California plans to roll out computerized testing in 2015. Image from Flickr

California appears poised to move ahead with plans to roll out computerized testing aligned to Common Core standards in 2015. Image from Flickr

Georgia last week became the fifth state to pull out of the nationwide efforts to create the same tests for the new Common Core standards. Indiana is in the process of withdrawing, Florida lawmakers have serious misgivings, notwithstanding full support of former Gov. Jeb Bush, and other states are indicating they may go their own way over concerns of cost and curricular independence.

California is not one of the doubters. The Legislature appears poised to pass legislation this month reaffirming the start of student testing aligned to the Common Core standards in spring 2015. The inclusion of $1.25 billion in the state budget for districts to prepare for the new standards has added momentum for moving ahead.

California is the largest and most critical state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two state collaboratives preparing assessments in Common Core standards in math and English language arts under a $360 million federal grant. So far, with the exception of Utah, which pulled out earlier this year, Smarter Balanced has remained intact with 22 governing states, although there are rumblings in Michigan, the consortium’s second largest state. Its legislature has voted to ban spending money on the tests, although it may reconsider that decision this fall. Otherwise, the withdrawals have been from the other consortium, PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is now down to 19 member states and the District of Columbia from 26 originally. Indiana and heavyweight Florida belong to PARCC, too. Pennsylvania also has pulled out of both consortia, where it had a lesser status as an advisory partner.

The idea behind the two consortia was to create common tests among states so that student scores could be compared. Under the No Child Left Behind law, each state created its own standards, tests and definitions of proficiency, making comparisons difficult. States also had a perverse incentive to lower standards and establish low bars for proficiency in order to escape NCLB’s sanctions.

Last week, Education Week reported that nearly all of the key education officials in 40 states responding to a survey said they saw little likelihood that the Common Core standards in their states would be “reversed, limited or changed in some way” in the coming school year. The assessments, however, appear more vulnerable.

All of the withdrawals from PARCC so far have been in states with Republican-controlled legislatures with active Tea Party movements. In criticizing the Obama administration’s push for Common Core, conservatives and some anti-testing teacher allies have focused on the funding of the assessment consortia as evidence of federal intrusion in states’ authority to determine what it is taught and tested in the classroom. Opponents also have objected to projected costs of the assessments: between $22.50 and $27.30 per student for Smarter Balanced and $29.95 per student for PARCC. Many states, including California, are paying a lot less now for paper-and-pencil multiple-choice tests; some states plan to hire their own vendors from among the big testing companies waiting in the wings, like ACT and Pearson, to create cheaper versions of the consortiums’ tests. The cost of the tests, California’s first designed to be taken by computer, does not include the hardware and bandwidth required to meet Smarter Balanced’s requirements; those are districts’ responsibility.

Pay more to get more

California’s leaders behind the Common Core have been straightforward that the state will pay more – and should – for better-quality tests. “We have always said that assessments should model high-quality teaching and learning that will take place under Common Core. To do so, you need different kinds of test items, other than multiple choice, that will be more expensive,” said Deputy State Superintendent Deb Sigman.

Deputy Superintendent for Public Instruction Deb Sigman speaks at the EdSource Symposium on May 4, 2013. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

Deputy Superintendent Deb Sigman

The state is now paying about $13 per student or $42 million for the current California Standards Tests that will be replaced by Smarter Balanced tests (English language arts and math for grades 3 through 8 and grade 11). The state is likely to spend at least double that amount; some argue it will pay more.

The basic $22.50 Smarter Balanced charge is for the end-of-the-year tests; for an additional $5 per student, California would get “formative tools,” such as lesson plans and other aids for teachers, and interim tests. Sigman, the top state official working on the switch to Smarter Balanced, is recommending that the state buy the bigger package to take full advantage of classroom tools. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who is sponsoring AB 484, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s bill on assessments, said Tuesday that she would propose an amendment requiring that the state buy the additional products. 

Smarter Balanced’s price does not include the $3 or $4 extra per student for giving tests with paper and pencil – an option that the consortium allows for the first three years for those districts without enough computers or Internet capacity. Too few districts responded to the initial California survey on technology capability, but it’s safe to predict a significant portion of districts will go with paper the first year.

Then there is the biggest variable: the cost to score the complex questions on the exam that can’t be graded by computer – those requiring students to show their work in math, write essays or brief answers, and perform multi-step problems. It’s these questions, making up about 30 percent of the test, that distinguish the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests from pure multiple-choice assessments. Sigman and supporters assert these test items will help shape how teachers incorporate the Common Core standards in the classroom.

Sigman said Smarter Balanced’s basic price accounts for some human scoring. But it primarily will be the states’ responsibility, through a vendor. Sigman favors using California teachers to score the questions that can’t be done by machine; doing so would help teachers understand how students are learning. But that potentially expensive option, which would have to be negotiated with teachers, is one reason that Doug McRae, a retired executive in the testing field, projects the final cost of Smarter Balanced tests at close to $40 per student – triple what California is paying now.

