Testing Culture Forum (and my experience with a test this week)

November 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm 53 comments

I had an interesting run-in with standardized testing this week.  I decided to finally try to figure out if I have ADD (or maybe I just get distracted because my blackberry sends me an email every time there is a comment here.)  Part of the test that my Dr. prescribed involved taking the WAIS III test, which I learned later is an adult intelligence test.  It is administered by a human and is the first standardized test I’ve taken since the 80’s.  I have always found standardized tests oddly enjoyable to take.  I still recall the yearly Iowa Basic Tests — getting my nice sharp #2 pencil and filling in those bubbles so carefully.   I have an odd knack for tests like this which helps, and I’ve also benefited from test prep for the SATs and GMATs.   I really enjoyed taking the test last week, and it was very insightful in regards to all the talk we have here on the gifted/classical testing.  Some things I concluded:

Having a test administrator is probably biasing.  – My test lady read me many of the questions or gave me block to arrange or pictures to put in order.  She was oddly blatant in her positive reinforcement when I got something right, which made me oddly want to please her.  It also made it enjoyable.  If she’d been unpleasant the test would have been a much different experience.  Made me wonder about the kids taking the tests for Kindergarten when they have a 1-on-1 administrator.

The test felt culturally biased.  – Well, socio-economically biased.  Sure, arranging blocks in a pattern is a generic skill that crosses all boundaries.  But there were also tasks like answering some basic culture questions (who was madame curie? who painted the Sistine chapel? What is the Koran? read a list of vocab words including insouciant, dilettante, hegemony. word tasks that involve grouping cooking utensils, liquors. What is the book of genesis about?)  Clearly the more exposure you’ve had to the world and to words, the higher your “intelligence.”

Practicing would have helped – as with other standardized tests I’ve taken, if I’d been able to do some practice questions for this specific test, I’m certain I could have done better.  Not a TON better, but certainly a little better.   I remember now why test prep helped me in the past.

Anyhow, just thought I’d share that since it was an interesting.experience  And testing is such a big topic right now.  As much as I loved testing as a child, in part it was because it was once a year.  Now CPS is taking my much-loved testing and making it a constant and somewhat torturous activity for students.  Monitoring throughout the year is good conceptually.  Difficult to administer when it’s all done on computers and the CPS hardware and software don’t support it.  It’s an arduous undertaking.  And that’s just logistical.  There are likely other ramifications of a heavy testing culture.

You can learn more at Raise Your Hand’s forum this week which sounds very interesting:

Community Forum: The Culture of Testing -Assessing Assessment at CPS

When: Thu, 11/29/2012 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: Holstein Park Auditorium

2200 N. Oakley

Chicago, IL

Come out and engage in a discussion about our current culture of testing. How did we get here? What tests are our kids taking and how often? What is the utility and impact of all these tests? Is standardized testing the best way to measure achievement?

Panelists include CPS teachers from primary grades to high school and Prof. Noah W. Sobe, Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University where he also directs the Center for Comparative Education.  A researcher who studies the history of education and the relationship between globalization and schools,  Prof. Sobe serves on the Boards of Directors of several scholarly societies and presents at academic conferences around the globe.  He is also the parent of two daughters currently attending CPS and and a member of a group of education researchers called CReATE (Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates of Transformative Education) and a co-author of CReATE’s research brief on high stakes standardized testing.

When: Thursday, 11/29

Where: Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley, 2nd floor Auditorium

Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

RSVP: info@ilraiseyourhand.org

 

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Tier Changes and Q&A with OAE New School Fair: Field Report

53 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chicago Mama  |  November 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Thinking about the yearly Iowa and Stanford tests when I was a kid, the SAT as a teen, and the GRE now kind of fill me with dread. I think the word test comes with its own baggage.

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    That’s what my testing lady said as well. I have no idea why I enjoy them…. maybe they were framed positively to me as a child, maybe it’s my kind of knowledge (regurgitation) or maybe I’m just weird. I also like going to the dentist.

  • 3. EdgewaterMom  |  November 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    @2 Well, I would rather take a test than go to the dentist, but that does NOT mean that I like tests. Yes, you are very weird. 🙂

  • 4. logansqmom  |  November 25, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I loved and looked forward to the iowa basics tests every year as well, so you are not alone. But if I verbalize that in a room of adults, most look at me like I have two heads. I thought the tests were easy and fun and a nice break from the normal school routine. I would try to fill in the ovals as quickly and perfectly as possible and then hope patterns would emerge as i answered the questions. What a nerd, huh? LOL

  • 5. Jen  |  November 25, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I also loved taking tests as a child, but I’m sure it’s because I would always get the highest scores. It didn’t matter much when I was older and grades became about more than what I could answer on a test from just knowing stuff.

