Kids and state academic testing

Discussion in 'General' started by hudsonfour, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. hudsonfour

    hudsonfour Well-Known Member

    Tomorrow my girls take the state assessment test. We just sat and had a discussion about doing their best, giving it their all....BLAH BLAH BLAH....Florida has leased the test from UTAH. Last year Utah had a 60% failure rate and this current year is looking at tossing the test out all together. As a teacher I question the validity of a test with such a high failure rate. As a parent I am disturbed by the student signature clause- DO NOT DISCUSS THIS TEST, post on instagram, facebook. tweet or any forms of social media. I want my kids to feel comfortable discussion information with their teacher, classmates and ME. My girls both talked about how the practice test questions really tricked them. UGH. 
    Do your kids face the same stress? Are your kids taking the test? Opting out? 
     
    BTW, kids test performance is also tied to teacher evaluation in FL, which is also tied to pay scale- set to take effect this coming year. 
     
  2. pretty girl

    pretty girl Well-Known Member

    My kids aren't in school yet. But I remember these stupid tests. I'm honestly considering home schooling my twins because of it
     
  3. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    We are refusing the PARCC test. This test is absolutely awful.  Join Opt out of the state test: the national movement.  Also you can friend me on FB as I have been rather active with this.  Below is the letter I read to board members and our curriculum director and superintendent:  Basically, these tests are changing the structure of education.  We need control back at the state and district level...not federal
     
    These tests are NOT the same tests we took when we were kids.  These are high stakes tests.  Teachers are being evaluated on the growth of the kids scores (within a 6 wk time frame), schools are being shut down (rather than using the thousands of dollars it costs to implement the test, spend it on recourse teachers for these schools in poverty).  Pearson and the government are the only ones benefiting...not our kids...not our teachers.
     
    Pearson is evil...I dont want them to have my kids data.
     
     
     
    [SIZE=14pt]I just want to briefly go over the reasons why I have concerns for the test.  [/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]1.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt] Even after giving and scoring the tests, the state keeps the questions and answers secret (“secure”), and the results are not ready until the following school year, too late to help a student or a teacher[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]2. [/SIZE][SIZE=14pt] Standard standardized test development practice requires that the testing instrument be validated. Such validation requires that the test maker show that the test correlates strongly with other accepted measures of what is being tested, both generally and specifically (that is, with regard to specific materials and/or skills being tested). No such validation was done for these tests.  [/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]3.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt] The online testing format is entirely inappropriate for most third graders.  At the early grades, the tests end up being as much a test of keyboarding skills as it is their knowledge of the content.[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]4. [/SIZE][SIZE=14pt] The tests are diagnostically and instructionally useless.  The results of these tests are not broken down in any way that is of diagnostic or instructional use. Teachers cannot even see the tests to find out what students got wrong on them and why. So the tests are of no diagnostic or instructional value.[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]5.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt] The amount of testing days is unacceptable…period[/SIZE]
     
     
    [SIZE=14pt]6. [/SIZE][SIZE=14pt]I am very concerned by the intrusive data-sharing enabled by assessment-driven special interests[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]7.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt]  Pearson, is the multibillion-dollar educational-publishing and educational-testing conglomerate — not to mention a chief corporate sponsor of Jeb Bush’s Federal Ed ventures — that snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of so-called “PARCC” tests.[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]8.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt]  How to they measure growth without any form of a pretest?  How can you assess growth halfway through the school year and then again 6 weeks later?[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]9.[/SIZE][SIZE=14pt]  To me it doesn't matter that this year is a baseline year for results.  I do not want my children to be guinea pigs for testing companies….especially since the test is not educationally justified.[/SIZE]
     
     
    [SIZE=14pt]According to ISBE, it states that a child can refuse the test when it begins and the district will not be penalized.[/SIZE]
     
    [SIZE=14pt]Code 15 is reserved for cases where an individual student is presented with a test booklet and refuses to engage with the test.  To avoid penalizing a school or district for an individual student refusal to test, code 15 does not count against the AYP (adequate yearly progress) participation rate. In this case, the student is considered “tested” but the answer document is blank as a result of the student’s refusal to engage with the test.[/SIZE]
     
     
    [SIZE=14pt]I’m fighting for teachers.  My kids first but for teachers.  I want teachers to be able to teach to their kids as they see fit.[/SIZE]
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. pretty girl

    pretty girl Well-Known Member

    How many days is testing? I'm more curious than anything.
     
