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Open Discussion: Standardized Testing Starts February 18th to the 22nd

Please note: Dan Rather has not yet posted the full documentary for viewing. You may see the synopsis at : Dan rather Reports

 

As students you have all had experiences with standardized testing.  Now you are all future teachers in training. Please post your ideas and perspectives on the efficacy of standardized testing on our students.  Feel free to post the positive and negative effects that you have personally experienced as students and as teachers.

The teachers at Garfield High have initiated a public awareness of an already growing national discussion in the debate over standardized testing.

The debate at Garfield is that they are not against testing in general, but are resistant to using the map assessment they believe it does not measure what they are expected to teach.  This opens up a venue for discussion for us.  Think about your states standardized test and ask yourself,

  1. Is this a quality test?”
  • “Does it align to curriculum?
  • Will it align to the new Common Core State Standards?
  • Does assessment ensure that the tests we use are the most valid and effective assessments?
  • Do they measure the skills that our students need for success?
  • Do these assessments provide teachers the information needed to help them analyze student needs?

 2. How did you feel as a student taking it?

3.  How do you feel as a future educator giving it?

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After watching the documentary on Garfield High School I was even more encouraged to become a teacher. It is hard to say thought which side I like best about standardized testing. I think it is good to have test to see how far students are in their education, BUT the test needs to follow the curriculum the teaching is teaching. It is not fair for teachers to be punished because their students are taking a test that they have not been taught anything about. I would say I lean more for not having standardized test. I think they are pretty pointless in some cases. A student is going to learn what the teaching is teaching them, not by a test that is given on random information that the government thinks we "should" know.

    I also think they if standardized testing was taken out of public schooling it take a huge weight off teachers shoulders. They then could relax and fully teacher their students the curriculum they should know they will better their future, and not stress on the fact that they are teaching something to their students that their students won't even be tested on.

  I live in Florida, so every year since I was in second grade I was to take the FCAT. I never really saw the purpose in this test because I was taking a test on basic education I had learned but their was some things on their I had never seen in my entire life. As a student it made me feel kind of dumb and not able to show my full potential as a student. Also in Florida to graduate high school you MUST pass the FCAT by your senior year of high school. Even though I started taking the FCAT when I was in second grade it did not count until I was in tenth grade. If you were able to pass the FCAT in the tenth grade then you no longer had to take it the rest of your high school career. If you by chance did not pass it your tenth grade year you still had two more years to take it. Being a teenager and having this huge amount of pressure put on you to pass a standardized test to pass high school is really tough! I had two very close friends who did not pass high school because of FCAT. There also was a chance of taking the ACT and SAT to cancel out your FCAT score, but again there was this huge amount of pressure to HAVE to pass this test.

I personally do NOT agree with standardized testing at all and I think it should be banned from the public school system.

The documentary on standardized testing is a conversational topic that can be misunderstood from both sides of educators and students. Since I’m currently a student, I will give my opinion on that side of the topic, but as a teacher, I can see how opinions can waver.

As a student, I disagree with the notion that standardized testing is a good means to categorize learning comprehensions. Even the most gifted students have down days when it comes to testing, so I don't feel that these tests are accurate means of assessing. I’m sure in general, the tests do align with the curriculum taught, but there always seems to be a few questions on those tests, that no one remembers learning. It’s my opinion that the tests to some degree provide teachers with information that can help them analyze their students, but I’m sure that's probably an assumption.  Most of my peers in middle and high school all have successfully passed the FCAT during critical grade points, but a few that didn’t always seems to be placed in some type of extra help class whether it was reading or math support. Since all students learn differently, I’m not sure how much those tests measure up to the skills needed for educational success. Success needs to lie in the hands of the learner and students need to have a desire to learn and achieve good grades themselves.