    Also, I discovered I suffer from ADD earlier this year and the meds are making an amazing difference in my life. I wish I’d known this years ago.

  • 6. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I LOVED taking that Iowa Basic once a year. It was such a big deal. I had to go to bed early and everyone in the family would be yelling at everyone else to ‘be quiet’, ‘shut up~she has her achievement test in the morning’. When I came to the kitchen table in the morning, there would be two new #2 pencils freshly sharpened for me~in case one wore down while taking the test or heaven forbid, one tip broke~and I had to sharpen the pencil~breaking the testing mode and taking time away from the test…not to be made up. I filled in those ovals perfectly and made them as dark as possible so there would be no doubt which one I selected as the answer.

    Unfortunately, tests that were was once considered a ‘guide’ are now a frenzy that has nothing to do w/’guiding’ kids in CPS~just giving testing contracts to Rahm’s friends so they make money and making the day longer in order to have enough instructional minutes in a day to make up for the all the tests given. CPS has really cheapened what these tests were for and have made some very young grades sick abt taking them. We can thank Advance Illinois for pushing these tests as well.

  • 7. CPS Parent  |  November 25, 2012 at 10:44 am

    CPS Obsessed – Regarding the “Having a test administrator is probably biasing” that is part of the test protocol for the WAIS. If the psychologist doesn’t push/encourage you she is not following the instructions which are meant to illicit your best possible performance and the test has been validated that way. She was not just being a nice and that’s why it felt blatant. Regarding “bias” the test has been validated against specific demographic subsets so when your score is calculated it will be compared to other female, 35-40 years old, caucasian, 4 years of college, etc. The scores are only meaningful in that context. Regarding “practice” the WAIS cannot be administered to the same person more than one time per year.

    Comparing the WAIS to scholastic testing is amusing but not really appropriate and may discourage the education testing haters (the K-12 education issue du jour I think, next month it will be something else) or their children from benefiting from these very well validated protocols.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thanks @7 – very interesting! I’d still question why an intelligence test should have varying scores for white women etc. Is there not some way to measure intelligence that removes cultural references? Does knowledge of history (my one main weak point) indicate lesser intelligence? Also interesting about the interviewer giving positive feedback. That seems so strange to me! Also makes me wonder what the directive is in the gifted/classical testing. I thought test administration would be more neutral in tone. So she wasn’t really happy when I did well??? 😦

    True, comparing this test to ISATs etc is just for fun. I do doubt whether anything I’ve say could influence a “test hater” as I didn’t say the test was useless. The purpose of this test is to measure what someone considered to be adult intelligence and in my opinion, the test and administration had some strengths and weaknesses, like all tests do. Haters gonna hate, right? (I’m kidding.)

    I don’t know that I actually see how the ISATs benefits a child. What do you see as the benefit. I found the detailed info knowledgeable for me as a parent and maybe a little insightful for him. Also, what are they validated to measure? (other than the obvious specific skills on the test.)

  • 9. CPS Parent  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

    cpsobsessed Psychologists are never interested in intelligence for its own sake and never use raw IQ for any diagnostic or treatment purpose. What they look for are variances between scales and variances from the the normed set. What will be valid is your score on “history” items when compared to others who are very much like yourself (education, sex, race, age, etc.) Your “normal” score would be an above average score for other groupings (very old, little education, etc.) This is without bias against groups – it is what the statistics indicate. The issue with the encouragement which, if she followed the rules, is not meant to give you hints as to what is “right” it is purely meant to solicit your “best effort” and which is how the test was administerd to the control groups so it has to be given to you in the same way. In school based education testing the proctor plays no role in the test other than to ensure the mechanics proper distribution of materials, time keeping etc.

    I am not familiar with the ISAT. If it is similar to the ACT I would say that the benefit is that it reveals the level of performance the child is operating at when compared to their local and broader peer group and whether their grades are within same achievement level. Variance between measures and scales would be cause for concern by teacher, parent and school. Variance could be due to lack of effort, bad grading rubrics, bad teaching, learning disability, etc.