Arguments for delaying the tests

Bill Lucia, president of EdVoice, said the CTC did a "great job".  (Source:  CTC meeting).  Click to enlarge.

Bill Lucia, president of EdVoice

McRae and Bill Lucia, the chief executive of the Sacramento-based advocacy group EdVoice and a former executive director of the State Board of Education, have become the chief skeptics of Smarter Balanced, arguing before the State Board and legislative hearings that the state is rushing unwisely to roll out the new tests in spring 2015. With AB 484, Torlakson is proposing to suspend nearly all state tests that are not mandated by Congress under No Child Left Behind and to use the savings to start developing new high school math tests aligned with Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards that the State Board is expected to adopt this fall. Lucia argues it’s bad policy to create a hiatus from high school end-of-course exams and language tests for English learners and to stop state testing of second graders. The state and districts rely on the results of those tests for accountability purposes.

McRae argues that launching the new tests in 2015 will undermine the credibility of the results. Many teachers will not have been trained sufficiently in the new standards and won’t yet have materials and textbooks – even after spending their share of the $1.25 billion in the state budget, about $200 per student, for Common Core. The state’s curriculum frameworks in math, extensive guidelines for teaching the standards, won’t be approved by the State Board until November, and the English language arts frameworks won’t be adopted until 2014, just one year before the tests. Many students won’t be adept in taking computer-based tests, skewing their scores, and many districts won’t have the computing capacity to offer them, McRae said.

Both McRae and Lucia predict that, based on the results of the nationwide pilot tests last spring, Smarter Balanced won’t be able to deliver a sophisticated computer-adaptive test on time. Computer-adaptive assessments individualize test questions to match students’ ability, based on answers to previous questions. They require an extensive bank of items, which McRae says won’t be ready in time. Sigman says Smarter Balanced remains on track, and McRae is wrong.

California critical to Smarter Balanced

Sigman is the point person for Smarter Balanced in California. She co-chairs Smarter Balanced’s nine-person Executive Committee, which includes Beverly Young, the assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for the California State University System. Other states in PARCC and Smarter Balanced can make the case that they are relinquishing state autonomy to a consortium that will decide what appears on the tests and will define levels of proficiency. But California, with 3.2 million test-eligible students, clearly has clout with Smarter Balanced; its success depends on California’s participation. And California, in turn, is deeply invested in Smarter Balanced’s stability. The ties will become closer after 2014, when the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at UCLA takes over as the administrator for Smarter Balanced, once federal funding runs out. The consortium would take a big financial hit if California were to push back testing the Common Core standards for a year or longer, as McRae proposes.

Sigman insists that her recommendations are based first and foremost on what’s good for California, not the consortium. By spring 2015, It will have been nearly five years since the State Board adopted the Common Core standards. Districts are moving ahead with added resources in implementing the standards.

SB 247, an alternative to Bonilla’s bill, authored by Senate Education Committee Chair Carol Liu, D-Glendale, originally called for delaying launching Common Core tests for two years, but that provision has been stripped, and legislative staff members say they’re not seeing a significant push for a later start.

Bonilla, a former teacher, agrees.

“I believe districts can move quickly ahead once money for professional development gets out there. You shouldn’t hold back districts that are ready for Common Core. If we need to accommodate districts that are not ready (through paper-and-pencil tests), we can meet their needs,” she said. “A delay by the state is not the answer.”


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  1. Julie 3 years ago3 years ago

    Common Core is a scam. We don’t want it in CA.

  2. Stephen Krashen 3 years ago3 years ago

    "some anti-testing teacher allies"? You talkin' about me? I don't know anyone who is anti-testing. What we are against is excessive and inappropriate testing. The organization "Fairtest" is not named "Notest." Please see e.g. Krashen, S. How much testing? July 25, 2012
Posted on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/25/stephen- krashen-how-much-testing/
Posted on The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/ Krashen, S. 2008. A Fundamental Principle: No Unnecessary Testing (NUT)
. Available at: http://www.sdkrashen.com/index.php?cat=4 Krashen, S. and Ohanian, S. 2011. High Tech Testing … Read More

    “some anti-testing teacher allies”?
    You talkin’ about me?

    I don’t know anyone who is anti-testing. What we are against is excessive and inappropriate testing. The organization “Fairtest” is not named “Notest.”

    Please see e.g.
    Krashen, S. How much testing? July 25, 2012
Posted on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/25/stephen- krashen-how-much-testing/
Posted on The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/
    Krashen, S. 2008. A Fundamental Principle: No Unnecessary Testing (NUT)
. Available at: http://www.sdkrashen.com/index.php?cat=4
    Krashen, S. and Ohanian, S. 2011. High Tech Testing on the Way: a 21st Century Boondoggle? http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in- dialogue/2011/04/high_tech_testing_on_the_way_a.html

  3. Manuel 3 years ago3 years ago

    Death to testing!! Death to testing!!

    Vox Populi, Vox Dei?

    🙂

    Replies

    • navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

      ..quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.

