
“Reply to Mike Jones”

Poetry
Christopher Barnes
(From) The Electric Chair Poems

Cultural Logic, Volume 2012
Articles
Julianne Buchsbaum
“Alienation, Reification, and Narrativity in Russell Banks’ Affliction”

Alzo David-West
“North Korea and the Theory of the Deformed Workers’ State: Definitions and First Principles of a Fourth International Theory”

Haidar Eid
“White Noise: Representations of (Post)modern Intelligentsia”

Doug Enaa Greene
“Leninism and Blanquism”

Desmond Peeples
“Toward an Anarcho-Empiricism: Integrating Precedent, Theory, and Impetus in the Anarchist Project”

E. San Juan, Jr.
“In Lieu of Saussure: A Prologue to Charles Sanders Peirce’s Theory of Signs”

Huei-ju Wang
“Becoming ‘Migrant John’: John Steinbeck and His Migrants and His (Un)conscious turn to Marx”

Poetry
George Snedeker
Selected Poems

Cultural Logic, Education for Revolution, Volume 2013
Preface
E. Wayne Ross & Rich Gibson
“Education for Revolution”

Foreword
David B. Downing, Nicholas P. Katsiadas, Tracy J. Lassiter & Reza Parchizadeh
“Forward to the Revolution” (Forward to the Works & Days Edition)

Articles
Rich Gibson
“Barbarism Rising: Detroit, Michigan and the International War of the Rich on the Poor”

E. Wayne Ross & Kevin D. Vinson
“Resisting Neoliberal Education Reform: Insurrectionist Pedagogies and the Pursuit of Dangerous Citizenry”

Julie A. Gorlewski & Brad J. Porfilio
“Reimaging Solidarity: Hip-Hop as Revolutionary Pedagogy”

Timothy Patrick Shannon & Patrick Shannon
“Learning to Be Fast Capitalists on a Flat World”

Brian D. Lozenski, Zachary A. Casey & Shannon K. McManimon
“Contesting Production: Youth Participatory Action Research in the Struggle to Produce Knowledge”

Mike Cole
“Schooling for Capitalism or Education for Twenty-First Century Socialism?”

Curry Stephenson Malott
“Class Consciousness and Teacher Education: The Socialist Challenge and the Historical Context”

Deborah P. Kelsh
“The Pedagogy of Excess”

John Maerhofer
“Undermining Capitalist Pedagogy: Takiji Kobayashi’s Toseikatsusha and the Ideology of the World Literature Paradigm”

Grant Banfield
“Marxist Sociology of Education and the Problem of Naturalism: An Historical Sketch”

David J. Blacker
“The Illegitimacy of Student Debt”

Alan J. Singer
“Hacking Away at the Corporate Octopus”

Richard A. Brosio
“A Tale of Two Cities —— and States”

Alan Spector
“SDS, the 1960s, and Education for Revolution”

The latest test resistance news (Compiled by FairTest)

Alaska Repeals High School Exit Exam, Plans to Award Withheld Diploma
http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/new-education-bill-could-help-those-without-diplomas/26378278

New Connecticut State Tests Mean Less Time for Teaching and Learning
http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20140604/NEWS/140609555

One Florida Mother Has Had it With High Stakes Testing
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/one-mother-has-had-it-with-high-stakes-public-school-tests-whats-her-next/2183397

Union Challenges Florida’s Test-Based “Merit Pay” Law as “Irrational”
http://tbo.com/news/education/teachers-and-union-appeal-state-merit-pay-ruling-20140605/

Indiana State-Federal Assessments Stand-off Illustrates Politically Driven Testing Charade
http://www.jconline.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/06/06/editorial-istep-fight-far-classroom/10073887/

Louisiana School Grades Distort Picture of Education
http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/opinion/9373801-171/letter-tests-dont-show-whole

Gov. Jindal Wants to Pull Louisiana Out of Common Core Testing
http://theadvocate.com/home/9382945-125/jindal-says-he-wants-state

Maine School Grading System Has Major Flaws
http://courier.mainelymediallc.com/news/2014-06-05/Editorial/Beyond_the_Headlines.html