  5. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    5 days this month and 4 days six weeks later.  75-90 minutes each day ...(just over 9 hours total)  plus practice test days plus practice time on the computers to learn how to navigate (cut, paste, highlight)
     
  6. hudsonfour

    hudsonfour Well-Known Member

    I have thought about opting out- even explained to my girls how they could choose to opt out in our state. Honestly, I wish I had the guts to fully refuse the test for my kids-
     
  7. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    My kids are only in first grade, but our testing has been fine. Very limited as to time. Kids don't seem to mind it. And, for us, it's been useful as one of the tests identified Jack as gifted, which entitles him to special services for the duration of his school career (it's not just a "brag" with him--we are dealing with ongoing behavior issues relating to his intelligence and inability to deal with his peers and both his behavioral psychologist and the school psychologist and guidance counselor think this will help). Plus, opting out can hurt the schools so it doesn't seem like the right solution to me.
     
  8. kingeomer

    kingeomer Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I remember taking all kinds of standardized tests throughout my public school education, as a student, I wish I knew what we were being tested for.  Obviously for what we were learning but what changes were coming as a part of the results of test.  Not knowing the point of the tests, I think, did not really encourage kids at the time to take them very seriously.  I am sure a lot has changed since then.  
    My kids go to catholic school, they do Terra Nova testing, our school doesn't start it until 4th grade.  I am starting hear more about PARCC and the issues coming forth with that.  
     
  9. Katheros

    Katheros Well-Known Member

    My kids did the Florida testing last year and the year before when we lived there.  It wasn't a big deal.  One of them missed 1 question on the whole test, the other missed 5 or 6 (mostly math).  There was never a lot of pressure for them to perform well or anything.  It was just another test.  They did it over I think 3 days, with about an hour or two of testing each morning.
     
    They're getting ready to take the tests here in SC now.  My two don't seem bothered by them.
     
  10. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    Yeah we do MAP testing which is a benchmark test they take 3 times a year.  Its great because teachers can actually use it to make diagnostic decisions.  Aside from using the results in their classroom to guide instruction, they also use it to place kids in reading and math groups.  My boys score very well on these tests.  Im not afraid of them doing poorly on them.  
     
    Next month, they will take their 3rd MAP plus AIMS plus a week (4 days) of PARCC. This week during PARCC testing, there is not math.  In April there will be a week of no math.  All for nothing!  
     
  11. eagleswings216

    eagleswings216 Well-Known Member

    My kids aren't in school yet, but I work in an elementary school and DH is a middle school teacher.  The amount of days spent on testing is ridiculous.  We are in Virginia, so starting in 3rd grade, kids have SOL tests in all core areas.  They did reduce the number of tests for elementary school this year (like now 3rd grade only takes reading and math), but it's still awful.  We have benchmark testings twice during the year, which take several weeks to get through all the 3rd-5th grade classes, and then the end of year tests take several weeks, too.  Of course not every kid tests every day, but those weeks are very tense. Schedules are out of whack for everything, and students are expected to be quiet in the halls.  They even close down our main playground because it's adjacent to two of the three computer labs where testing goes on.  It's totally stressful and totally ridiculous, IMO.
     
  12. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    We've only done MAP and then all first graders did the CogAg for gifted identification, so I guess I haven't had experience with some of the problematic tests? I honestly don't know that we do them. We only did MAP in the fall, not three times.
     