      😉

      • Manuel 3 years ago3 years ago

        Shh! You are not supposed to quote the rest!! (but at least you did not cite the beginning!)

        (Back in the good ol’ days of USEnet, this fellow had this Carlin quote in his sig file: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”)

  4. stan johnson 3 years ago3 years ago

    boon·dog·gle [boon-dog-uhl, -daw-guhl] Show IPA noun, verb, boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling. noun 1. a product of simple manual skill, as a plaited leather cord for the neck or a knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout. 2. work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy. 3. a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation. verb (used with object) 4. to deceive or attempt to deceive: … Read More

    boon·dog·gle
    [boon-dog-uhl, -daw-guhl] Show IPA noun, verb, boon·dog·gled, boon·dog·gling.
    noun
    1.
    a product of simple manual skill, as a plaited leather cord for the neck or a knife sheath, made typically by a camper or a scout.
    2.
    work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
    3.
    a project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.
    verb (used with object)
    4.
    to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors into a low-interest scheme.
    verb (used without object)
    5.
    to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
    Origin:
    1930–35, Americanism; said to have been coined by R. H. Link, American scoutmaster, as name for def 1

  5. steve 3 years ago3 years ago

    After crying broke for the past 6 years, and then CTA working to pass prop. 30 saving the California school system. Suddenly there's money, 252 million dollars, to spend on new tests that have not been proven. They can't properly grade the writing test now and pay college students, without credentials 15.00 hr to assess credentialed teachers. Teachers have not received a cost of living adjustment for many years, while it costs over 100 … Read More

    After crying broke for the past 6 years, and then CTA working to pass prop. 30 saving the California school system. Suddenly there’s money, 252 million dollars, to spend on new tests that have not been proven. They can’t properly grade the writing test now and pay college students, without credentials 15.00 hr to assess credentialed teachers.

    Teachers have not received a cost of living adjustment for many years, while it costs over 100 dollars to get three bags of groceries.

    This is a case if overpaid administrators designing a program that will provide them with overpaid jobs, for many years. They’re redesigning something that already exists without concern for the rights of students and teachers. They’ll say their concerned, but their actions only promote self interest. They’ll say they need to move the students up “Bloom’s Taxonomy,” without even knowing what it is. By the way, Bloom’s Taxonomy has been around since the 1950’s and there has been little success moving children up the taxonomy for over the past 60 years. Many are not developmentally ready for it. Many adults are and will never be there. A quick look at the nightly news will prove that to you. Clearly, administrators are out of touch when it come to knowing what happens in a classroom. It’s more than stopping by a school for a photo opportunity and then returning to their private office.

    No wonder only 22 out of 50 states are now doing this.

    If you really want to help teachers get rid of about help of the administrators in the State of California. They are wasting our time and money. Give teachers a livable, contempoary salary, and spilt the money that is going to be wasted by these administrators on their salary and the creation of another failure, like No Child Left Behind.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 3 years ago3 years ago

      Steve: Not sure where you got $252 million for the Smarter Balanced Tests. At the outside range, it would probably be more like $100 million. We’ll spend about $50 billion in state money this year on K-12 education.

      • Doug McRae 3 years ago3 years ago

        Steve/John: Also not sure where Steve got $252 million for Smarter Balanced tests. My estimate was $39/student [taken from the Assessment Solutions Group estimates for consortia tests before discounts that do not apply to California] x 3.2 million students, for $125 million for core grade 3-8 & 11 tests, plus 50 % more for non-core tests [science, history/social science, primary language, HS end-of-course] for something in the $175-200 million range annually. I guess that's … Read More

        Steve/John: Also not sure where Steve got $252 million for Smarter Balanced tests. My estimate was $39/student [taken from the Assessment Solutions Group estimates for consortia tests before discounts that do not apply to California] x 3.2 million students, for $125 million for core grade 3-8 & 11 tests, plus 50 % more for non-core tests [science, history/social science, primary language, HS end-of-course] for something in the $175-200 million range annually. I guess that’s halfway between John’s $100 million outside range and Steve’s $252 million.

        • el 3 years ago3 years ago

          Of course, those costs are just the costs of the assessment, not the district infrastructure costs like IT staff time, bandwidth upgrades, and additional computer hardware required to administer the tests, nor larger infrastructure costs like preparing rooms that are adequate to house and power that infrastructure.

  6. Chris Miraglia 3 years ago3 years ago

    What worries me about the proposed package deal that includes formative tests and lesson plans is that this flies in the face of teacher creativity and is assuming that whoever develops these assessments knows what is best for students. A whole generation of students has been subjected to the testing environment that derived from NCLB, so lets give them more. As an educator, I strongly believe that the best type of formative assessments are … Read More

    What worries me about the proposed package deal that includes formative tests and lesson plans is that this flies in the face of teacher creativity and is assuming that whoever develops these assessments knows what is best for students. A whole generation of students has been subjected to the testing environment that derived from NCLB, so lets give them more. As an educator, I strongly believe that the best type of formative assessments are those developed teachers who know their students. It should be noted that a whole generation of teachers know very little about not teaching to the test or being told that they must be on a certain page on certain day. The move to the Common Core is a paradigm shift and requires time to adapt.

