Saturday, March 28, 2015
It's over. It's not over. A Few Thoughts from a Few Weeks in the Life of a Test Administrator (I mean teacher).
Friday, March 20, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I am a history teacher at Elyria High School writing to address comments you made in an article today in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. First, stakeholders in education, administrators, parents, students and teachers ARE in fact concerned about the AIR tests in American History and American Government. You said yourself in the article that people use the term PARCC for all of the tests. While we know this is inaccurate, it does indicate that there are issues with ALL tests. Yes, some complaints are PARCC specific regarding inappropriate common core standards and reading levels on the tests. The issue you are choosing to ignore that includes the social studies tests is that they were designed to be PARCC-like. They use the same faulty technology, have the same issues with multiple source questions, and force testing in two windows, Feb/Mar and Apr/May. Contrary to your comments in the PD, this is still too much testing. I have been, and will remain active in the political process to limit testing to the former, OAA/OGT, system, if not something even less intrusive than that. You and your colleagues have created an assessment mess in Ohio that needs to be fixed. I do not seek, however, to place blame, only to facilitate positive change.
I realize that this testing shift was not created by your SB165. That bill, however, is problematic in itself. While I appreciate your patriotism and dedication to these historic documents, I believe that requiring them at multiple grade levels is a bit redundant, and has them taught outside of their historic context in American History. The A.H. curriculum in grade 10, as I'm sure you are aware, deals with content between 1865 and the present. The documents are all relative to events prior. Now, as professional educators we are actively looking for ways to meaningfully include the documents in this odd context. I would, however, argue that they are better suited for the government curriculum in which they also appear.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Friday, March 13, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Thursday, March 5, 2015
In the fall of last year Representative Andrew Brenner made a proposal to limit standardized testing to 4 hours per subject per year. Needless to say, the change would have had little effect at most levels. Because it did not meaningfully impact my students at the high school level, I emailed Rep Brenner to express my concern. I closed my email with the phrase "get ahold of me when you actually accomplish something."
He called me the next day, on the attack, assuming I was a nut job who knew nothing of his bill. When he found that was not the case, he assured me that bill was "just a beginning." I told him to let me know if I could be of assistance going forward.
Well, he is a man of his word. HB74 would limit high school tests to 3 hours per subject per year. In the words of his colleague Steve Huffman of the 80th District, "This will keep our students from being over-tested." I disagree. Below are my thoughts just emailed to Rep Brenner, and will email to all House Reps if this bill goes forward. What do you think? Let Andy Brenner know... http://www.ohiohouse.gov/andrew-brenner
I am a History Teacher from Elyria, Ohio. I would first like to commend you on your attempt, however incomplete, to remedy the issue of over-testing at the high school level. HB74's provision to limit testing to 3 hours per subject per year sounds like a significant measure. It is obviously more ambitious than your proposal from the fall that set the limitation at 4 hours. We spoke via telephone when you called my home after I critiqued that bill, and fortunately it went nowhere.
While 4 hours had almost no effect on the existing system, 3 has little effect. This limit would impact testing in ELA and Mathematics, but do nothing to remedy over-testing in Science and Social Studies. The problem is in addressing this issue strictly in terms of time. This approach does nothing to limit testing sessions (multiple in math and ELA), and ignores the fact that students take the Performance Based Assessment in February/March and the End of Year Assessment in April/May. Regardless of time limitations, this system is terribly disruptive in the way it must be scheduled, and creates a situation where an increase in test review is absolutely necessary. This maintains an increase in testing over the former system which only furthers the culture of assessment which robs our students of instruction time.
While many will appreciate the waiver for online testing that HB74 provides for 15-16, this only delays the inevitable, necessitating the administration of convoluted, confusing, and inappropriate computer based tests. The proposed system of allowing average Ohioans to comment on standards will certainly provide an excellent forum for people to vent, but really does not equate to meaningful dialogue. A better solution would be a forum of content specialists and teachers without bureaucrats or test company reps.
While I appreciate the sentiment in HB74, I hope you will consider a revision. Let me know if there is anything I can do to be of assistance.