Here’s the lead from an education story in today’s Washington Post.
Knowing State Tests’ ‘Cut’ Scores
By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 22, 2007; Page B01
Charonda Godette and her mother are staring at a sheaf of black-and-white test reports in their kitchen, frustrated by a blunt indictment repeated over and over: “Fail/Does Not Meet.” In her first three years at Potomac Senior High School in Prince William County, the 17-year-old has flunked a slew of Virginia Standards of Learning exams: Earth science. Algebra II. And geometry — three times.
What also confounds Charonda and Carole Godette is something the reports omit. They do not show the number of correct answers required to pass the exams. (Boldface mine — Hugh)
There are a number of questions whirling about in my mind after reading this article, including:
1. Should state assessments model what best practices teach us about good assessment? (For example, good assessment includes useful feedback to increase learning and achievement.)
2. Would state education departments be playing such silly games (trying to second-guess teachers with regard to how they will teach the subject matter vis-a-vis the state “assessment”) if NCLB was out of the picture?
Folks, if this is the wave of the future, we are in deep yogurt. I’m scratching my head, trying to understand the value of concealing passing scores. Part of me thinks that if the teacher does good job reaching students and teaching the subject, the state tests will take care of themselves. But if we violate the integrity of assessment and try to make kids hit moving targets, aren’t we creating yet another distraction to getting the job done?
Yet more reasons, I believe, to abandon federal interference in state education.
If the feds want to do something, let the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith do its work, but contribute funding to states whose economies lag, and thereby level the playing fields.
I don’t mind some of my federal tax money going to another state that needs the help, if the feds would strip away the overlaying bureaucracy that currently wastes financial and emotional resources in every state.