Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Still no Louisiana Test Data

I attended the first meeting of the Louisiana Curriculum Standards Review Committee today. Dr. Regina Sanford from St. Tammany is chair of the oversight committee. She demonstrated a refreshing attitude of openness to all participants and to members of the public who showed up to make suggestions to the committee. This to me was a big improvement compared to previous education committee chairs who seemed only interested in implementing John White's vision of test/blame/punish and ultimate privatization of public education.

Dr Sanford also made a firm commitment to seek PARCC test results for the committee to utilize as part of their standards review process. I had pointed out in my public statement to the committee that reviewing the curriculum standards without the benefit of the half million test results from the Spring 2015 testing was like asking a mechanic to fine tune a complex engine without access to the computer diagnostics for that engine.

On the negative side, there are major problems with the conduct of the standards rewrite.

  • The time available for the committees to work on the standards is extremely limited because of the pressure to implement in time to allow Spring 2016 testing. In my opinion there is no way that significant changes can be made no matter how dedicated the reviewers may be. As discussed in my previous post, the insane testing mandate is the tail wagging the dog.
  • The public input portal for the submission of suggestions to the committee do not allow much flexibility for parents and teachers to introduce innovative ideas that conflict significantly with the present Common Core standards. Most responses indicated that most of the standards should remain as they are.
  • The basic concepts guiding the Common Core are automatically being used as a starting point to produce the new standards. This process is not conducive to change.
  • As of now, the committee has no data on the effectiveness of the present standards because the results of the 2015 testing have not yet been released by the LDOE.
I intend to continue monitoring the review process and report on the progress of the committee.

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KimberlyDtchr said...

Mr. Deshotels,
It is with appreciation I read this particular post for the Louisiana Educator blog. My respect for you once again appears justified: You reported the dedication of the committee chair and cast a stark contrast to previous "teacher/collaborative efforts" (that seemed... "not"). Your viewpoint as a former/retired science educator provides needed clarity for those who may not be formally-trained professional educators. Please allow my offering to the desired clarity as I am a current professional early childhood educator who is also ESL (English as a Second Language) certified.

I personally spent a couple of hours reading and considering every single first grade ELA standard. By about 5:1, I offered a suggested "tweak" to the standards in terms of vocabulary, clarity of outcomes, and developmental appropriateness. All one had to do was select the option to make changes or divide the standard into more than one standard. The person then was given the option to write whatever he or she deemed needful. Therefore, the opinion you have stated about the lack of availability to make comments just does not ring true with my experience.

The second bell ring for me is the repeated mantra of the CCSS not being evaluated for effectiveness. No, we have not received the results of the PARCC-like test. HOWEVER, teachers have through observations and anecdotal records "evaluated" the standards. No, not by a "standardized test" (aren't these of the Devil anyway?). I seem to recollect throughout all our arguments against the validity of a single standardized assessment of student performance that the PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS' JUDGEMENTS should be respected. Does this same standard not apply in this set of particulars? My logic is that it does.

Please give consideration to these points I have shared today, Mr. Deshotels. I need to know that the scientific method is still alive and well and utilized in our beloved Louisiana.

Michael Deshotels said...

Thank you Kimberly. I appreciate your input and questions. Here is my take on the points you raised.
#1 My concern with the public input portal is that it pretty much restricted citizens to commenting on the Common Core standards that are now in place. I believe the legislature intended a more varied review. That's why I suggested that the present standards be at least compared with the previous GLEs. This request was partially approved for the committee by the provision of the crosswalk data relating GLEs to the CCSS. But no such option was provided at the public input portal.
#2 On the review of the testing data, my purpose in recommending an item analysis of each question on the Spring PARCC-like test along with an Identification of the standard being tested was to provide a more practical analysis of whether or not a particular standard is working in as measured by the tests. If some items have an extremely high failure rate, it may be due to the inappropriateness of the standard or age level issues.

My point is that the common core was never field tested using real assessment questions, yet in the real world the test results are the only data that count in rating programs, schools, and teachers. So we can't possibly consider revising standards without looking at the test results produced by each standard. I don't like this at all and believe that it is producing all sorts of bad unintended consequences such as teaching to the test and neglect of other important education goals in favor of the subjects being tested.

Why is it that there is accountability for everyone but the LDOE and their testing company? Could a teacher get away with giving a student a grade for the year without a bunch of test grades in her/his roll book? The LDOE expects everything you do as a teacher to be data driven yet they feel no urgency to supply the data they have collected.

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