New Massachusetts Teacher Union President Supports Three-Year Moratorium on Standardized Testing
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/06/05/massachusetts-teachers-association-new-president-rejects-assessments-testing-and-other-education-policies/N4LWsYjMXyc3ON98pxnPJP/story.html#

New Jersey Testing Concerns Grow as PARCC Phase-In Begins
http://www.edlawcenter.org/news/archives/secondary-reform/testing-concerns-grow-as-parcc-phase-in-begins.html

More Questions on Accuracy of New Mexico Teacher Evaluations
http://www.abqjournal.com/412073/news/more-questions-on-evals-accuracy.html

Upstate New York School Districts Say “No” to Pearson Field Tests
http://www.rochesterhomepage.net/story/d/story/districts-say-no-to-field-testing/34312/RgeZZhyTcEKUTTnUeoLG_A

Field Test is Exercise in Futility
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/gonzalez-practice-testing-state-mandated-exercise-futility-article-1.1817474

Just Say “No” to NY Field Tests
http://www.wnyc.org/story/opinion-tell-parents-they-can-just-say-no-field-tests/

New Yorkers Demand Release of Test Questions for Public Inspection
https://www.votervoice.net/NYSAPE/campaigns/36307/respond

New York Republican Legislators Promote Plan to Review Common Core Assessments
http://www.longislandexchange.com/press-releases/common-core-cant-be-forgotten/

Bill Would End Pearson’s Common Core Testing Contract
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2014/06/04/senator-wants-pearson-ties-cut/9969003/

Why I Despise North Carolina’s End-of-Grade Tests
http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20140604/LETTERS/140609887/1107/opinion?Title=Let-the-tests-begin

Ohio’s Standardized Tests: What’s the Point?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-klodell/standardized-tests_b_5448020.html

Oklahoma Schools Challenge Flawed Writing Test Scores
http://www.koco.com/news/school-districts-say-test-scores-inaccurate-asking-for-rescore/26314828#!UfudR

Standardized Tests for Tennessee Learning Disabled Students Make Little Sense
http://www.dnj.com/article/20140605/OPINION/306050010

Bringing Transparency to Tennessee Testing
http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2014/06/09/bring-transparency-school-testing-process/10202061/

Vermont to Develop Local Proficiency Standards, Not State Exit Exam
http://www.vnews.com/news/12274494-95/vt-schools-to-create-new-high-school-proficiency-standards

Virginia Kids Are Not “All Right” Due to High-Stakes Testing
http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/guest-columnists/lehman-testing—the-kids-are-not-all-right/article_f7d8f824-72a3-5763-a7d9-2a6704d30bab.html

NCLB Falsely Labels Wyoming Schools as “Failing”
http://trib.com/opinion/columns/thompson-wyoming-schools-are-failing-try-again/article_8ace31e9-c1c2-52e8-82e6-a00b550037ec.html

Obama-Duncan Education Policies Test Our Patience
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/books/chi-0608-biblioracle-20140606,0,3100945,full.column

What Happens When a Student Fails a High-Stakes Test
http://conversationed.com/2014/05/27/the-academic-life-cycle-of-a-non-proficient-student/

This Is Not a Test: Jose Vilson’s Vision of Race, Class and Education in the U.S.
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24112-testing-narrative-jose-vilsons-vision-of-race-class-and-education-in-the-us

You Don’t Fatten a Pig By Weighing It
http://www.laep.org/2014/06/03/you-dont-fatten-a-pig-by-weighing-it/

Testing Overkill Won’t Draw In Better Teachers
http://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/06/04/sally-butzin-testing-bring-better-teachers/9978157/

Correcting a Harmful Misuse of Test Scores
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/assessing_the_assessments/2014/06/correcting_a_harmful_misuse_of_students_test_scores.html

Morality, Validity and the Design of Instructionally Sensitive Tests
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/assessing_the_assessments/2014/06/morality_validity_and_the_design_of_instructionally_sensitive_tests.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

Common Core Assessment Sales Job is a Hoax
http://mobile.gazettenet.com/home/12038490-108/louise-law-john-stifler-look-between-the-lines-on-education-reform