    If the state would put money into comprehensive staff development for teachers in the area of Common Core, not staff development from all of the various companies who profess to be experts on the Common Core and our benefiting handsomely, both teachers and students would benefit greatly. It seems the push for Common Core is predicated on the implementation of the SBAC. Thus we fall in the same trap of NCLB, focusing on the test. A test is a single measure of student achievement and many times a highly ineffective measure at that and should not be given priority of the development of sound instruction.

    Replies

    • Doug McRae 3 years ago3 years ago

      As a test maker, Chris, I absolutely agree with you. Instruction should come first, and it should be determined primarily by the teacher in charge of instruction, with guidance from the building and district leaders, following Gov Brown's principle of subsidiarity. Instruction based on assessment consortia instructional components like interim tests and formative practices will inevitably narrow instruction to what is likely to be on the test, a form of "teaching to the test." For … Read More

      As a test maker, Chris, I absolutely agree with you. Instruction should come first, and it should be determined primarily by the teacher in charge of instruction, with guidance from the building and district leaders, following Gov Brown’s principle of subsidiarity. Instruction based on assessment consortia instructional components like interim tests and formative practices will inevitably narrow instruction to what is likely to be on the test, a form of “teaching to the test.” For CA’s application, the SBAC instructional components will serve as state sanctioned “teaching to the test” components, serving a role that directly conflicts with current CA statute regarding use of practice tests and other mechanisms to try to game the testing system.

      Good assessment system designs and good instructional system designs keep some distance between components designed to assist with delivery of instruction and components used to measure the results of instruction (i.e., the statewide tests). Building instructional components into a statewide assessment system results in too much focus on the test itself and degrades both good instructional systems and good assessment systems.

    • Bea 3 years ago3 years ago

      If EdSource had a "like" button, I'd use it for Chris' comment and Doug's reply. I recently had the opportunity to talk with a first grade teacher about the assessments she and her colleagues use to gauge student progress in Kinder through 3rd grade. They look at each child's strength and challenges, determine the best strategies to use, then assess regularly to measure each child's progress. This is all shared with the parents as well. She … Read More

      If EdSource had a “like” button, I’d use it for Chris’ comment and Doug’s reply.

      I recently had the opportunity to talk with a first grade teacher about the assessments she and her colleagues use to gauge student progress in Kinder through 3rd grade. They look at each child’s strength and challenges, determine the best strategies to use, then assess regularly to measure each child’s progress. This is all shared with the parents as well. She was talking about the great loss that comes at 3rd grade, when standardized testing replaces the teacher-designed, student-centered assessment. The goal shifts from measuring a supporting an individual child’s progress to obtaining data that seems to be designed for comparing schools and districts and, the newer agenda, evaluating teachers.

      I’m just a parent and not a policy expert, but given the billions of dollars and the hours of learning time devoted to the test industrial complex, it just feels like we’ve lost our way.

      Funny that Bill Luca weighed in here as this teacher had some specific things to say about the EdVoice led campaign to test 2nd graders. Do the parents and teachers know if a child is learning to read? Why, yes, they do! Do they need a state test for that? Why, no, they don’t.

  7. Paula Campbell 3 years ago3 years ago

    As a school board member (Nevada City School District), my concern during the transition to CCSS and a new assessment system is support for students in the classroom. I appreciate the interests of the state and other agencies regarding API, accountability, and comparing districts to one another but my first concern is having reliable information for the students, teachers, and families in our schools. If it is difficult to compare districts or compare … Read More

    As a school board member (Nevada City School District), my concern during the transition to CCSS and a new assessment system is support for students in the classroom. I appreciate the interests of the state and other agencies regarding API, accountability, and comparing districts to one another but my first concern is having reliable information for the students, teachers, and families in our schools. If it is difficult to compare districts or compare districts with their previous results, that needs to be worked out but first, what kind of data can the new assessments give schools and districts for their own use.

  8. Joshua Adams 3 years ago3 years ago

    I thought this all started with TIMMS and comparing how we are doing with Finland, Singapore, or Germany? Do any of you know how many tests are given to students in countries like Finland or Germany? I talked with some students and teachers from those countries and found out. Finish students do not take a single standardized test until 6th grade! I wonder how they evaluate their teachers? Germany limits the number of … Read More