  • 10. HSObsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    So, when do you find out if you have ADD? 🙂

    I would have been distracted by a test administrator giving enthusiastic positive feedback, too. Like I’d start wondering if this were some kind of test of validation-seeking or emotional responsiveness that was only being disguised as a test for intelligence. Would have been distracting. When I participated in psych department experiments as an undergraduate to earn extra money, there were always more levels to the test than seemed obvious, and I was always trying to guess what they were REALLY testing for.

  • 11. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    As a kid, my teacher thought I had a learning disability so I was pulled out of class into a resource room day after day for a battery of tests administered one-on-one. I absolutely loved it! The tests were the most interesting ones I’ve ever taken and I remember them fondly.

    Cpso – it sounds like you shared your son’s standardized test results with him. Do other parents of lower elementary school kids do this also? Do kids mention their results to each other?

    I have no intention of ever showing my child the scores to date, which are really horrible. It would be cruel to do so (unless there is some kind of miraculous turnaround later on). But I doubt I would share them now even if they were good. I prefer to wait until child is much older. Wondering if I’m alone on this.

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    @Outside – that is a great question. I think I was debating telling him and then he asked about it. They do make kind of a big deal about the test in school, but then the scores were oddly just shoved in a folder one day.

    Also I think it depends on the scores. My son struggles a lot with his school work and I felt like he needed some encouragement that he’s capable (and his scores were like “look you learned a lot this year but there is still upside” so it sort of worked in my favor.)

    Then for the detailed scores I thought it was helpful for him to see what areas he was strong and weak on (again, it worked to support my urging to “work more carefully”.). But I’m a data person so I’m into using data for stuff like that. If he had scores really low overall I may not have shared. Or maybe I would have…I told him the test was to see what they learned. If he was behind in math or reading I’d have used that as justification for practicing.

    I sounds like such a Tigermom saying this which I totally am not! I really just want him to keep up at grade level.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 13. EdgewaterMom  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    @11 and 12 Are you talking about the scores for the ISAT, or scores for gifted schools? My daughter has only taken the ISAT, but we definitely go over her scores with her. The school also send home her MAP test results, and we go over those with her as well.

    The first year it was important for her to see that she did fairly well on the exams, because she was so nervous about taking the tests. I really feel like the school works the kids up into a frenzy about the tests, and I do not think that is good for anybody. In fact, I told her that her job was to just do her best on the day of the exam, but the test is really just testing how well the teacher taught her (I realize that is not 100% true, but I was trying to make her less anxious about the exam).

    Her test results were MUCH better in English than in Math, and I do use that as motivation to work on math outside of school. However, that is mostly because I really feel that her school did not do a great job of teaching Math in the past few years and I really want to make sure that she gets a good foundation now. Even though she earned an A in math last year, I did not think that she really had a good understanding of it and her ISAT result in the mid 70s reinforced that. (And by the way, if you are reading this Todd Pytel, a huge thanks for the suggestion of Singapore Math – it has helped so much!)

    I am curious to see if most parents share exam results with their kids.

  • 14. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Cpso – thanks for answering. Sounds like the results can be used constructively under the right circumstances.

  • 15. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    @Edgewater – I’m talking sharing about sharing isat, map, etc results with kids — not gifted test results. But hey, do parents share those also?

  • 16. Sped Mom  |  November 26, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Once a child w/ IEP is 14, they’re included in the IEP meeting, so we will share scores based on that requirement. We do share the summary & upshot: you have 2 LDs, your IQ is at X level, gaps, strengths, etc. Child’s goal is college & grad school, so we key discussion to that. Encourage A grades. Share our critiques of modern ed sys. Child does not discuss w/ other kids except mention of parental pressure to get high grades.

  • 17. RL Julia  |  November 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

    We never really talked about ISAT or other standardized test scores with the kids but as they got older there was a lot of talk among the kids themselves about their scores (nevermind competition between my two kids on their scores). I heard of one classroom where the teacher wrote all the scores on the board so everyone could see the range. Ugh! If we got the break out of the test scores, we would look at that and maybe mention area of improvement. Mostly we just stressed that ISAT scores only measured one type of smart – and that we already knew that they were capable. The schools and kids put so much stock in those tests, we saw no reason to emphasize the results more.