National Principals Groups Seeks Pause in Common Core Assessments
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/03/national-principals-group-urges-slowdown-in-common-core-implementation/

“We Will Not Let an Exam Decide Our Fate”
http://conversationed.com/2014/05/30/i-will-not-let-an-exam-result-decide-my-fate-spoken-word-video/

I Am a Scientist with Learning Disabilities, And That’s OK
http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2014/06/10/im-scientist-learning-disabilities-thats-okay/

Support Chicago teachers refusing to give the ISAT standardized test

[via Pauline Lipman]

Colleagues,

Please sign attached letter of support for Chicago teachers refusing to
give the ISAT standardized test. Teachers at Saucedo elementary school in
Little Village (serving mainly Mexican children) took the courageous stand
to support parents who are opting out of the test by refusing to
administer it. CEO Barbara Byrd Bennet sent teachers a threatening memo
threatening any teacher who boycotted the test with being fired and having
her license revoked. Nonetheless, teachers at a second school have just
joined the boycott. Please add your name to this letter. We need a strong
national showing now. Testing will begin next week so we need to move on
this now. The letter will be posted on numerous websites and may be read
at press conferences at the schools. (more background below)

PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS LETTER WIDELY
TO SIGN, PLEASE SEND YOUR NAME, TITLE, AND UNIVERSITY AFFILIATION TO:
gutstein@uic.edu

Thank you for your solidarity.

Pauline

Pauline Lipman
Professor, Educational Policy Studies
College of Education
University of Illinois-Chicago
1040 W. Harrison, MC 147
Chicago IL 60607-7133
312-413-4413

BACKGROUND
CPS has announced that this year the ISAT test has no impact on students’
grade promotion or admission into selective programs. The ISAT is no
longer part of the “school performance policy” nor will it be used to
evaluate teachers. CPS’s claim that the ISAT is aligned to Common Core
standards is dubious at best since the PARCC exam, which is being designed
to measure performance on those standards, has been years in the making
and has yet to be released. The ISAT will not help teachers understand
their students or improve instruction for them. Because CPS has not
provided any valid reason to give this test hundreds of parents have opted
their children out of this test.

LETTER
February 28, 2014

STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR CHICAGO TEACHERS REFUSING TO ADMINISTER THE ILLINOIS STANDARD ACHIEVEMENT TEST

FROM UNIVERSITY EDUCATION FACULTY

As university faculty whose responsibilities include preparing future educators, we support the action of teachers at the Saucedo Elementary School in Chicago who are refusing to administer the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT). Over a decade of research shows that an over emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests narrows curriculum, creates social and emotional stress for students and families, drives committed teachers out of the profession, and turns schools into test-prep factories with principals forced to comply as overseers—especially in low-scoring schools. We understand assessment as the process of gathering evidence about learning, from multiple sources, so that teachers can better support student learning. The ISAT, in contrast, contributes virtually nothing. CPS no longer uses the ISAT for promotion, graduation, or eligibility for selective-enrollment schools and is phasing it out after this year. It is not aligned with Common Core State Standards—which, regardless of how one sees them, Illinois has already adopted—and does not help teachers improve student learning. The pre-service teachers with whom we work are demoralized about a future of teaching in such a test-driven atmosphere. We teach our students—future educators—to stand up for their students, families and communities, and to take principled stands for social justice. That’s what the Saucedo teachers are doing. We applaud them and stand with them.

Signed

Pauline Lipman, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education
Rico Gutstein, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education

NATIONAL ASSESSMENT REFORM LEADERS ENDORSE SEATTLE TEACHERS’ SCHOOL TEST BOYCOTT; CALL FOR MORE EDUCATORS, PARENTS TO “JOIN IN”

FairTest
National Center for Fair & Open Testing

for further information:

Dr. Monty Neill (617) 477-9792

Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

for immediate release Monday, January 14, 2013

NATIONAL ASSESSMENT REFORM LEADERS ENDORSE

SEATTLE TEACHERS’ SCHOOL TEST BOYCOTT;

CALL FOR MORE EDUCATORS, PARENTS TO “JOIN IN”

The country’s leading testing reform organization today announced its support for the boycott of Seattle Public Schools’ Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) exam launched by teachers at Garfield High School. National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) Executive Director Dr. Monty Neill said, “Children across the U.S. suffer from far too much standardized testing that is misused to judge students, teachers and schools. We applaud Garfield High educators who refused to administer these useless exams and urge others to join in.”