  13. mama_dragon

    mama_dragon Well-Known Member

    My boys are in private school.  No testing other than unit tests.  No computers either (huge fan of this for early grades). The school goes through 3rd grade.  Our state does MAP testing but doesn't start the "big" tests until 3rd grade.  I plan to opt out (have them opt out) when they start public school.  One of mine is a complete perfectionist.  He will throw away a paper just because he made one tiny mistake and start completely over.  He didn't get a stamp on a music worksheet (they are learning to read music) and he was absolutely devastated.  It took him a long time to like music again.  His music worksheet is the first thing he looks for when its handed back and every time he tells me he got a stamp and reminds me of the time he didn't.  I put zero pressure on him at home.  He is in Kindergarten so not real concerned with academics.  Besides he very rarely gets less than 100% on any work or test including spelling tests.  So I flat will not put him through testing. 
     
    I honestly wish I could homeschool.  As a completely single parent with no child support I can't. 
     
  14. rissakaye

    rissakaye Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I think so much of the testing is dependent on how your particular state/district/school handle things.  For us, it's not really a big deal.  We do STAR testing 3 times a year for everybody which gives the teachers an idea of reading levels and math placements.  It also helps flag students for gifted and talented (my daughter got flagged because of her scores on these kinds of tests) and also shows the students who really aren't getting it.  It's a branching test so it really does try and get more specific data about a child.  Those take maybe 30-45 minutes per time.
     
    We've started the state assessments this week.  My kids are testing 4 days this week, but it's only 1 hour for each of those days.  Most of the kids are finishing early.  This will finish their ELA tests.  They'll do a similar amount of math later next month.  Then they'll have an on-demand writing assessment.  I think that state assessments will probably take a total of about 10 hours out of a month of instructional time.  That doesn't seem too excessive to me.  Life is still going on at school.  They are working on debates and having to research to support a position and defend it.  We'll do wax museum.  They are getting ready for a field trip to the state capitol.  They are roller skating in pe class.  State assessments happen to be going on, but it's not the focus of their school time.
     
    Marissa
     
  15. southernmommy

    southernmommy Well-Known Member

    I have 5 kids in school, an 11th grader thru 1st grader, and the testing has never been the cause of any stress for any of them. They probably look forward to it more than anything because they get special breakfasts and snacks from their teachers. The schools ask them to do their best and get a good night's sleep and eat a good breakfast but they don't put too much pressure on them.
     
  16. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    My kids had PARCC testing last week.  They said the ELA was easy--as did the 5th graders I teach.  All said the math was harder.  As a teacher, other than a couple of days spent practicing taking tests on the computer, instruction hasn't changed at all.  They still use the same books they used last year, and learn the same lessons as last year's 5th graders.  The kids actually said that they liked PARCC better than NJASK, the former test.  PARCC ELA was broken down into 23 questions over 3 days, with more than enough time.  On NJASK, they had multiple short sections per day, and exactly 30 minutes for the written part.  Once they got over the anxiety of the first day, they were actually quite relaxed about it.  Most were done with time to spare, so much so that we ended up amending many IEP's to remove the extra time, because they simply didn't need it.
     
    In NJ, there is a lot of different issues with PARCC, one group that is fighting it is the teachers union.  The part most are not understanding is that the teachers union is fighting it because government wants to tie student achievement on the test to teacher evaluations, and that just isn't a good criteria.  The test is designed to look at student achievement, not to determine the effectiveness of a teacher--there are too many factors in a students achievement on a test to allow an accurate assessment of a teachers skills
     
    Kids are going to have to take standardized tests at some point.  I just encourage mine to do their best, and that is really all I care about.
     
    Oh, and here in NJ, they cannot test before grade 3.
     
  17. tarcoulis

    tarcoulis Well-Known Member

    This year they will take the SBAC once and HSA Science three times.  
    Last year they took HSA Bridge Reading and HSA Bridge Math twice each.
    The year before, the kids (mine were too young) took HSA Math and Reading three times each.
     
