everythingyoualwayswantedtosaybutwereafraid

Things you always wanted to say but were afraid

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Texas education officials decry ‘over-testing’ in public schools

This is a good article if your interested in testing in Texas. 

 

By  Will Weissert

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated: 11:53 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

Published: 6:39 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

State Board of Education members pressed the Texas education commissioner on Thursday about whether an abundance of high-stakes standardized testing is warping classroom teaching to ensure students spend more time preparing for the exams then actual learning.

Robert Scott, head of the Texas Education Agency, responded that having kids cram is “a perversion of what’s intended” and that tests are supposed to ensure students don’t fall through the cracks while holding teachers and school districts accountable.

But Scott also acknowledged that some schools over-prepare for tests whose results have become the overwhelming standard by which education is measured statewide.

Republican board member George Clayton, a Dallas English teacher, complained that some schools have become little more than testing centers, offering mini-exams every two weeks to prepare for full, end-of-the-year standardized tests.

“Perversion? It’s being truthful about what’s happened in many schools, that testing has taken over,” Clayton said. “That’s all we do is test and prepare for tests. Make an assessment, look at the data, prepare another test; from August until the end of the school year.”

Scott said, “We do have many districts and many campuses that are overemphasizing testing” and noted a backlash against a perception that students are being over-tested. He pointed to unsuccessful legislation in the Texas House that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on standardized testing.

“Parents care about kids; teachers care about kids,” Scott said. “The system doesn’t give a damn about kids unless you make it care, and that’s really what the idea of testing and accountability was about.”

He said testing ensures “different subgroups of kids” are not overlooked while higher-performing students pull up the average for a school or district that is then deemed successful overall.

But Scott added that while simply spending a year teaching for standardized tests “won’t work” and doesn’t improve students’ scores, it’s hard for state officials to legislate against such behavior, which has only been encouraged by how much credence Texas now gives to test results.

“I think testing’s important, but you’ve reached a point now where you’ve created this one thing that the entire system is dependent on,” he said. “It is the heart of the vampire, so to speak. All you have to do is kill that, and you’ve killed a whole lot of things, and I don’t think that’s healthy.”

The discussion came as officials implement the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test, which students begin taking in March and which replaces a much-maligned previous standardized test known as TAKS.

But the new test has drawn criticism from parents, school administrators and some business leaders because its results count toward 15 percent of ninth-graders’ grades in core subjects.

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State testing in Texas is stupid

The high cost of TAKS

By Eric Dexheimer | Thursday, March 19, 2009, 09:40 AM
Austin American Statesman

The high cost of TAKS

The Texas Education Agency outsources the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills to NCS Pearson Inc., which helps develop the tests. In 2000, the agency signed Pearson to a five-year contract worth $47.45 million — about $9.5 million a year to administer tests to the state’s students.

When that contract expired, TEA and Pearson inked a new five-year deal. This time, though, it was worth $160 million, which, at $32 million a year, represented nearly a fourfold increase.

Since 2005, however, the contract has been modified several times. The result: This year alone the state will pay Pearson $88 million to test Texas children.

Why the big jump? “The predominant reason is the increase in the number of assessments,” says Gloria Zyskowski, TEA’s deputy associate commissioner of student assessments. Thanks to the Legislature’s fondness for standardized testing, as well as the growing requirements from the federal No Child Left Behind laws, Texas students are being tested more and more.

The original TAKS was implemented in 2003. Today, thanks largely to No Child Left Behind demands, the exam has multiplied to four different TAKS (“modified,” “alternative,” and “linguistically accommodated” versions, in addition to the standard exam). A new “End of Course” assessment is being added. During the 2002-03 school year, the TEA administered 60 separate standardized tests. This year, Zyskowski says, the number will be 138.

Testing-related materials add more to the bill. In 2004, TEA signed a four-year, $17.7 million contract with Grow Network for study guides designed for high school students who don’t pass TAKS. A 2006 contract pays Pearson another $8.8 million through 2011 for summer remediation study guides.

When added up, taxpayers will pay about $93 million this year to administer standardized tests to Texas students, Zyskowski says, or nearly ten times the cost of just nine years earlier.

Although this is dated (2009) it is just a snapshot of the stupidity of the Texas Legislature and their ideas about standardized testing. Someone should check out the connection between NCS Pearson and the Legislature.

I am ready to give this a try

Well, retirement has set in.  Guess what?  I haven’t had my watch on since the middle of December.  But boy have I worked.  My house will take another full time job to get back to the shape it was in when I was younger.  Now something I always wanted to say.  How come bosses today have to be “leaders” and keep kissing butt all the time.  You have to kiss the bosses, kiss the customers, kiss the employees so their egos aren’t damaged.  Get real people.  My dad said go to work and shut up.  You may need the paycheck or the services.  Be polite and get it done.  You shouldn’t have to spend so much time and energy kiss all those butts.  Besides they don’t have a strong enough toothpaste for it!

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