Friday, May 18, 2012

Perfect Storm

Here's a prediction for 2014: That will be the year in which the current testing strategies for schools blow sky-high. I don't know what the replacement for our testing mania will be, but 2014 looks to be annus horribilis for school districts across the nation.

A few things will combine to cause this disaster. (1) The "national" testing created by two consortia of states will hit districts. Judging by the rates being paid to freelancers, the rigorous requirements of the Common Core State Standards, and the current lousy reputation of at least one of the testing companies hired to birth these new tests, I predict a slew of errors, over-the-top readability levels, and scores that make today's students look like geniuses in comparison. (2) The veil of secrecy surrounding the test preparation ensures that districts will not be ready to test all students on computer, because they will lack the bandwidth necessary for potential multimedia questions, they will not have adequate banks of computers for whatever the recommended numbers of test-takers might turn out to be, and they will not have time to prepare younger students with the skills they will need simply to perform the mechanics needed to select or type responses. (3) Because these tests are cloud-based computerized tests, no district will be able to test all students at once, because no district will have that kind of hardware plus bandwidth. Therefore, students will be tested in batches and questions will be randomized, leading to concerns about apples v. oranges as students in the same grade take different tests. Because students are tested in batches, more learning time will be lost as teachers oversee testing and perform grading tasks over several days rather than all at once. (4) Because teachers are now being assessed partly on how well their students do on these assessments, there will be hell to pay when those teachers discover that their students' scores are in the toilet thanks to (1) or (2) or (3).

1 comment:

Diane said...

Can't hardly wait! Maybe we'll get back to writing actual textbook materials then.