Friday, January 13, 2012

Standardized Testing...the new game show?

Today was a bit of a tough day. I had a good day at my new campus and spent the second half of the day cleaning out my office in my old campus. While I do not have computer in my new office yet, I do not get the chance to do my digital learning during the day. So, I came home today from my first week in my new position and had a chance to read contributions to my learning from my PLN. Vicki Davis shared this video on Google+:

 If you watch the video, the contestant admits that it is challenging to "do math sitting here [in the hot seat]". Having been on a televised game show myself, I can be sympathetic to the "hot seat" phenomenon. Having said that, it reminds me of the high pressure situation that we put our students in late April for our NCLB mandated test, the Prairie State Achievement Exam.

For those of you not familiar with the Illinois test, it is a two day test comprised of the ACT (day 1) and the Work Keys plus and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) developed Science assessment. The scores from these two days of testing are mysteriously calculated into cuts scores to determine if juniors in high school meet or exceed state standards. Amazingly, Illinois uses a test (the ACT) for NCLB that is DESIGNED to sort students and leave some behind. But I digress...we can discuss standardized assessment at a later date.

It seems that NCLB gives schools 1 chance to "hit it big", like on a game show. The trouble is that as schools have to play the game to get students ready make it through the test the mathematics for this question is reduced to a trivia fact. There is no thought about Pythagoras and the 3-4-5 triangle that could generate a great discussion about mathematics and numeracy. I hope that as the CCSS take effect and change mathematics teaching in the early grades, there will be deeper understanding of the mathematics and we can change the game show created by NCLB.

Will high school math classes change form Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2/Trig to Math 1, 2, 3 and 4 with thoroughly integrated topics? Will students come into high school with better understanding of the fundamentals of math to spur deeper understanding in high school? Will there be better assessments that come with PARC?

We will have to wait and see. Until then...BIG BUCKS, NO WHAMMIES!

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