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Posts published in “Day: January 20, 2014”

The problem with Common Core testing

manning TRAVIS
MANNING

 
Opinion

We have reached a testing crisis in Idaho and Common Core hasn’t helped. As a current high school English teacher, I know. We are over-testing children, including the new 8-hour Common Core test: theSmarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

In high school alone we give students the PSAT, SAT, IELA, PLAN, ACT, pre- and post-tests, end-of-semester exams, ASVAB, Science ISAT, AP tests, SBAC, PLATO, benchmarks, Career Information System (CIS) and sometimes the NAEP. Not all students take every test every year, but the testing process disrupts the entire school calendar, regardless. Testing burns weeks of instructional time, clogs up school computer labs, and costs millions. Special education students are given even more tests, often with accommodations to take as much time as they need, soaking up weeks more in a teacher’s curriculum calendar.

I support the Common Core standards generally, but I do not support the high-stakes test, the SBAC.

Last year I wrote an op-ed in support of Common Core, but there are some ongoing concerns since then that haven’t been addressed by policymakers: fiscal strain, increased class sizes, cutting necessary programs and courses, teacher and student privacy issues, and tying teacher merit pay to SBAC.

The proposed teacher career ladder is coming down the pike, but details are sketchy. Idaho legislators want to tie as much as 50 percent of SBAC scores to teacher pay. “Our students are the most over-tested in the world,” writes education historian Dr. Diane Ravitch in a January 11, 2014 speech. “No other nation—at least no high-performing nation — judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools.”

We have become a nation infatuated with standardized testing and, in the process, have given private testing companies the onus for unnecessarily labeling schools, children and teachers. Groups like the Albertson Foundation and their Don’t Fail Idaho campaign continue to beat public schools about the head with statistics. Their campaign is meant to inform – but also to demoralize public schools – in order to privatize them, convert them into for-profit charters. (more…)

On the front page

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Drone look at pygmy rabbit turf (Boise Statesman)
Review Inslee's legislative proposals (Moscow News)
Another record year on the farm (Nampa Press-Tribune)
Flag football league at Nampa (Nampa Press-Tribune)
New grade school at Murtaugh (TF Times News)

YMCA and store both want Civic site (Eugene Register Guard)
Fish have too much mercury in Rogue River (Ashland Tidings)
$100K art project planned for Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Woodburn police sue leadership (Portland Oregonian)

Seahawks go to Super Bowl (just about all)
More on bikini coffee owner in court (Everett Herald)
Inslee's legislative plans addressed (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Digital records coming at St. John hospital (Longivew News)
State bill would regulate drones (Port Angeles News)
Repairs on Greene Street bridge (Spokane Spokesman)