Every Spring (2016 was the 2nd year) students in certain grades, in Washington State, spend hours and hours taking a series of tests that OSPI (State Superintendent of Schools) says are necessary and important and useful to help gauge how well students are doing AND to help plan their future education.
When the program was introduced OSPI said it would not take much time and they would NOT “teach to the test”. The scores that came back in 2014/2015 were terrible. Here is a link to the results by grade for the Battle Ground School District [Note: you can change the district to yours]: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/Summary.aspx?schoolId=43&reportLevel=District&year=2014-15&yrs=2014-15
Here is a snapshot of the scores in table form:
As you can see nearly 50% of ALL students “failed”
In 2013-2014 using the previous testing system we see:
Notice any differences? In ELA (English Language Arts) scores DROPPED by ~20 points going to the SBAc. Why? It’s a test that is so poorly worded it’s actually hard for an adult to read much less a student. It’s also “adaptive” which means it changes depending on your answers. That would be all well and good…IF…it made any difference…which it doesn’t.
On the left is the Math report.
The entire system was pitched as providing results before school was out so that parent/teacher conferences could be done before school was out so the child could work over the summer to improve and so that entering into school in the Fall a plan would be in place to help them in areas they were deficient.
Reality? The test results are not released to parents October 24th 2016. School started the first of September. So school had been going for nearly 2 months before parents got any information.
Reality? Teachers don’t use the test results data. The district may claim they do but the reality is that the teacher this year is not the same as last year. Teachers are so overwhelmed with trying to stay on top of all the demands the test results play little or no role.
So why do the testing? Because the adults (District & OSPI & Legislature) want to have numbers to use to justify their actions. it’s also great to be able to compare states that use the SBAC…oh wait…the number of states using the SBAc is dropping. There’s also the PARCC (the sister test) is only used in a few states now because it’s a disaster as well.
How much time does this take? That’s the rub. The testing starts in March/April depending on the district. It’s all done on computer so kids not comfortable with computers may be challenged. The teachers spend hours and hours “preparing” the students for the test because there is pressure to score well. The time spent “practicing” is lost teaching time. Oh wait…the testing occurs 2-3 months BEFORE the end of school so the actual learning time for the school year is September – March(ish) minus holidays. Roughly 6 months on the calendar of a 9 month school year. They can’t even finish the curriculum for the year before testing!
How well would you do on the test?
This link takes you to practice tests. You choose the grade and then take example tests. Try starting with 3rd grade and then try 7th and finish with 10th grade. After you do that stop back by and share your scores and impressions.
If you think this has gone too far contact your elected representatives and tell them to STOP!