    I thought this all started with TIMMS and comparing how we are doing with
    Finland, Singapore, or Germany? Do any of you know how many tests are given to students in countries like Finland or Germany? I talked with some students and teachers from those countries and found out. Finish students do not take a single standardized test until 6th grade! I wonder how they evaluate their teachers? Germany limits the number of tests each semester to three for high school students. These tests include classroom tests and any type of “standardized” test, so if a teacher gives three unit tests a semester, the maximum has been reached and no “standardized” test could be given. The students and teachers said most of their work is judged by their class participation, both oral and written. They also indicated they get graphing calculators issued with their math textbooks and are expected to use them when needed including during a Test. When are we going to start to do what these successful countries do for our students?
    Do you honestly think our educational problem is the curriculum and standards are not rigorous enough for our current students?Please go to your local school and talk with the teachers or read some of the students comments on facebook. If you live in an area of higher socioeconomic means, then your school is performing above average due to many factors such as parent support for learning and checking to see that their children are completing their homework or immediatley getting the help they need. Parents of students who attend “good” schools do not want endless tests that are meaningless to their childrens future and a huge waist of resources that should be used to improve the school learning environment by purchasing needed technology and up to date instructional materials. Maybe the new standards could be helpful, but teachers have a shorter, more limited amount of time to cover more curriculum than before due to earlier testing periods and more testing. Futhermore, how are students held accountable for doing their best on these tests? Is the test result used to help calculate the students grade or do they need a proficient score to earn a diploma or get accepted for college or … If the test has no student accountability component why would they even care about doing well. I would focus on preparing for my immediate class grade to improve my GPA and SAT exams or preparing for a big game or musical performance. I could use this test as a way of getting back at a teacher who is asking me to do more than I want to do because I have other interests. Are only math, science, and English teachers being judged by these tests or is there a test to judge a PE teacher or Art/Music teacher or Elective teachers? I wonder how long it will be before we find no one willing to interview for a math teaching position at a low performing school. I do not see how spending ALL this money on testing is changing anything except creating a National Curriculum and telling low performing schools that they continue to be low performing schools and they need to replace their teachers with better ones. It seems like I have been hearing this same argument for the past 50 years. Yes, I am a senior citizen who cares about real changes that will improve educational opportunities for the students who need an environment that is conducive to learning. Why are we spending money we do not have on schools that are already achieving and trying to have a one size fits all system because this is not why Americans create so many new things and come up with so many new ideas. If we are trying compete with Finland and Singapore, then we need to make serious structural systemic changes to our schools and do what they do or do not do in their schools. NO more football programs or other sports in our high schools and most electives would also have to be eliminated. I am a Finlander, but we live in a much different country in America and we have very different values. When the well-educated parents of public school children start to understand that a large part of schooling has changed from learning and developing critical thinking to preparing students to do well on a test that most people never have time to analyze and use as a resource to improve the educational experience for children, then they will either place their children in a school where real learning is the priority or they will get involved in changing our new system of schooling. I cannot call this system a system for learning because time and testing are not and should never be factors in a learning environment that promotes creativity and critical thinking (testing without student accountability). These two goals are what made America great and create jobs and they do not happen in a specific amount of time because each of us is unique and we do things at different rates. And futhermore, testing has never been shown to improve either of these factors. Critical thinking and creativity are factors that need to be encouraged and nurtured from Pre-K on. To flourish, they need a stress free environment so students can open up their thoughts and dream up new ideas. It seems ironic that many of the people who were allowed to be raised in this type of environment, open, creative, and stress free, are the same people who are now paying for and pushing for a more controlled and structured environment, but not for their own children? What about Bill Gates and Mark Zutterburg? Please read Pasi Salhberg’s new book explaining important differences between the two systems.
    Thank you for reading and pray for your grandchildren’s future.

  9. navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

    Is there a reference to this mention of single grade adaptivity?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 3 years ago3 years ago

      I’ll inquire, navigio.
      john

  10. Randy M 3 years ago3 years ago

    The entire matter is a load of horse hockey. You can hire a millions of teachers, enact a ton of legislation, spend a bazillion dollars, and do testing until the mountains erode. However, until students have a desire to learn, the entire matter is moot. I was taught how to learn and did just that. My brother (i.e. equal home environment) refused to learn as it impinged upon his training to be a professional punk, … Read More

    The entire matter is a load of horse hockey. You can hire a millions of teachers, enact a ton of legislation, spend a bazillion dollars, and do testing until the mountains erode. However, until students have a desire to learn, the entire matter is moot. I was taught how to learn and did just that. My brother (i.e. equal home environment) refused to learn as it impinged upon his training to be a professional punk, no account fool, drug user, and unemployable criminal. Todays have no particular incentive to learn anything because everything is handed to them on a silver charger. If the parents won’t provide it, the government will. If the government doesn’t provide something, they will simply steal it. It is always a waste of money when you are merely hurling it at high velocity and in huge volumes at the desired objective and hoping that it will stick. We became the greatest country on earth without this nonsense and are going backward while doing such. Someone needs to heap a dose of reality on this mess.

  11. Sonja Luchini 3 years ago3 years ago

    Families, teachers and educators have not been involved with forming any policy regarding the mislabeled Common Core State Standards (since it's dictated by the federal government). As the parent of a student with disabilities, I've still not had answers to the question regarding the Gates/Murdock owned iBloom "cloud" that will store personal/private student data that 3rd parties may access without our permission. An IEP is a legal document containing private, confidential information. How is … Read More

    Families, teachers and educators have not been involved with forming any policy regarding the mislabeled Common Core State Standards (since it’s dictated by the federal government).

