Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why Our State LEAP Tests Are Not Valid

In this most recent weekly newsletter to local school administrators and teachers, John White basically refutes the main premise of our state ELA  LEAP tests. Those tests are based on the premise that “close reading” skills used in our tests should allow students to score well on our PARCC based tests. Now he is using the excuse that our students just don’t have the life experiences that are needed to perform well on such standardized tests. This is exactly what experienced educators tried to tell him when he came to Louisiana on a mission to transform our Louisiana education system into a “no excuses “ college prep education for even the most disadvantaged students. His arrogant uninformed policies have failed as everyone will see when the NAEP test results are released.

Specifically, the PARCC based tests White has mandated for all of our grade 3-8 students are invalid and inappropriate for our students and for rating our schools and teachers!

White now needs to write a newsletter explaining why the math LEAP tests are also inappropriate for our students. Here’s a couple of hints about what is wrong with the math tests: (1) The LEAP math tests given particularly in grades 6-8, are not testing the practical math skills that are really relevant to the great majority of our students. We know this partially because after three years of the new testing, students in those grades are averaging less than 40% correct answers on most tests. Many of the math questions are on problems that students will never see in real life! (2) White needs to also point out that the sophistication of the language used on the math tests is much above the heads of many of our students. Many of the math questions are testing language skills instead of math skills.

The LEAP test given to Louisiana students are just not valid and do not prepare our students to score well on the real tests used to compare Louisiana to other states. Those tests are the reading and math tests referred to as the NAEP tests given every two years in all states. Some of us warned BESE and White that Louisiana is not rehearsing students for the right tests.

The NAEP test results are to be released today! I have not seen those results but I am pretty sure that Louisiana students will not score as well as those in other states.

Another big problem with all our LEAP tests is that they are not designed by local teachers who understand the background of the students they teach. When White rammed through the state review of the Common Core standards and rebranded them as the Louisiana Standards, he never allowed our teachers to change a single question on the PARCC tests upon which our LEAP tests are based. So fixing (or attempting to fix) the standards never fixed the tests!

Some educators have tried to explain to BESE that there is no freedom allowed to local school systems in choosing curriculum, because the LEAP tests are the curriculum. And those tests are not valid.

Not long after the first PARCC tests were given, I made a public records request to review the underlying raw scores upon which the scale scores are based. At first the LDOE said such scores were not available for review. So then I got 6 legislators to sign on to the public records request and soon the real test scores were magically produced. The raw scores showed that the average scores of our students were so low, and the cut scores were set so low, that many students could come close to attaining a passing score by random guessing. I then went before BESE and explained that the testing system was not valid. When such conditions exist, independent testing experts will tell you that the test is not valid! (Needless to say, the LABI AND JOHN WHITE CONTROLLED BESE, IGNORED THE FACTS)

John White must stop inflicting child abuse on our students with these lousy tests. Better yet, White needs to go back to New York!

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