Dr. Neill explained, “Seattle requires administration of the MAP tests three times per year. This eliminates days of valuable teaching time and ties up the school’s computer labs for weeks. The tests are used to judge teachers even though they are not aligned with the state’s standards and not instructionally helpful. The Northwest Evaluation Association, which makes the test, says the MAPs are not accurate enough to evaluate individual teachers. No wonder some Seattle parents began opting their children out of these pointless tests even before the teachers’ boycott.”

“Nationally, students are inundated with tests far beyond the ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB) requirement to assess students annually in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school,” Dr. Neill continued. “States and especially large city districts have piled on many more tests. For example, Chicago tests kindergarteners 14 or more times per year. Many of these tests were added to obtain federal NCLB waivers, which force states and districts to impose more exams so they can judge teachers by student scores.”

According to FairTest, the high stakes attached to tests have led to narrowing curriculum, teaching to the test, score inflation and cheating scandals. Despite the focus on tests, scores gains on the independent National Assessment of Educational Progress have slowed since the 2002 start of NCLB and are well below pre-NCLB score increases. Score gaps between whites and African Americans and Latinos have stopped narrowing.

“High-stakes testing is undermining the quality of U.S. schools and the education our children deserve,” Dr. Neill concluded. “Teachers and parents who boycott standardized exams are taking the lead to reduce over-testing and the consequences attached to it. President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Congress, governors, state legislators, and local school officials need to heed these voices and stop imposing unnecessary and educational harmful testing.”

Digest of articles about “testing season” from FairTest

Bringing Real Reform to Schools — a letter from a Connecticut teacher
http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Bringing-real-reform-to-schools-3532712.php

State Officials Throw Out Another Pearson Test Question
http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/05/02/state-officials-throw-out-another-pearson-test-question/

Pearson Defends its Tests
http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/05/04/pearson-says-its-tests-are-valid-and-reliable/

No Accountability for Test-Makers
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/04/2783911/whos-accountable-for-the-fcat.html

Beware Corporations Lobbying, Then Profiting from Education Reform
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/may/07/sandra-reinhard-beware-corporations-lobbying/

Guess When This Warning About Testing Was Written
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/guess-when-this-warning-about-testing-was-written/2012/05/06/gIQAQqEX6T_blog.html

Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/education/new-procedure-for-teaching-license-draws-protest.html?ref=education

Open Letter to the New York State Regents from New York State Professors Against High Stakes Testing

Open Letter to the New York State Regents from New York State Professors Against High Stakes Testing

March 30, 2012

As lifelong educators and researchers, from across the State of New York, we strongly oppose New York State’s continued reliance on high stakes standardized testing in public schools as the primary criterion for assessing student achievement, evaluating teacher effectiveness, and determining school quality. We write to express our professional consensus and concern, and to offer our assistance to the Regents in generating educationally sound alternatives to high-stakes testing as the primary strategy for assessment in New York State.

Researchers and educational organizations have consistently documented, and a nine-year study by the National Research Council has recently confirmed, that the past decade’s emphasis on testing has yielded little learning progress. In New York State and New York City, the consequences of testing policies have been most disappointing.

Disparate impact on students. Numerous studies document that the over-reliance on high-stakes testing bears adverse impact on student achievement and has been accompanied by widening racial/ethnic gaps. Using New York City as an example, we see that large numbers of students are performing below proficiency. High numbers of the city’s public school graduates fail the CUNY entry tests and are required to take remedial courses. Results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggest a failure to achieve significant reduction in the achievement gap separating New York City’s white students from African American and Latino students since 2003. The negative effects of our high-stakes testing environment are perhaps most pronounced for English Language Learners for whom the tests were not designed, who cumulatively and consistently fail to achieve proficiency within the limited school time (a year and a day) before they are required to take the exam in English. In 2010, 24% of 4th graders labeled as ELLs were deemed proficient in English Language Arts compared to 58% of non-ELLs. By 8th grade only 4% of ELLs were classified as proficient compared to 54% of non-ELLs. It is therefore little surprise that of the 2006 cohort, only 40% of ELLs graduated after four years compared to 75% for non-ELLs.