  • 18. local  |  November 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    More standardized tests, more Chicago parents looking for ways out
    November 26, 2012
    By: Becky Vevea

    http://www.wbez.org/news/more-standardized-tests-more-chicago-parents-looking-ways-out-103965

  • 19. Jen  |  November 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    We’ve shared MAP test results, especially when they went down a little this semester (we would like her test taking skills to improve before she starts taking the more important ones). We also had our daughter take the EXPLORE for the first time this year, and she’s excited about getting the results since she knows it’s a test for kids much older than her.

  • 20. EdgewaterMom  |  November 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    @Jen I didn’t know that you could take the Explore test outside of 8th grade. Is this something that her school had her take, or something that you did outside of school?

    I heard the story on NPR this morning about parents opting out of testing, and it certainly does sound like they are spending too much time on testing. I guess I need to check with the teachers, because I think that her grade “only” takes the NWEA and the ISAT, but I am not sure.

  • 21. cpsobsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    The testing thing is puzzling – it seems like the areas (or whatever they call them now) and perhaps even the schools can decide what to add on beyond the ISATs.

    Whatever my son took at the begining of the year I think is given out 2 more times. It sounded like a real pain in the butt to administer since we don’t have a computer lab now. Plus, I would like the school to be require to inform parents of the testing and the rationale. Maybe I’d feel better if someone gave me a decent explanation for taking up what amounts to over a week of school, much of that downtime for each kid.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 22. Chicago School GPS  |  November 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Kids can take nationally normed tests before the “prescribed” years as part of NUMATS (Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search) http://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/numats/ . You can take Explore starting in 3rd grade and SAT and ACT tests starting in 6th grade. If you score high enough, they invite you to Northwestern for an award ceremony and you get to see all the geeky kids receive their awards. It’s a nice boost for the kids and easy “test prep” without actually taking a test prep course.

  • 23. Mayfair Dad  |  November 28, 2012 at 10:56 am

    @ 21: all bloggers have AD…squirrel!…D.

    Our principal did a very good job explaining the purpose/value of the various types of tests the kids take at a recent LSC meeting. My feeling is, yes, the tests could be construed as a total waste of time IF the school administrators and teachers didn’t know how to interepret the data and apply the information to their instruction. Also we need to be careful about “assessments” vs. high stakes testing. Not the same thing. Our principal is unabashedly data-driven, but we also have music, art, technology, sports…the assessments improve instruction, they are not the reason for instruction.

  • 24. southie  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Isn’t CPS going to institute a “single application” for all the alternative-to-neighborhood-general-program school options next year? I thought I saw something where students would then be “matched” to options based on their test scores and recommendations made for each student. I could be hallucinating though. Maybe the CPS GPS lady knows.

  • 25. Jen  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Yes we enrolled for EXPLORE through NUMATS, they can start taking it in 3rd grade. There were a lot of reasons why we did it, the main one was that when we had the gifted testing done last year we hadn’t started ADD therapy, and I wanted to see if it would make a difference without dropping another $1500. We’re also in a constant battle with our school over whether she needs additional challenges and I hope that the NUMATS educational plan that comes with the results will be helpful for that. It was 3 hours on a Saturday morning, and cost $65. When the results come I’ll know whether it was money well spent or not!

  • 26. ChiSchoolGPS  |  November 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    @24- CPS had worked for 8 solid months last year to try to roll out a “single application” for high schools by this year’s application period, but at the last minute, just before the strike, the roll-out was postponed to next year. So this year you can still apply to various HS programs and get various offers, but the intent of the single app (slated for next year) is to have all options on one application (SEHS, IB, Magnet, CTE, Charter, Contract, etc) and the choices are ranked by the family, with selection going to whichever highest choice the student qualifies for. Not sure how this impacts the schools with their own applications or applications with “extras” such as essays or auditions (Lake View, LP Double Honors/Fine Arts, Von Steuben). It does explain why IB schools this year went away from the interview to a pure point system.

  • 27. CSF Parents  |  November 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Everyone — if you are interested in taking our survey on school actions, you can find it at our website: http://www.cpsparents.org.

    The survey is produced by CSF Parents, a group dedicated to providing empirical visibility on parent sentiment.

  • 28. Sunny  |  November 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    The NWEA testing for Kindergartners was done on a computer at our school. Strange – many parents mentioned there children did not play on the computer (mine included) so were not accustomed to using a mouse. I wonder how that impacted results.

  • 29. local  |  November 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Tonight! Can you make it?

    Raise Your Hand will host “Community Forum: The Culture of Testing—Assessing Assessment at CPS” this evening 7-9 p.m. at the Holstein Park Auditorium. Parents can also learn more about the process of opting out of assessments.