    I'm not sure why they take the tests multiple times, even if they pass the first time, except to get a higher and higher score (highest score counts for the year) which seems a bit silly since the first round was taken half way through the year when they'd only covered half the material, but quite a few kids do pass on the first round.  For the second and third rounds there seem to be two groups - one doesn't care anymore because they already passed and the other goes through more rounds of unnecessary stress and anxiety even though they already passed.
     
    I thought about opting out. I know the test results are somehow tied to teachers' salaries and school standings but I don't know enough about it.  Since I'm pretty sure my kids will pass and likely pass quite well, don't want to hurt the teacher or school by driving down the participation and pass rates .
     
    STAR testing is done each quarter to monitor growth and the teachers put a lot of emphasis on growing X number of points. My kids (and they are not the only ones) surpassed the end of year benchmark in math and reading on the first tests right when school started.  They are at a point (in math) where STAR is giving them questions that won't be taught until higher grades, so the the only way they'll have growth is for someone to teach them that material which I don't think is productive in the long run.  A higher score won't mean they're smarter or understand the material deeper, just that they were taught earlier.  
     
    Dibels (I think that's what its called - for reading speed and fluency) Testing is done every quarter. They are thinking of starting Dibels math testing also.
     
    GT testing is offered to all but only administered at the parents' request.
     
    Unit testing is done throughout the year.  
     
    AR tests and I have a love hate relationship.
     
    Way too much testing.
     
  18. hudsonfour

    hudsonfour Well-Known Member

    Well, my girls just completed the 2 days of ELA for the Florida Standards Assessment aka FSA. They both said it wasn't too difficult, but there were a few tricky questions and some that required multiple answers. We shall see when the test scores are returned.
     
    What I have issue with in Fl- this test was not field tested in FL. There is no baseline score established and the state we rented the test from (UTAH) had 60% failure rate last year. Student promotion in 3rd and 10th grade is based on test scores. Teacher evaluations are now tied to student performance on test, and evaluations will be used to determine pay.  Testing is also spread out over the next four weeks. Next week, 3rd and 4th take Math. Following week 5th and 6th grade takes science and computer based reading test, following week is Math. When the school is testing we are on silent mode. Resource teachers travel to regular classroom to do lessons, library is closed and there is no student movement. The computer based testing will require the school it use the library computers and therefore the library will be closed all day for multiple days. On top of all this testing, our school district does it own testing quarterly to determine how prepared the kids are for the FSA.
     
    I'm not opposed to evaluating students at end of a year using 2-3 days of testing- if the test was a legitimate. This data should be used to monitor student progress. Paying teachers based on test scores from a questionable test is wrong. Retaining students based solely on the reading test score is wrong. 
     
  19. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Sue, many of the reasons you stated is why PARCC testing isn't being counted for anything over the next 2-3 years, so they can find a baseline.  That is a messed up scoring if 60% of kids "failed", as standardized tests are supposed to be scaled to a normal curve--where the raw score is adjusted to the scale as the scores are completed--and why you need a baseline.  I also feel as this first year, scores will be skewed down as everyone gets used to the computer testing format and the test itself.
     
    We have the multiple weeks of testing, but the kids still move around on schedule when not testing, they just have to be silent in the halls.  The lack of regular computers during the testing period is the one big problem some teachers I work with had, especially since we are using an online component for Social Studies, and it is really difficult when the kids can't get a computer.
     
    Like I said before, I really don't have a problem with the test for student achievement.  I do have a problem with the politicians pushing for teacher evaluations to be tied to the student testing.  Especially if one year you have the "high" class, and the next year the "low" class, that will affect the scores more than anything else!
     
  20. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    Having the low class would be better because those kids will show more growth.
     
  21. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    Having the low class would be better because those kids will show more growth.
     
  22. lharrison1

    lharrison1 Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I live in Kansas as well and this has been our experience...it's not a huge deal or a major stressor.  The teachers let us know the day before testing so that we can make sure they are well rested and eat a good breakfast-and that's usually all I hear about it. 
     
