All Articles Tagged "standardized testing"
(Inside Higher Education) — SAT scores are down this year. And while the College Board played down that news and attributed the falling scores to growth in the test-taking population, the downward shift runs counter to recent patterns. The data also show continuation of a trend that has concerned many educators for years: growing gaps by race and ethnicity in how students perform on average on the test. The trend in recent years has been a point up in one part of the SAT, offset by a point down in another part — with minimal movement in total. But this year saw a three-point decline in critical reading, a one-point decline in mathematics, and a two-point decline in writing.
With the recent cheating scandals across schools in Atlanta and Philadelphia, school boards have a reason to be concerned about how they will continue to grade standardized tests. In an effort to curb educator cheating in New York, a New York State panel has made recommendations for how the state can better administer and grade standardized tests.
According to the New York Times, some of the recommendations which were given on Tuesday need no additional review. Others must be approved by the Board of Regents, which is the state’s education policy board.
John B King Jr., the state education commissioner, and Valerie Grey, the executive deputy commissioner, wrote to the Board of Regents that not enough is being done to expose cheating teachers and principals.
Their memorandum stated that in New York, “as standardized test scores are increasingly utilized for school and district accountability and in teacher and principal evaluation, it is imperative that those tests are not compromised.”
Of the options that the panel hopes that the Board of Regents will approve are: barring teachers from grading and proctoring their own students’ exams, and hiring an independent investigator to examine how cheating complaints are currently handled.
There are also recommendations made by the panel that do not require the Board of Regents approval. For instance, state tests will now begin on the same day throughout districts across the state and educators who proctor or grade state exams must certify that they are trained and have followed security procedures. These recommendations will go into effect immediately.
New York is the only state that grades its standardized tests locally, according to panel observations, and this is a practice that goes against federal recommendations. Subsequently the panel has also decided that officials should consider switching their system statewide to a computer analysis of erasure marks to detect cheating on multiple-choice questions.
As for essay questions, the panel advised state officials that a rotation system would allow questions to be graded outside of the schools in which they were given. In addition, the state should secure test answer sheets for more than a year before they are destroyed.
The panel’s recommendations were commended by Shael Polakow-Suransky, New York City’s chief academic officer. But he also said that while the proposals “make a lot of sense,” they will be hard to sell depending on how costly they turn out to be for the state.
(Wall Street Journal) — New York state teachers could be banned from administering and grading their own students’ standardized tests under a series of changes education officials are proposing after cheating scandals erupted in several other states. An internal Education Department task force said Thursday the state could improve the way it handles the 6 million tests administered annually from kindergarten through high school. ”It is imperative that those tests are not compromised,” the panel’s report stated. “A reliable measure of student performance is vital to students’ college and career preparedness.” They are also more important than ever to teachers and principals. In New York state this year, teacher evaluations will be based in part on student test scores. New York City already uses an analysis of scores in some teacher tenure decisions.
(AJC) — Atlanta parent Shawnna Hayes-Tavare wondered why her bright daughter struggled academically when she entered sixth grade, and why her son, who is deaf, dropped about 50 points on state exams when transferred to a new school. This summer, she got a possible answer. Hayes-Tavare’s children attended two of the schools named in a state investigation into test cheating in Atlanta Public Schools. Now, with the school year beginning for most on Monday, she must again turn her children over to the district that violated her trust. “If I wasn’t the parent from hell before, I will be the parent from hell,” she said. “I was already questioning things, but I wasn’t questioning hard enough. I wasn’t following my gut because I trusted. Now I am going to follow my intuition and question everything.”
(Chicago Sun Times) — State and local education officials have been begging the federal government for relief from student testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, but school starts soon and Congress still hasn’t answered the call. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he will announce a new waiver system Monday to give schools a break. The plan to offer waivers to all 50 states, as long as they meet other school reform requirements, comes at the request of President Barack Obama, Duncan said. More details on the waivers will come in September, he said.
(AJC) — Parents of students at an Atlanta public school where cheating was alleged to have occurred on a statewide test on Tuesday night defended their school and teachers at a town hall meeting. “We’ve been extremely pleased with the instruction my children have received,” said Quinnie Cook-Richardson, one of several parents at the troubled West Manor Elementary School who spoke at the meeting. Her son’s teacher had him reading within a year, she said, adding, “They are an example of what is right with Atlanta Public Schools.”
(AJC) — Atlanta Public Schools employees have begun receiving official notices this week that they have been placed on paid administrative leave after being implicated in an ongoing cheating scandal. The notices sent out to teachers and others are among the procedural steps the district must take as it begins to sort through each employee’s case. It did not go out to everyone, but to those who work 200 days or more on their annual contract. Superintendent Erroll Davis, who has been adamant that none of the employees will work in front of the district’s children again, plans to start termination proceedings as quickly as he can.
(AJC) — The state attorney general’s office sanctioned the Atlanta Public Schools board Monday, essentially putting the board on a year’s probation for violations related to Georgia’s open meetings and public records laws. Effective immediately, the state’s action came on the eve of a crucial state hearing at which Atlanta board members will fight to keep their jobs. The board by unanimous vote agreed that they and key district staff members will take additional training about state law. Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter said his office will also closely monitor the board over the next year to make sure it complies. If it does not, Ritter said his office will take the board to court. ”We are not in litigation about this but we are prepared to go into litigation if we have to,” Ritter said. “We’re not going to throw stones. We’re hopeful [problems] will be addressed.”
(AJC) — Faced with mounting evidence of test cheating by state investigators culminating a 10-month probe of Atlanta Public Schools, Beverly Hall as late as May still defended her leadership style and use of annual academic targets, maintaining she was not responsible for the scandal. Yet, in one of the last interviews done under oath by investigators before they released their searing report, Hall, then APS superintendent, admitted she never looked at all the actual data documenting the state’s suspicions about erasures on students’ answer sheets. At times defensive and contradictory, Hall batted away questions about her management style and her handling of cues that cheating was taking place, according to a transcript obtained by Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
(AJC) — The Atlanta Public Schools scandal will deeply hamper the city’s efforts to attract new businesses and jobs, perhaps for years, business and company site selection experts say. Quality of the local school system is a top factor in company location decisions, especially among large corporations with employee bases that are substantially made up of families. If the district’s problems are handled well — i.e. local and state leaders have a plan to resolve the issues quickly and bring credibility to the system — the impact could be short term, the experts said. But if the problem, in which 178 APS teachers and principals have been accused of cheating on state standardized tests, is drawn out with lawsuits and ugly public battles, the scandal could permanently impede growth.