Negative impact on educators. High-stakes testing creates adverse consequences not only for students but also for educators. Statisticians and educational researchers have challenged the validity, effectiveness, and ethics of using high stakes test scores to evaluate educators. As argued in an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel by CReATE (Chicago Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education), “There is no evidence that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement. [and] Teachers will subtly but surely be incentivized to avoid students with health issues, students with disabilities, students who are English Language Learners, or students suffering from emotional issues. Research has shown that no model yet developed can adequately account for all of these ongoing factors.” Given various value added measures, it is not possible to actually identify with accuracy the teachers who are most effective or least effective. This is already causing some highly effective teachers to leave the profession and may very well serve as a significant disincentive for aspiring new teachers to enter the field. The recent release of New York City Teachers Data Reports unleashed a hugely demoralizing media attack on the professional dignity of teachers.

Disparate impact on children who are disrupted by school closings. Finally, we are extremely concerned about the misuse of test scores as the primary criterion for the closing of schools. The 117 schools closings authorized by the New York City Department of Education since 2003 disproportionately affect children receiving special education services, those who receive free and reduced lunch, and those who are English Language Learners.

In conclusion, we stand with the 1400 principals who signed a petition against teacher evaluations based on high-stakes testing. We offer our intellectual support to the State to help generate public policies that bolster schools to be intellectually vibrant environments where inquiry-based pedagogy is encouraged, class sizes are reduced, educators are respected, parents are welcomed, and students are granted dignity while learning. We make ourselves available to the Regents to create just policies to transform the public schools in New York.

Bernadette Anand, Instructor and Advisor, Educational Leadership, Bank Street College
Gary Anderson, Professor of Education Leadership, NYU
Jean Anyon, Professor of Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Lee Anne Bell, Professor, Barbara Silver Horowitz Director of Education, Barnard College
Douglas Biklen, Dean, School of Education, Syracuse University
Sari Knopp Biklen, Laura and Douglas Meredith Professor, School of Education, Syracuse University
Robert Cohen, Professor of Teaching and Learning, NYU
Edward Deci, Professor of Psychology and Helen F. & Fred H. Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences, University of Rochester
Greg Dimitriadis, Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Arnold Dodge, Chair, Department of Educational Leadership and Administration, Long Island University -Post
Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Ofelia Garcia, Professor of Urban Education, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Beverly Greene, Professor of Psychology, St. John’s University
Suzanne Kessler, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Purchase College, SUNY
Wendy Luttrell, Professor of Urban Education and Social-Personality Psychology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Ernest Morrell, Professor, English Education, Teachers College, Columbia University; Director: Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME); Vice President: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Leith Mullings, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Mark D. Naison, Professor of African American Studies, Fordham University
Pedro A. Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University
Celia Oyler, Associate Professor and director of Inclusive Education Programs, Teachers College, Columbia University
Pedro Pedraza, Researcher at El Centro, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY
Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education, New York University and Former Assistant Secretary of Education
Michael Rebell, Professor of Law and Educational Practice, Teachers College, Columbia University
Richard M. Ryan, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education and Director of Clinical Training, Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester
Ira Shor, Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center
Louise Silverstein, Professor of School-Child Clinical Psychology, Ferkauf Graduate School, Yeshiva University
Carola Suarez-Orozco, Professor of Applied Psychology and Co-Director, Immigration Studies at NYU
Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. Professor of Urban History and Director of Center for Urban Studies, University of Buffalo, SUNY
Ethel Tobach, Curator Emerita, American Museum of Natural History
Sofia Villenas, Director, Latino Studies Program and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Education, Cornell University
Lois Weis, State University of New York Distinguished Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy, University at Buffalo, SUNY