  23. mama_dragon

    mama_dragon Well-Known Member

    Our state couldn't complete the what was supposed to be the baseline tests last year due to technical difficulties.  In fact a lot of schools couldn't even take the tests.  My mom said her school was able to test this year but they had extremely slow server connections and took longer than expected.  Her school district just doesn't have the infrastructure for the computers/server/internet needs.  Doubt that will improve next year since I believe we have the crappiest Governor in the US.
     
    Like I said I have a child with major perfection issues.  I put ZERO pressure on him.  The teacher puts zero pressure on him.  Even a 99% on a test completely freaks him out (unit tests in K).  His teacher is working hard with him to hopefully get him to the point that he isn't having melt downs.  Simply telling him its no big deal or try your best won't work for him.  Its a bit of a nightmare.  He already gets "stomachaches" over school work.  This is the kid who knows his ten spelling words for the following week on the drive home on Friday (words handed out on Friday).  He gets in the car pulls out the sheet of words reads them, hands the sheet up to me and wants to practice immediately.  Trust me I am the most laid back parent about school.  Firm believer in the kids learn through play at this age.  I will not put him through testing unless he has improved.  It isn't worth it.  No test is worth it.   
     
  24. rissakaye

    rissakaye Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Kansas had MAJOR server/computer issues last year.  Last year was considered a pilot year and the results weren't going to count anyway because they were testing a  whole new system.  Math tests would load without the graphs and charts.  Tests would load sideways onto the screen.  Tests just wouldn't be there.  It was a huge mess.  But I give them credit because they did put the time and effort into fixing the tests. My kids thought it was great because they would have "Break the Test" days.  We did at least 2 of them where the state wanted every school in the state to log-in as many kids as they could at the same time and have the entire state doing practice tests on the system at the same time.  They wanted to put maximum pressure on the testing system to see if it could handle it.  Telling a bunch of elementary kids they get to try and break the state assessment was entertainment at it's finest. I haven't heard of any of the problems that we had last year happening at all.  Everything has been very smooth.
     
    I work in a kinder room currently and we don't put grades on the papers.  We mark that it's been completed or we'll mark something for them to go fix.  We have a standards based report card through 5th grade.  The kids are just marked on report cards if they are meeting, exceeding, or not meeting standard (something like: can count to 100, can identify basic sight words, can sound out cvc words.)  None of the kids see a numerical grade or any of the grades on the STAR placement tests for our reading and math groups.  
     
    Marissa
     
  25. threebecamefive

    threebecamefive Well-Known Member

    I think the stress level for a student would be a LOT higher if they knew being promoted to the next grade was tied to their test scores. I can also see stress levels in the whole school being higher if all the teachers knew their evaluations, salary, and school performance were tied to test scores. Even if a teacher tried to never let that stress be seen by a student, it's there.

    The SBAC is far different from MAP, STAR, AIMS, Dibel and previous state tests. I imagine the new test mentioned by the OP is similar to the SBAC. IMO, it's like comparing apples to ice cream. Just preparing the students for the test can create stress and does take more time out of the classroom than any of the other tests listed above.

    I can totally see where the OP is coming from in her frustration and concern.
     
  26. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    Right... These are high stakes tests. Tests that shut schools down when scores come back low so politicians and the 1 percent can close schools down and open charter schools. And tests where teachers get fired if scores don't show enough growth. Teachers creativity and joy for teaching goes out the window when it is tied to high stakes. The bottom line is we need control at the local and state level... Not federal.
     
  27. jjzollman

    jjzollman Well-Known Member

    High stakes testing is totally different than the 3xyr progress monitoring testing. Our oldest son cried during the writing prompt last year in third grade - the first yr kids take high stakes test in Indiana. Teachers allowed to touch the kids, their papers, or their desks during the testing. It's ridiculous.

    Indiana has a test in 3rd grade called iread that kids have to pass to be promoted to 4th grade. That's stressful for kids!
     