    Panelists include CPS teachers from primary grades to high school and Noah W. Sobe, associate professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University and co-author of a research brief on high stakes standardized testing.

  • 30. local  |  November 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Heck. Here’s the whole announcement:

    Community Forum: The Culture of Testing -Assessing Assessment at CPS
    When:
    Thu, 11/29/2012 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm
    Where:
    Holstein Park Auditorium
    2200 N. Oakley
    Chicago, IL

    Come out and engage in a discussion about our current culture of testing. How did we get here? What tests are our kids taking and how often? What is the utility and impact of all these tests? Is standardized testing the best way to measure achievement?

    Panelists include CPS teachers from primary grades to high school and Prof. Noah W. Sobe, Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University where he also directs the Center for Comparative Education. A researcher who studies the history of education and the relationship between globalization and schools, Prof. Sobe serves on the Boards of Directors of several scholarly societies and presents at academic conferences around the globe. He is also the parent of two daughters currently attending CPS and and a member of a group of education researchers called CReATE (Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates of Transformative Education) and a co-author of CReATE’s research brief on high stakes standardized testing.

    When: Thursday, 11/29

    Where: Holstein Park, 2200 N. Oakley, 2nd floor Auditorium

    Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

    RSVP: info@ilraiseyourhand.org

  • 31. CarolA  |  November 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Just saw this now. Did anyone go? If so, what was the bottom line on testing in CPS?

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  November 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I didn’t make it – hard for me to get out on weeknights but RYH is going to post a summary on their site in the next day or two. I’ll let you know.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  December 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Update from RYH on the forum. I think it’s interesting that it varies school by school. If a school elects for another test, who pays for that?

    Culture of Testing Forum, Trip to Springfield, Etc.

    RYH Culture of Testing Forum

    Thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday night to our forum. There was a lot to tackle and our main goal was to start a more public and open discussion about the amount/utility and impact of standardized testing in our schools. Thanks to Tim Furman for recording the event. You can watch parts of it here:

    http://www.schooltechconnect.com/

    The Washington Post covered it via Tim’s blog:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/30/my-kindergartener-had-14-tests-this-year/?wprss=rss_education

    Catalyst covered it here:

    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2012/11/30/20667/parents-teachers-air-testing-concerns-forum

    One thing to note is that there seems to big differences in the amount of testing and also the emphasis on the importance of testing and use of test prep in our district. There are three mandatory assessments at CPS – REACH (given 3x a year) NWEA (given 2x mandatory and 1x optional) and the ISAT. But there are other optional assessments and schools use these to varying degrees. Principals and LSCs should be able to tell you which standardized tests are being used at your school.

    We will be posting handouts for the forum on our website this week.

    RYH trip to Springfield

    RYH testified before the House Executive Committee in Springfield this week against CPS’ request to extend the school action deadline to March 31st. Here are the reasons why:

    1) CPS announced a 5yr moratorium on school closings after this round of actions. To us this indicates they are planning a huge number of closings this year. We do not think they are prepared to successfully carry out a high number of closings in one year. We are not against closing severely underutilized schools if there is a plan in place to ensure students go safely to another school that is higher performing, but given CPS’ history, this has not happened and we don’t see how doing mass closings in one year will work.

    2) According to CReATE (Chicago Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education) a group of over 100 Chicago education professors – 82% of students at 18 CPS elem schools who were impacted by school closings went to schools that were not higher performing schools.

    3) We have a brand new CEO and the staff handling school actions are new. They don’t have the knowledge of the district yet to handle a task of this magnitude.

    4) By law, CPS has to create a 10 year master facility plan. They will announce school closings before this plan is due. How does this make any sense?

    28 members of the House voted no on this bill and 84 voted yes. All of the senate voted yes. Let’s make sure our elected officials are involved when school actions are announced. One thing to also note, while CPS says they must do this because we have 100,000 more seats than students, they have also approved nine 9 new charter schools for next year. There will be possibly more approved in January, according to testimony by Todd Babbity, Chief Transformation Officer at CPS.