As an educator, I can see the turmoil behind standardized testing and assessing, since it cannot all lie in the hands of the teachers. I’m sure these test scores significantly differ amongst students during the course of each year, but I’m guessing that they can be used as an average means of measuring learning. I also do not think that teachers should have their salaries gauged over these performance assessments, especially since a few teachers in Florida educate outside their intended subject.

This was a very interesting documentary and I give the teachers, parents and students of Seattle recognition for standing up for what they feel is right.  Although I still have the Florida General Knowledge Placement test ahead of me, I take the responsibility of being prepare with a good level of knowledge learned from all my classes. 

I agree with you that after watching the documentary it was hard to decide which side had better views on testing. It is so controversial and hard to understand all the points. They each had interesting perspectives, depending on if you were a student, parent or teacher.

Teachers definitely should not be punished for student’s comprehensions. Students learn from a variety of levels and there must be additional responsibility on them. I’m certainly not for government deciding what’s solely best for students. They make enough decisions for Americans and cannot judge what’s going on in classrooms from a far.

            

Sara Hine said:

After watching the documentary on Garfield High School I was even more encouraged to become a teacher. It is hard to say thought which side I like best about standardized testing. I think it is good to have test to see how far students are in their education, BUT the test needs to follow the curriculum the teaching is teaching. It is not fair for teachers to be punished because their students are taking a test that they have not been taught anything about. I would say I lean more for not having standardized test. I think they are pretty pointless in some cases. A student is going to learn what the teaching is teaching them, not by a test that is given on random information that the government thinks we "should" know.

    I also think they if standardized testing was taken out of public schooling it take a huge weight off teachers shoulders. They then could relax and fully teacher their students the curriculum they should know they will better their future, and not stress on the fact that they are teaching something to their students that their students won't even be tested on.

  I live in Florida, so every year since I was in second grade I was to take the FCAT. I never really saw the purpose in this test because I was taking a test on basic education I had learned but their was some things on their I had never seen in my entire life. As a student it made me feel kind of dumb and not able to show my full potential as a student. Also in Florida to graduate high school you MUST pass the FCAT by your senior year of high school. Even though I started taking the FCAT when I was in second grade it did not count until I was in tenth grade. If you were able to pass the FCAT in the tenth grade then you no longer had to take it the rest of your high school career. If you by chance did not pass it your tenth grade year you still had two more years to take it. Being a teenager and having this huge amount of pressure put on you to pass a standardized test to pass high school is really tough! I had two very close friends who did not pass high school because of FCAT. There also was a chance of taking the ACT and SAT to cancel out your FCAT score, but again there was this huge amount of pressure to HAVE to pass this test.

I personally do NOT agree with standardized testing at all and I think it should be banned from the public school system.

The documentary that Dan Rather put together on standardized testing was very informational. It made points about both the pros and cons on standardized testing. Before watching the video, I was very much leaning toward the negatives and that standardized testing was just a waste of time. After reading the posts others have put, it opened my eyed to there actually being positives about these kind of testings. I do think that Garfield High School was right about the particular testing they were required to take was very informal. Especially when they pointed out that the questions did not even pertain to a grade level.

I grew up in the school systems that required the same kind of testing. I remember disliking it very much, I felt like it had no meaning to it. I do believe that testing is very important for students, but not the kind that places you in a ranking. I think that testing is a very good way of seeing the progression of a student's knowledge. In Florida, we are required to take the FCAT, it is very similar to the MAP, although it is not on the computer. This particular test were the judges of ranking the schools. I personally believe it should not be that way, but it is a good type of testing to help see the child's knowledge in what the subjects are.

I am kind of in the middle of being for and against standardized testing.

What a frustrating topic.  With only a few of us responding at this point, we can see what a controversial issue this is.  I think Rather had a particular goal in his interview.  I think he wanted to put a negative association to  all standardized testing.  The only test he really spent any time on was the MAP.  Of course that's an unfair test.  I wish he had been more thorough with his questions.