  28. hudsonfour

    hudsonfour Well-Known Member

    Sharon- Here in Florida, we previously had the FCAT and scores were tied to 3rd grade retention and school letter grades (A, B, ...). Schools that made an "A" got recognition money from the state which came to about $900 bonus for teachers. Three years ago a bill was put in place that took away continuous contract and made any new hire on an annual contract forever, this bill also required that teacher evaluations be tied to student scores. Even with a brand new test in place your state education leaders won't back down. We are all still held accountable for school grades, student promotion based on scores and student scores impacting teacher evals. I wish our state would give us a 2-3 year break so that the test baseline can be determined.  
     
  29. eagleswings216

    eagleswings216 Well-Known Member

     
    It's like that here, too.  Some of our area schools do okay, and some don't (like the bigger city where 45% are ESL kids).  The sad part is, the teachers get reamed out for things they can't control, like kids who fail the test because they have a disability, or kids who barely speak English.  Only 1% of kids with disabilities in our state can do the alternative assessments, which means all the kids with learning disabilities who often peak out at a 3rd grade reading level are expected to pass 11th grade reading tests to graduate and to keep the schools accredited.  And kids who move here from another country are given less than a year and then expected to test like everyone else.  It's ridiculous and it's totally unfair to blame teachers for those factors, not to mention kids from families in poverty or with other issues who can't or don't help with schoolwork or value education.
     
  30. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Just a note, tying these tests to teacher achievement has nothing to do with federal "control", that is all done by politicians on a state by state basis.  If you look at the states that are tying the tests to teachers, they all have Republican governors...just saying.  The only reason it hasn't totally taken hold in NJ, is because the Assembly and Senate are a Democrat majority, and they are listening to reason, and fighting the governor on it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  31. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    The federal government is making the states give parcc. I definitely know it's not a republican vs dem issue.
     
  32. eagleswings216

    eagleswings216 Well-Known Member

    Fed requires state to show progress and have accountability, but how each state does that varies.  And much of federal funding (No Child Left Behind) is tied to certain requirements.  So the states can say "no", but they risk losing certain amounts of federal funding when they do so.
     
    My state has had SOLs for about 15 years now, and has been through governors and legislatures of both parties, and not much has changed and they are still around and going strong.  They did just reduce the number of tests for elementary school, which has been a welcome change!
     
  33. mama_dragon

    mama_dragon Well-Known Member

    We are in Kansas and the school the boys would attend if they were not in private...  in March the 3rd graders had 6 days of testing.  The testing was either 1 1/2 hour or 2 hours depending on the test.  In April they will have 8 days of testing.  
     
    At my mother's school in Kansas the servers were slow.  They were able to actually take the tests this year but there were issues.  The stakes and pressure are very high at her school which is a very poor school and a failing school.  My mom is retired and subs and volunteers at the school.  The teacher moral is in the toilet.  The testing days are the worst.  The pressure and stress among the teachers is enough to set the kids off.  The teachers can't teach effectively or how these kids need to be taught because they are working under such stress and control.   
     
    For my child who is a perfectionist.  It would not matter at all if the papers were graded or ungraded.  He came out of the womb this way.  He was correcting his twins handwriting at age 3.  He was writing his name at age 2 1/2 and would get mad if he didn't make a letter exactly the way he expected it to look.  I didn't teach them at home and they only went to preschool part time.  I've been told to have him tested for gifted.  That will be fun.  Not.  So no I will not subject him to 14 days of testing in 3rd grade.  Not worth it.  Not even a little bit. 
     
  34. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    I'm asking genuinely, but what are your plans to address this? It doesn't sound like he's likely to grow out of it if it's so innate to his personality, and it's not realistic to avoid all tests for his entire academic career.
     
  35. mama_dragon

    mama_dragon Well-Known Member

    I don't plan to keep him from testing forever I just don't see that 14 days of high stake testing (and yes where we are it is made into a big deal) will be useful for him at age 8.  I don't think its useful for any 8 year old.  He does tests at school now.   Unit tests and spelling tests.  His teacher is working with him.   If he continues having problems he will get the help he needs. 
     
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