Thursday, March 03, 2005

Johnny_Mango Foretells The Future: APS Test Scores Plunge! Parents Ask For Reason.

NOB HILL--Testing season is here in APS. And these are stories from the front. Are scores going to plunge? This is more than a prediction: this is a certainty. Here is a sample of what 4th graders are being asked:
  • You go to a party. There are 3 drinks, 2 sandwiches, and 4 kinds of candy. How many combinations of all three are possible?
  • You have the sides of a rectangular prism flattened out. How many faces and how many total cubic inches are there?
  • You have a carpet and a runner of certain dimensions. Is the rug 3 square feet more than the runner?

Let's not even talk about kids, especially esl kids, not understanding that particular definition of "runner."

These are IQ test questions, not questions to see if a child is making satisfactory progress in 4th grade! It has all the hallmarks of an IQ test masquerading as a mastery test: extreme secrecy, tricky problems and syntax, higher numbers added to a problem to make it a little harder, a test that seems way too long to measure just 4th grade curriculum, abstractions not supported by any classroom practice. The end result is that we will by definition see a bell curve of results. That means that by definition some kids and schools will fail. It is built into the test itself. Failing schools and kids are built into the test.

Let's look at the length of the test: 11 hours for 9 year olds and up. The reason the test is so long is that the test seeks to find differences, small differences, between the children tested...not whether the kids have learned a common subject. That doesn't take twice as long as any test given to adults to establish proficiency: like the National Teachers Exam.

And by the way...OOPS!

The 11 hours that the testing company said were necessary to give the test is likely going to be about 16 hours. While the test is not timed, everything is taking about 50% longer than planned.

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