I do stand by my previous post;  testing is valid, but I also agree with Nicole in that the FCAT should not be the sole tool in ranking a school.  Many factors should be weighed.  The FCAT scores tell you how many students could perform on a test.  There's so much more to a schools culture than test scores.  

  1. Is this a quality test?”- i do not think that standardized tests can accurately measure a students knowledge of a subject.
  • “Does it align to curriculum?- yes some standardized test do align with some curriculum.
  • Will it align to the new Common Core State Standards?  - The standardized test could align to the New Common Core standards
  • Does assessment ensure that the tests we use are the most valid and effective assessments?- no, i believe that the test do not ensure that we have the most valid assessments.
  • Do they measure the skills that our students need for success?- the standardized test do not measure the skills because a student could be the best student in class but have the worst test taking skills.
  • Do these assessments provide teachers the information needed to help them analyze student needs? yes, the tests do provide the information.

 2. How did you feel as a student taking it?- when i was a student, i did not like taking the fcat. i felt that it didn't measure what i have learned in school. i do not think that students should have to take the FCAT to graduate high school

3.  How do you feel as a future educator giving it?-  i would not like giving a standardized test. i feel that it doe not adequately measure the skills of the students in general. the students scores should not effect the pay and salaries of teachers.

When looking at any kind of testing or assessments done in schools, I think back to when I was in high school. I think back to the expectations of what colleges were looking for, a well rounded and educated individual. Today's focus on testing throughout the United States is deeply flawed in that many states are relying on a test to define a student, and the student's teacher(s). Testing should be for a specific purpose, which inherently makes it relevant to the student taking it. Testing should be to assess knowledge and comprehension of subjects, and testing should be a "tool" that is part of a student's portfolio. Test(s) should not be the student's portfolio.

As an educator today, I teach early childhood education; our goal is to develop the whole child. We do not just focus on cognitive skills; we focus on physical development, language, how a child learns and social/emotional skills. To decide if a child is ready for kindergarten, I do not just assess their cognitive skill set and say, "yep, they know their letters and numbers, they are good to go". I have to look at the child's ability to understand concepts, their ability to function in a group and alone, their understanding of rules, etc. This same idea should be applied to all students regardless of their age. If a child scores poorly on a "standardized" test, that should not be the only indicator to holding them back. Yet, in Florida, that is exactly what we do; if a child does not achieve a certain score on their FCAT in the 3rd grade, they are held back. I have four children of my own, who are all different, and test differently. Two are gifted and of those two, one scored a perfect score on their FCAT. My other two are not effective test takers, and were held back. Of those two, one has processing issues,  and the other can verbally answer anything you want to know but writing is difficult.

Standardized testing should never be used as the indicator for any student or teacher. They should be used as a tool in the student's overall portfolio, and the information used by teachers, administrators and parents to decide how students progress. They can also be used as part of an assessment package for a teacher's review or evaluation but not the sole defining factor for a teacher to receive a raise (or for a school to receive funding). Standardized testing should also be relevant for the children taking it; to expect children to understand material they have never seen before is ridiculous. The tests should be taken from the curriculum's lessons, not the curriculum being based on information from the test. That is backwards and counter-productive.

The overall message should be that students are individuals; to base anyone's "success" on a test makes our society rigid and unfair. We want a society of well-rounded and educated individuals, not a society of "test-takers".

I don't think standardized testing such as the MAP or FCAT is a quality test to show where a student is at. I believe these types of assessments can only show so much. I think our country should have some type of uniform test in every state. I don't think Florida should have one test and then Washington should have a completely different test. It should be the same throughout the whole country.

As a student, I remember always stressing about the FCAT. Just knowing we HAVE to pass it or else we get held back a grade, or even in high school cannot graduate. I think teachers and the school district put too much stress on the test. I don't even think it is accurate enough to show what the student really knows. It's only multiple choice on a scantron and then the writing portion. Maybe have a test where the student can write more to show what they truly know. As for my experience, I remember I had all A's and only 3 B's in my four years of high school, and when it came down to it I couldn't pass the reading FCAT. I had to retake it numerous times. Luckily I finally passed it. However, with my own experience of doing so well throughout high school and then bombing the FCAT, is why I do not support standardized testing. 