    As the parent of a student with disabilities, I’ve still not had answers to the question regarding the Gates/Murdock owned iBloom “cloud” that will store personal/private student data that 3rd parties may access without our permission. An IEP is a legal document containing private, confidential information. How is that going to be protected? And how will moderate/severely disabled students take these online tests? Why do they have to? Why can’t we opt out? link here to another blog post about what happens when a student opts out: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/about/

    I wrote a comment to this story: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/07/teacher-review-this-is-how-common-core-works-in-my-classroom/comment-page-1/#comment-245781
    asking specifically: “How will common core account for the special needs child who is damaged like mine was? What pace would be considered acceptable for students who suffer clinical depression and shut down? And why can’t we opt out of the “online” testing requirements and have an alternative method for students with disabilites?”

    And I posted this comment on another blog:
    These questions and 65 more were asked by North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest in his letter to the NC Department of Public Instruction. We need to ask the same of Supt. Torlakson before proceeding:
    What is inBloom’s association with CCSS and what specific services do they provide?
    Have representatives from inBloom contacted the Department of Instruction? If so, please share all correspondence between inBloom and DPI.
    Here is the link to the rest of his letter: http://www.susanohanian.org/core.php?id=530

    We need to ask why so many corporations and businesses were involved with CCSS instead of academics and educational child development experts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvUMk1ro27E

    Do families realize the datamining of their children’s (and their) private information using iBloom (owned and operated as a private corp by Gates and Murdoch that will allow 3rd party access)? http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/federal-district-court-tries-u-s-dept-of-ed-today-for-destruction-of-family-privacyconsent/

    Will the children (now attending private schools) of Bill Gates, the Waltons, the Broads, the Kochs and our elected officials be subjected to CCSS in their small classrooms (that are considered “underutilized” in regular public schools for vulture take-over by corps -see Chicago)? http://reclaimreform.com/2013/07/26/but-not-for-his-own-kids/

    Why isn’t there a pilot program test on the children of the business folks trying to push this down our throats?

    Way more questions about CCSS than we have answers. The information being spoon-fed to families so far has been “scripted” and “approved” by various school districts before presentation. We’re not getting the real story as to why this must be done. Especially when there is so little funding available for basics at this time.

    Who will set up, pay for maintenance and upgrading of computers and wifi network support that’s needed for the online testing? Why can’t we use funds to hire back the laid-off teachers, nurses and classroom aides? Instead of co-locating charters in public schools, why can’t the public schools have smaller class sizes which is a proven, effective means of educating?

    What is the REAL agenda behind CCSS and why doesn’t the public have all the information?

    Those are the questions that should be asked…”

    Between this and the announcement that Walton will be foisting 700 TFA (Teach for Awhile) students on our vulnerable children – it appears that CA is trying its darnedest to destroy public education.
    link here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0731-teachers-grant-20130731,0,6222450.story

    Our politicians are beholdin’ to the highest bidder these days. Our urban poor children, our students with disabilites can’t compete and will be crushed under CCSS.

    This is a bad idea that did not allow stakeholders a place at the table, because it never was about the kids.

  12. Ernie Silva 3 years ago3 years ago

    Single grade “adaptivity” mentioned by Bill and John will have significant harm for high schools that serve to reengage dropouts. Such students typically are 3-5 years below grade level when they reenter. All of the Department’s good work preparing for the Common Core is wasted if we ignore the students and teachers who most need out of grade adaptivity results.

  13. Eric Premack 3 years ago3 years ago

    John: You could do a great service if you could get to the bottom of these issues. Specifically: 1) Will Smarter-Balanced (SB) provide "providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum" as promised? Some assert that the adaptivity may be severely constrained to within a single grade span or so--if true this would severely undermine the test's value. 2) Will the computer adaptive nature of SB be … Read More

    John:

    You could do a great service if you could get to the bottom of these issues. Specifically:

    1) Will Smarter-Balanced (SB) provide “providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum” as promised? Some assert that the adaptivity may be severely constrained to within a single grade span or so–if true this would severely undermine the test’s value.

    2) Will the computer adaptive nature of SB be more efficient than our current tests and reduce time spent on testing?

    3) Will SB have enough test questions/items in its item banks? If I understood him correctly, McRae asserts that 10,000 items are needed bu that only 2,500 or so may be available? Is this correct?

    3) Will SB include a broad range of selected response, constructed response, and tech-enhanced items? If so, will the number and range be sufficient to draw meaningful conclusions or inferences about achievement and growth at the individual student level?

    4) How much will SB cost to administer? IMHO, the $40 figure cited by McRae would seem much more reasonable if SB delivers as many believe it has promised. But if there are problems with the above issues, the picture changes a lot.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 3 years ago3 years ago

      Good questions, Eric. All deserve answers (and also should be asked by the State Board and legislators in public hearings). To which we can add another question that Doug McRae has asked: Can you compare scores from pen and paper tests, which many students in CA will take initially, with scores from computer-adaptive tests? Doug says this has not been done before. I was unaware before Bill Lucia raised the issue that the computer-adaptive questions will … Read More

      Good questions, Eric. All deserve answers (and also should be asked by the State Board and legislators in public hearings). To which we can add another question that Doug McRae has asked: Can you compare scores from pen and paper tests, which many students in CA will take initially, with scores from computer-adaptive tests? Doug says this has not been done before.

