One of the most exciting new developments in performance assessment is the new edTPA. This test for new teachers was developed at Stanford University by a group of educators who have lots of experience in making tests into performance assessments—where … Continued
A major conference at Teachers College on December 9th will seek to defuse the ideologically hyper-charged current national debate over educational testing by exploring the historical roots of educational achievement testing as well as scenarios for its future. The conference will … Continued
Fred Smith, retired analyst, has testified about the Common Core steamroller that is over-running New York State parents and students. In his testimony in front of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education on 10/29/13 he documents with graphs that “raise questions about the scales being used to weigh student achievement and the veracity of the [NYState] ELA and Math results.”
In 1945, UNESCO was founded as The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This group of intellectuals deals with many of the cultural parts of aid to countries around the world. I have made reference to the Education For All (EFA) movement on other parts of this website as something we should all be aware of, and something that maybe some of us would like to get involved with. Could this be you? Read on:
The education reform I envision is based on more accurate assessment of student learning. We have to look at the evidence for student failure under previous reforms, including the current standards/accountability reforms that ask for ever more intense standardized testing. The reforms of the last twenty years depend on the use of standardized testing to hold states, schools, teachers and children accountable. On the surface of this reform, standardized testing sounds like the most efficient way to measure student learning and hold the system accountable for its effectiveness. But instead of accountability, it has produced failure. More students are failing. More teachers feel like failures. More schools are failing larger numbers of students.
Between 2008 and 2010, I worked as a consultant for the Theatre Communications Group. Their efforts, called “Building A National TEAM: Theatre Education Assessment Models” supported new types of assessments, consolidated into four models, in order to build the assessment capacity of education departments in American theaters.
In my work for the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), I have argued in a briefing paper (The Rise of Standards and the Need for Assessment Models in the Arts; A Briefing paper written for TCG’s TEAM meeting on May 9-10, 2006), that when standards are involved, the need for better assessments is paramount. In fact the quality of standards depends on the accountability provided by assessments. In this particular paper, I wrote that, in 1994, the second discipline to join the standards movement after Math was the Arts. The Consortium of National Arts Education Associations realized that:
There are few education systems around the world that are fine examples of the new way we want to reform the American Education system. The argument against using these examples being used in America is that they work with homogeneous populations and we work with heterogeneous populations. Although diversity of students is something to embrace here in America, it wouldn’t hurt us one bit to look for a more unified system of education based on trust, support and development instead of distrust and administrative control…
When parents and educators talk about their children/students, there is a commonly held understanding of the type of smarts they are talking about that loosely combines brain power with demonstration of brain power in school. For example, “Susan is so smart because she reads the assignment and then writes a great summary of the passage.”
However, when you ask teachers and parents for a more precise definition, the conversation breaks down, as the description of brain power and the description of demonstration of that brain power become particular to their conversations. For educators this break down in commonly understood definitions of smart students is observable but harder to measure in classrooms. Educators need a more nuanced, cause and effect definition that includes “students demonstrating their smarts.” Researchers need even a more nuanced, and really a more valid and reliable way to collect “evidence of student learning.”
Asking for Better Evidence of Student Learning
The theme that continues to come up across world education conferences is the need for more accurate ways to assess student skills. There are skills that current tests measure reasonably well and yet and there are emerging skills and knowledge that are not being well measured. New Common Core curricula will demand more precise assessments that ask for better evidence of student learning.
Common Core Reform
The Common Core Reform is this era’s major, country-wide, K-12 school reform effort. It has been underway for some number of years and is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA). It represents another installment of a standards-based education reform. These standards-based reforms started in the 1990’s as the Accountability Movement and have been codified in legislation through the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.