From a teacher's perspective, I do feel we need some type of test to show whether or not a student understands the subject matter. But that is where I believe a different test should be used, not standardized testing like the MAP. 

I personally do not remember taking any mandatory standardized testing when I was a student. As a teacher I don't think I would be happy having to teach students how to pass a mandatory standardized test. I think that if a student doesn't pass the standardized test they will automatically shut themselves out of school because they will think they are not smart enough to understand. I also don't believe that standardized tests fully show how much information a student absorbs because there are so many different ways a student could show the correct answer. Also one of the teachers in the video talked about how he thought showing the students their testing grades helps them set goals for themselves, although I think that if he created his own "testing" then he could do that for himself and not have to rely on standardized testing.

Just like the teachers at Garfield I am not for testing on material that is not part of the curriculum for that grade level.

It should be a test that is on the core curriculum for that grade level.  If it does not align to the curriculum then it is not a quality test. A quality test would align to the most recent Common Core State Standards and test on that, because we are then testing to the curriculum. Our Curriculum should be based off of the Common Core State Standards.  If it isn't directly based off of the standards,then it needs to shown how it is connected to those standards.  

I do not feel that the assessment ensures that the test we use are the most valid and effective assessments.  They are multiple choice.  Where is the critical thinking?  Some kids do better with short answer test and essay test.  Some kids do better with multiple choice tests.  How do we know that the kids are not just making a pretty pattern on their test forms?

When I was growing up, we had a standardized test called the MMAT (Missouri Mastery Achievement Test).  It was a multiple choice test that the students had to take every year.  It showed us our results and where we were compared to other kids our age.  At no point did it affect if we  were graduating high school, moving on to the next grade.  It gave the upcoming teacher a picture of where we were academically.  It was a test nobody liked taking, cause it lasted a whole week and it was very tedious. However, I did feel that it prepared me for the ACT and how to manage my time on that test.  

Do standardized testing measure the skills needed for success?  No, they do not.  Most jobs require a great deal of critical thinking.  The standardized test makes sure you know the basics and that you can pick out the correct answer in a choice between 4 or 5 answers, but where does it test and prove that you have the critical thinking skills needed to be successful?

I do believe though, that the standardized test do provide the teachers the information that they need to help them analyze the students needs.  The test shows the teacher where the child is behind and/or struggling , even the concepts that they are struggling with.  It shows the teacher where their strongest area is.  It can even point the teacher in the direction that the student learns the best.

I hated taking the MMAT as a student.  Mainly because I do not like multiple choice tests.  I was very stressed.  As a parent, I am not as stressed as I was when I was doing the test.  My children are stressed and freaked out about it.  My fifth grader right now, is not as worried about it as he was in 3rd grade, but still it is on his mind already.

I feel that if the test is set up to follow the same standards I am suppose to be teaching, then I have no problem with the test.  I do not feel that the test should be the only thing taught.  It should be a sampling of what should be being taught anyways.  I do hope that like the SAT and ACT they start producing practice tests.  That way we as teachers could eliminate the fear the students have about the test because it is an unknown.

In answer to the question "Is this a quality test?" I would have to reply "No. If teachers at a high school that is rated as "one of the best" nationwide takes issue with the MAP test, I say we should listen.  The test was cited as not being aligned with the curriculum, so how could it possibly measure what has been taught if there is a mismatch, for example, as was pointed out in the video, you cannot asses knowledge of algebra with a geometry question, it simply is not valid and does not measure the skills taught. Additionally, it is very telling that the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers union and legislators in Washington, D.C. took notice of this as well. A test named "Measures of Academic Progress" that has been described as creating an inequality and being unfair is not something I want my future students subjected to.

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