      I was unaware before Bill Lucia raised the issue that the computer-adaptive questions will be confined to one grade. I and, I assume others, were led to believe that one could determine whether a fifth grader was at a third-grade level in math. It’s unclear whether that is possible with the limited range of a computer-adaptive test.

      • Doug McRae 3 years ago3 years ago

        John, Thanx for mentioning the concern re comparability of scores from the proposed SBAC computer-adaptive tests and the paper-and-pencil alternate tests SBAC indicates they will have. Without strong documented equivalency cross-walks between these two versions of tests, CA will not be able to aggregate statewide assessment data for the state as a whole or for significant subgroups of students -- these data aggregations require standardized census scores, and without equivalency cross-walks we'd have apples and … Read More

        John, Thanx for mentioning the concern re comparability of scores from the proposed SBAC computer-adaptive tests and the paper-and-pencil alternate tests SBAC indicates they will have. Without strong documented equivalency cross-walks between these two versions of tests, CA will not be able to aggregate statewide assessment data for the state as a whole or for significant subgroups of students — these data aggregations require standardized census scores, and without equivalency cross-walks we’d have apples and oranges that cannot be aggregated from 2015 through 2017. Without standardized census scores, we also cannot calculate APIs. Some folks advocate for a moratorium on high stakes use of new Common Core testing results upwards of three years; this could happen not via legislative or State Board policy direction, but rather simply via a “backdoor moratorium” due to new statewide assessment scores not being capable of contributing to statewide aggregate data or continuation of API calculations. Finally, if 484 mandates participation in the SBAC “field” test in 2014 for 20 percent of the students, as it currently reads, and CA applies for the “no double testing” waiver that Duncan has announced for spring 2014, the result would be 20 percent taking the field test version of SBAC and 80 percent taking the old STAR tests, and with no comparability between these two sets of tests CA would not have either statewide or subgroup aggregate data for 2014, nor the ability to produce APIs in 2014. Clearly, plans are needed to produce equivalency cross-walk data between the old STAR tests and any new Common Core tests, as well as between p/p versions of tests and computerized versions of test, for continuity of statewide aggregate data and for continuity of APIs. AB 484 does not address these technical nitty gritty issues, and to date neither SBAC nor the CDE has addressed these issues either. [Note: Comparability of scores between p/p tests and computer-based fixed form tests has been done relatively routinely for the past 5-10 years in other states, but when tests introduce computer-enhanced items that cannot be done on p/p versions and/or do computer-adaptive tests without standard sets of items administered to all kids, we have major complications generating defendable comparability of scores.]

  14. Manuel 3 years ago3 years ago

    Someone please correct me if I am wrong: the current testing regime we have is because of the Public School Accountability Act of 1999 which is to sunset in 2014 (no, I am not going to check, I'm working from memory here!). Along came NCLB and California said, hey, we already got our testing and it meets NCLB so we don't need to come up with a new testing setup. ETS is Da Bomb! It's 2013, and … Read More

    Someone please correct me if I am wrong: the current testing regime we have is because of the Public School Accountability Act of 1999 which is to sunset in 2014 (no, I am not going to check, I’m working from memory here!).

    Along came NCLB and California said, hey, we already got our testing and it meets NCLB so we don’t need to come up with a new testing setup. ETS is Da Bomb!

    It’s 2013, and NCLB is still the “law of the land” even though it has not been formally reauthorized. But its conditions won’t be met in 2014 (“100% proficient”) anyway.

    Has PSAA done its job? I’d say it hasn’t based on available data. So why do we want to change a testing regime that hasn’t worked for another one that is “not ready for prime time?”

    Who are we serving here? The kids? The adults? The testing industry?

    It seems to me as a taxpayer that we are spending money to appease political and economic aims without improving education. We seem to think that testing is going to automagically improve education and increase the number of students in the college pipeline.

    That’s clearly not happening. So why do we continue to jump off the cliff?

    If navigio’s EAP numbers are correct (and I don’t doubt they are), then how in the world would we even find “qualified” people to be teachers when the “standards” are being increased? (Yes, go look at that other long set of comments for a taste of what’s to come down the pike.)

    I’d say follow the money and then turn off the spigot. I’m with navigio on this one: stop testing for a couple of years and see if the world comes to an end.

    OK, it will put a lot of people out of a job, so maybe that’s what this is all about: The Full Employment for Psychometricians and Edubureaucrats Act of 2014.

