Posts Tagged ‘Measurement’

Biden’s Broken Promise on Tests Revisited: MAYBE His Team Decided that Undoing a Bi-Partisan Agreement Was Unwise

March 24, 2021 1 comment

Over the past several days I have gleaned a fat virtual folder full of articles bemoaning Biden’s broken promise on standardized testing. The sources include the Washington Post, Education Week, Forbes, the Progressive, and USA Today… and there were countless others that covered the same ground. 

The reasons for suspending tests during this year and giving policy makers a chance to figure out a better means of assessment are compelling. We know that not all students will take the tests since many students have “disappeared”. We know that many students were able to make a rapid transition to online learning because they had the connectivity and hardware to do so and it is a safe bet that THOSE students will outperform the students who lacked wither bandwidth or hardware. We know from decades of testing what the results will be: students from affluent communities or neighborhoods and/or with college educated parents will outperform students from poverty stricken communities or neighborhoods and/or with parents who failed to complete formal schooling. So what will the tests show us, exactly? Some policy makers claim it is necessary to underscore the deficiency inherent in online learning. Others claim it is necessary to show us how much “learning loss” occurred on the presumption that standardized tests measure “learning” and failure to do well on these tests means that students learned less. 

I am disappointed that the Biden administration did not seize this opportunity to postpone the tests with the stated purpose of replacing them with some other metric… but then… I looked at the long list of highly partisan issues he faces as he enters his Presidency. In his first few moths, Mr. Biden will need to deal with:

  • The January 6 insurrection: the trials of those who breached the Capitol, the handling of the elected officials whose fabulation of a stolen election might have contributed to that insurrection, and the possibility that some of the elected officials may have directly aided and abetted insurrectionists.
  • The mismanaged response to COVID-19, the so-called “Chinese flu”. The decision to federalize the response  resulted in uneven management of supplies and mixed messaging at the state level while the repeated use of the misnomer “Chinese flu”, often delivered with a sneer, resulted in the scapegoating of Asian Americans.
  • The predictable immigration crisis that resulted when Central American families sensed that new leadership in Washington might lead to less restrictive entry into the US. 
  • The need to mend fences with former allies attempting to address a multitude of complicated interdependent problems like climate change, regional wars, the imposition of authoritarian rule, and the refugee crisis that results from all of the above. Solving these problems will require consensus building and a major shift in the thinking of many voters. 
  • The need to restore faith in the government and competent leadership through qualified appointees. Mr. Biden’s challenges are best exemplified by the current state of the US Post Office where a Trump mega-donor is using the slash-and-burn tactics that resulted in several lost lawsuits in the private sector and whose actions appeared to undercut the public’s confidence in mail-in voting in the lead up to the election. 
  • The need to push back against 22 State AGs who do not want the billions in ARP funds earmarked for their states to be distributed based on the funding formula built into the legislation. 

And now, in the wake of two horrific shootings, Joe Biden needs to tackle the highly contentious issue of limiting the acquisition of firearms. Looking at this list of highly contentious and partisan issues, I can understand why Joe Biden might have decided to defer action on standardized testing. The laws requiring the administration of standardized tests were enacted with the support of both political parties and they will be open for debate when the funding for it expires at the end of this fiscal year. Moreover, he can point to the huge influx of cash he included for public schools in ARP and the many infrastructure projects that will help public schools as evidence that he wants to restore the public’s faith in their mission and purpose. I will hold my critique of Mr. Biden until ESSA is up for reauthorization, at which point I hope he will offer a new path forward for accountability. 

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NYS Bill Proposes Regulating the Tests Used to Screen Job Applicants for Validity… Maybe the Legislature Should Look Into Tests Screening for “Gifted” Students

March 17, 2021 Comments off

This morning’s New York Times has an article by Alexandra Reeve Givens, chief executive of the Center for Democracy & Technology, Hilke Schellman and Julia Stoyanovich, professors at New York University focusing on artificial intelligence, on the mis-use of testing for job applicants. The article describes how variousonline and pencil and paper tests screen applicants in a fashion that could well exclude minorities, females, and “non-traditional” applicants who are highly qualified for the jobs. In the article, the authors suggest:

“The bill should also require validity testing, to ensure that the tools actually measure what they claim to, and it must make certain that they measure characteristics that are relevant for the job.”

When I read this sentence the first thought that fame to mind was that MAYBE the bill could be expanded to look into the validity of the standardized tests used to “measure” gifted pre-schoolers, applicants to competitive high schools, and colleges. There is no evidence that SAT tests have any predictive validity and the use of any single test to determine “giftedness” is ipso facto wrongheaded. The writers of the Times article make a compelling case that the various screening devices used in the private sector are discriminatory in an unfair and invalid. The discrimination done before entry into the workforce has a far more devastating impact than job screening tests. A child who is identified as “ungifted and untalented” before entering school is unlikely to see that label change in the next 13 years. When a door is closed before Kindergarten classes begin it is hard to reopen.

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The Network for Public Education Isn’t Abandoning Hope… They Identified Some Legislators Who are Willing to Urge the Abandonment of Standardized Testing for 2021 in Hopes it Will Be Abandoned Forever

March 16, 2021 Comments off

The Network for Public Education, a non-profit founded by Diane Ravitch and joined by teachers, administrators, parents, and voters who are opposed to the test-and-punish methods promoted by those who seek to privatize public schools, has hot given up hope. Published below is a post from the Tennessee Education Report that urges all readers to call their House members to encourage them to get on board with the cancellation of tests for 2021 in hopes that this method of accountability will be abandoned in the future:


In response to the Biden Administration’s insistence that students will take standardized tests this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Members of Congress are urging Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to rethink that decision and cancel the tests. Now, the Network for Public Education is urging action to support these Members of Congress in their efforts.

Here’s more from the NPE email:

In December of 2019, candidate Joe Biden promised that if elected, he would stop standardized testing. His Department of Ed, however, said that we should have testing in the middle of the pandemic.

We pushed back and today, we have good news! Some members of Congress are asking the U.S. Department of Education to change its mind about testing! Read about it here. Let’s give them our support TODAY!

We need more members of Congress to get on board. We can’t give up.

1. Call Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office at: (202) 225-4965.

Here is a suggested script.

My name is (name). I am calling to request that Speaker Pelosi ask the President and Secretary Cardona to grant waivers from annual testing. Forcing schools to administer annual tests undermines the administration’s call to support our students’ social-emotional and mental health in this time of crisis. We need to put children, not data, first. Thank you.

2. Then call your Representative and Senators. You can find their numbers here and here.

Here is a suggested script.

“My name is (name), and I am a constituent of (name). I strongly oppose the Department of Ed’s recent letter that forces schools to administer annual tests this year. All of our schools’ efforts must be used to support our students’ social-emotional and mental health in this time of crisis.  I am requesting that (name) speak with the President and Secretary Cardona and ask them to grant waivers from the annual testing mandate. Thank you.”

It’s 6:15 AM as I write this… but I am making four phone calls today.