    CPS appointed Commission on Space Utilization – 5 public hearings

    Monday, 12/3 7pm-9pm

    Salem Baptist Church, moderated by Pastor James Meeks

    752 E. 114th Street.

    Friday, 12/7 – Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie

    Monday, 12/10 – location tbd, Southside

    Friday, 12/14 – North/Northwest Side – location tbd

    Saturday, 12/15 – time tbd

    Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, moderated by Pastor Johnny Miller

    2262 W. Jackson

    Central location – tbd

    Space Utilization Website:

    http://www.schoolutilization.com/Schedule

    Next Board Meeting: Wednesday, December 19th

    Registration opens 12/10 to speak:

    http://www.cpsboe.org/

    Tell your friends to “Join Us” on our website for email updates – http://www.ilraiseyourhand.org

    Follow us on twitter – @ilraiseyourhand

    IF YOU LIKE WHAT WE DO AND WANT TO SEE US CONTINUE OUR WORK: MAKE A DONATION TODAY!

    Consider signing up for a monthly giving option. Even $10 a month will make a big difference to us and what we’re able to accomplish together!

  • 34. EdgewaterMom  |  December 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I do not understand how they can say that they need to close 100 schools due to low enrollment (NOT performance) and at the same time approve new charter schools. I am not against charter schools, but I just do not get the logic.

    If they are approving new charters, then obviously some of the school closings are really due to performance, not enrollment. They need to be honest about what they are doing.

  • 35. EdgewaterMom  |  December 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Does anybody have any good info about the REACH test? I am familiar with NWEA (and it seems like this one actually gives teachers some useful information) but I do not know anything about REACH. What information is it supposed to provide? How much of an overlap is there with NWEA?

  • 36. CarolA  |  December 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    EdgewaterMom: For the first grade level, there isn’t anything even close to an overlap of the tests. They are completely different. The NWEA is taken on a computer with instant results that are quite helpful. The REACH is administered, graded, and entered on the computer by the teacher (a lot of room for “foul-play”). Although we have to keep the actual written test by the students as prove, I still have a feeling things could easily be manipulated. The test is set up for failure at the beginning of year. It is testing skills that the children will learn throughout the year so obviously just a small handful will already know it. Out of my 30 children, only 1 came close to understanding the questions. The SAME test is given at the end of the year. For first grade, I read a story, the children answer questions. They are higher level thinking questions and some are multi-step questions. So, in a nutshell, no comparison at all. In fact, I think it evaluates the teacher more than the student. That’s why I also feel their may be some manipulation of facts.

  • 37. HS Mom  |  December 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    @25 Jen – I think you’re on to something.

    CPS is doing this all wrong. Schools should provide non-mandatory tests for a fee outside of school hours as a fundraiser. All the kids who don’t need to take tests will take them. Soon many will realize that they have to take them because “everyone else is”. Then communities will start to demand that all kids be tested not just the rich.

    😉

  • 38. local  |  December 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Here’s what happened at the testing forum:
    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2012/11/30/20667/parents-teachers-air-testing-concerns-forum

  • 39. Jen  |  December 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    @37 I assume you were trying to be sarcastic there. Thanks for keeping it classy. Adding a wink at the end doesn’t make it OK to attack others btw.

  • 40. CarolA  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Thanks local!

  • 41. HS Mom  |  December 4, 2012 at 9:57 am

    @39 – who did I attack? My intention was to actually support what you are doing, I like it. Half wink means that I was only half kidding. The idea of paying for tests outside of class time provides school funding, gives those who value testing a vehicle to do so, takes it out of the classroom where some feel testing consumes valuable learning time and gives those who feel stressed by testing an opt out.

    I guess my attempt at humor can sound sarcastic – not the intention – thanks for pointing that out.

  • 42. OutsideLookingIn  |  December 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I thought the fundraiser idea was kind of funny rather than offensive. But I don’t have a gifted kid. Unless you count creating bodily noises on command as a gift.

    Parents only want their kid to take a test if it can result in getting something they specifically want….remediation, accelerated learning environment, Walmart gift card, etc. The same parent who wants to opt their kid out of standardized tests at school will not hesitate to shuttle their kid to a gifted test in hopes of getting into an rgc. Not judging this. You do what ya gotta do.

  • 43. HS Mom  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @42 – thanks! That talent is the envy of many a young boy.

    “Parents only want their kid to take a test if it can result in getting something they specifically want”. So true.

    Another consideration is that there are some kids more accurately evaluated by tests than by the classroom. A kid with ADHD whose grades suffer from the inability to follow through on assignments and continually misses work will be penalized regardless of their abilities.

