Posts Tagged "testing"

EdNext Poll on Testing


[Source: The 2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform
WINTER 2016 / VOL. 16, NO. 1]

Over the last few months, the national conversation about public education seems to have shifted from a debate over the Common Core State Standards to a debate over state testing.  Daily, newspapers feature stories about states dropping out of the Common Core testing consortia, PARCC or Smarter Balanced; states abandoning long-standing state testing contracts; and parents opting [their children] out of taking state tests.  Increasingly, state legislatures are examining ways to reduce the number of tests students have to take.

A new poll by Education Next suggests that there may be less hostility towards testing than the media would have us believe.  The nationally representative survey solicited responses from approximately 4,000 members of the general public, parents and teachers.

When asked:  “Do you support or oppose the federal government continuing to require that all students be tested in math and reading each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school?” respondents answered as follows:

Members of the public:  67% supported vs. 21% opposed continuing the federal requirements for annual testing (contained in the federal  No Child Left Behind Act)
Parents:  66% supported vs. 23% opposed continuing the federally-mandated testing;
Teachers:  47% supporting vs. 46% opposed continuing the federally mandated testing.

In answer to the question, “Do you support or oppose letting parents decide whether to have their children take state math and reading tests?” The responses were as follows:

Members of the public:  25% supported vs. 59% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state tests;
Parents:  32% supported vs. 52% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing;
Teachers:  32% supported vs. 57% opposed giving parents the right to “opt-out” of state testing.

While federal and state policymakers may change the type, number and timing of tests students have to take, testing will remain an indispensable part of our education system.  Learning List’s independent alignment reports help educators understand how the instructional materials they use may be affecting their students’ test results.  If students repeatedly missed test questions associated with a particular standard or group of standards, teachers can refer to Learning List’s alignment report(s) to determine (1) whether the district’s instructional material(s) is/are aligned to those standards, and (2) more specifically, whether the specific citations (e.g., page numbers, lessons) they assigned are aligned to those standards.  If either the material or the citations were not aligned to those standards, students likely did not learn what those standards required them to know.  Either situation is easily fixed by providing supplemental materials aligned to those standards or by assigning other citations listed in the publisher’s correlation that have been verified to be aligned to those standards.

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The Thigh Bone’s Connected to the Hip Bone; the Hip Bone’s Connected to the …

It’s axiomatic: students can’t learn what they are not being taught. As the song (above) suggests, if your instructional materials (IMs) are not well aligned to the state’s standards, your students’ test scores will likely reflect it.

Here’s why:

– Studies have shown that teachers rely on their IMs for 80% of their curriculum. They expect that the IMs their district has purchased are aligned to the standards.

– If the IMs are not aligned to 100% of the standards and teachers don’t know where the deficits are, they will not adjust their instruction (with supplemental materials and/or instructional strategies) to make up for the materials’ deficits.

– If students are not taught the knowledge and skills the standards require them to know, they won’t ace the state tests.

– Teachers, campuses and districts are evaluated based on their students’ performance.

Bottom line: If your students have underperformed on a standard or group of standards, the first step to remediating the problem is to examine the alignment of your instructional materials. A simple way to improve your students’ test scores is to go through this analysis:

Step 1: Are the IMs your teachers are using aligned to those standards?

If the IMs are not aligned to those standards, your teachers should either (a) incorporate into their lesson plans supplemental resources that are aligned to that/those standard(s); or (b) adjust their instructional strategies (e.g,, questioning) to make up for the deficit(s) in the material’s coverage of the standards.

Step 2: If the material is aligned to those standards, you must determine whether all of the citations for that/those standard are aligned or whether there are some citations that are not aligned.

Click Image for YouTube Video [Source: Super Simple Songs]

Click Image for YouTube Video [Source: Super Simple Songs]

If some citations are not aligned and your teachers assigned the non-aligned citations, students were not being taught everything those standards require them to know; thus, they did not master the test questions covering those standards.

Bottom line: The degree to which your instructional materials are aligned will likely be reflected in your students’ test results. If your district subscribes to Learning List, our alignment reports make this analysis easy. Under Training Resources, see the step-by-step guidance on “Analyzing your Test Results.”

If you want to set your students (and teachers) up for success, make sure the materials you are using (either individually or in the aggregate) are aligned to each standard. If you use a product series that spans multiple grade levels, you need to review the alignment of the product at each grade level because the alignment may vary greatly from grade level to grade level.

The “hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the ….” Your instructional materials will impact your students’ and teachers’ success.

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Alignment to Standards – a Critical Factor In Raising Student Achievement

As you are preparing to welcome students into your classrooms, you’re probably thinking a lot about how you are going to provide the best instruction for your students. Research studies have provided us with the top factors that increase student achievement. Strong teachers and principals with great leadership skills are two factors cited in many studies as central to improving student achievement. A third commonly cited factor in raising student achievement is teaching the standards. That sounds simple but it’s not.

To teach the standards, teachers must know what students are required to learn and demonstrate. If a teacher does not teach the material to the depth and complexity required by the standards, students may not succeed in that grade or subject, no matter how hard the teacher works.

To help educators teach what the standards demand, instructional materials must align to the standards. To be aligned, a lesson must meet the content, context, and cognitive rigor of the standard. In the next few weeks, our blog posts will address these three critical components of the standards.

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