  • 44. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I don’t necessarily want anything out of the ISAT – except to know how my kid is keeping up… so maybe I do want something.
    For additional testing, yes, I agree – gimme something in return (ie, the promise of differentiated learning, um… what else… oh, a place in an amazing modern school that doesn’t assign homework. I’d test him for that.)

  • 45. CPS Parent  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    44. cpsobsessed regarding differentiated learning the MAP seems to be well liked by teachers for that purpose.

    Regarding homework. At my son’s HS all math homework in all math classes is optional and is never graded. Math teachers also have the ability to see how students are performing when they solve problems in class on their calculators since the info from each device is wirelessly transmitted to the teacher’s laptop – essentially a continuous testing situation. The teacher knows, continuously and “live” how well each student is doing and can work with each as much as is needed in class or in tutoring sessions. If the whole class is not “getting” the lesson he can slow down or backtrack in real time.

    I think this type of continuous assessment could be developed for other classes as well when instructional material morphs to electronic tablets. I know there is at least one significant start-up company (partially backed by charter school money) which is developing the back end tech to do that kind of continuous monitoring and evaluation. It will also reveal, of course, how responsive the teacher is in real time.

  • 46. OutsideLookingIn  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Cpso – you just gave me an idea for a new charter school…

  • 47. cpsobsessed  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I’m in!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 48. Falconergrad  |  January 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Not sure where to post this so just going with the most recent post on testing. This is from memory, I did not write down so hopefully I have it more or less correct. At our LSC meeting on Tuesday the principal said she had received a message from CPS that the NWEA (or REACH, or aren’t they the same thing??) test data for k-2 is unreliable and that principals should consider not doing it for that age group. She said she took it as a directive and will not do it. I think this means that our kids had testing already and they will not have any follow up testing this year.

    Can anyone add to this info, clarify, correct it?? Thanks.

    Or just add to my feeling of disappointment that apparently teachers and students spent time on a waste of time.

  • 49. AE  |  January 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I believe that the NWEA (“MAP” test) is different from REACH. My understanding is that the NWEA test is computerized and intended to measure student growth in multiple, specific areas in reading and math. The test is given 2 or 3 times during the year (schools can opt out of mid-year testing, I believe). Per my school’s administrators, it actually gives fairly helpful data to the teacher about individual student needs and progress. At least at our school, it is only given to third graders and up.

    On the other hand, the REACH is a written test in a single area used as part of the teacher evaluation process. It is also repeated at the end of the year, but the focus is more on the teacher’s performance (as measured by student growth on the REACH test). From what I understand from our administrators, this test is not particularly useful in measuring student performance (and possibly not very good at capturing teacher performance either!).

    I’m sure there are teachers here who have better info than I have as a parent…. But I hope this helps.

  • 50. WorkingMommyof2  |  January 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Just came across this article about a school in Seattle where the teachers are defying the district’s mandate to give the MAP test.

    http://news.yahoo.com/standardized-test-backlash-seattle-teachers-just-no-230447459.html

  • 51. anonymouse teacher  |  January 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    @48, we got the same directive.
    @50. this is what I am hoping the CTU will do.
    @49, you should see the Reach benchmark test for 2nd quarter for kindergarten. Kids, kindergarten kids, have to write a paragraph, telling the main idea and details, complete with introduction sentence and conclusion about a story they listen to. For real. I was joking with my principal that given 1st quarter assessment for REACH was for my 5 year olds to write a fill in a the blank answer about the character’s feelings, (in part) if this is the jump in skills required, by the end of the year kindergarteners will have to write a 5 page essay. It is absolutely this most silly thing I have ever seen a school district require ever.
    I love my school so much, I had almost decided to stay in CPS until the new REACH quarterly assessment came out. At this point in my career, any move will cost me nearly 20K a year loss in pay. Totally worth it.

  • 52. anonymous  |  January 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Teachers grade the REACH test. Then, that test will be used as part of their evaluation. Silly…

    Our principal said that although the NWEA (MAP) test was deemed unreliable for K-2, we are doing it anyway…3 times per year. And that’s in addition to the TRC and DIBELS and mClass testing next week. The midyear testing window is one month.

  • 53. cpsemployee  |  January 12, 2013 at 7:54 am

    @52 Midyear testing using MAP for K-2 was optional; it’s a shame that your principal is making your school do it. I’m so glad that our Network let our principals decide and that our principal decided not to do it. As you said, K-2 is already doing DIBELS, TRC, and mclass. And our students are also doing ACCESS since we are heavily bilingual. January & February really stinks for those grades.

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