  15. navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

    Btw, I noticed one of the Super's recommendations was to "Use the grade eleven SBAC ELA and mathematics assessments as an indicator of college readiness." (I expect as a replacement for CAHSEE) The other day I was looking at the EAP results for our state and noticed that, using that metric, only about 20% of our students demonstrated (unconditional) ELA 'readiness' for college, and about 12% did for math. I have heard that the eleventh grade … Read More

    Btw, I noticed one of the Super’s recommendations was to “Use the grade eleven SBAC ELA and mathematics assessments as an indicator of college readiness.” (I expect as a replacement for CAHSEE)

    The other day I was looking at the EAP results for our state and noticed that, using that metric, only about 20% of our students demonstrated (unconditional) ELA ‘readiness’ for college, and about 12% did for math. I have heard that the eleventh grade SBAC results are likely to plunge when compared to current assessments (even heard they will contributed to increased dropout rates).

    So a couple questions:
    – Why do we never talk about EAP? Is it not meaningful?
    – Would the Super’s recommendation make SBAC passage a condition for a high school diploma?
    – What will we do if our college readiness rates drop to single digits?

  16. navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

    Follow the money is right. Too bad. My suggestion: no tests (at all) for at least two years (virtually all our title 1 schools will be PI by then anyway). This would allow us to cut 2 weeks off the school year without impacting 'educational time' at all, or add two weeks of educational time that would have otherwise been spent on testing. In either case, we'll save some money AND help the kids. But maybe … Read More

    Follow the money is right. Too bad.

    My suggestion: no tests (at all) for at least two years (virtually all our title 1 schools will be PI by then anyway). This would allow us to cut 2 weeks off the school year without impacting ‘educational time’ at all, or add two weeks of educational time that would have otherwise been spent on testing. In either case, we’ll save some money AND help the kids. But maybe thats bad for the economy? Whoopsie, forgot about our priorities..

  17. patrickcarlin 3 years ago3 years ago

    “Show me the money” (federal funding) has become California’s Education model. Never mind that it is producing “Brave New Schools”. Wake up and smell what is going on here! Please!

  18. Garrison 3 years ago3 years ago

    California would be wise to inoculate itself from the implosion of the consortium. If Sigman was truly putting California's students' interests ahead of Smarter Balanced and PARCC, she would be advocating for realistic timelines and implementation that reflect the actual human and financial resources available to our districts. And there would be some language in there about what is best for kids and their, well, LEARNING. As a parent, I see a huge issue with conflating … Read More

    California would be wise to inoculate itself from the implosion of the consortium. If Sigman was truly putting California’s students’ interests ahead of Smarter Balanced and PARCC, she would be advocating for realistic timelines and implementation that reflect the actual human and financial resources available to our districts. And there would be some language in there about what is best for kids and their, well, LEARNING.

    As a parent, I see a huge issue with conflating shifting to a new curriculum like Common Core and the subsequent assessments. How does it make sense to begin blanket testing across the state when the kids being tested will have had wildly diverging exposure to the content being tested? Of course the issues with the testing would be less pressing if the stakes attached weren’t so high. Perhaps that’s the lesson here.

  19. Bill Lucia 3 years ago3 years ago

    The description of EdVoice concerns and status or recommended delay is odd and inacurate. EdVoice is not recommending delay of a program that would actually deliver as promised but this is currently "spend more get less" over the next several years. EdVoice recommends paying for what's promised and not to suspend all testing when the new program is not ready, and simply truth telling that the new test is oversold: the strongest educator … Read More

    The description of EdVoice concerns and status or recommended delay is odd and inacurate. EdVoice is not recommending delay of a program that would actually deliver as promised but this is currently “spend more get less” over the next several years. EdVoice recommends paying for what’s promised and not to suspend all testing when the new program is not ready, and simply truth telling that the new test is oversold: the strongest educator friendly and student helpful parts of the test–out of grade adaptivity and formative item banks– are not on the drawing board and not being proposed to be funded, while suspending all current testing creates huge holes for districts to have to backfill on their own dime. This is especially troublesome as districts set subgroup benchmarks in new LCAP requirements under LCFF. This also failed to mention the serious concerns about failure to provide continuity in constitutionally required assessments of special needs students and resulting disruption in IEPs.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

      The potential problems with SBAC are worthy of consideration; however, let's not pretend our current set of assessments are so great it's worthy of falling on our pedagogic swords to defend either. As the National Research Council (NRC) has stated in its report, "Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education:" The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways." Someone may want … Read More

      The potential problems with SBAC are worthy of consideration; however, let’s not pretend our current set of assessments are so great it’s worthy of falling on our pedagogic swords to defend either.

      As the National Research Council (NRC) has stated in its report, “Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education:” The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways.”

      Someone may want to argue the current CSTs fall outside the category of “typical.” I don’t know of anyone who’s used them in the classroom who might do that. Smarter Balanced is supposed to be better, according to the advertising.

      Of course, what’s really worth of consideration is the final conclusions of the NRC that the “system'” of incentives and test-based accountability, put in place after A Nation at Risk and accelerated by NCLB, has been largely unproductive.

  20. Kate 3 years ago3 years ago

    California does not have the money or the technology to give these tests that are supposedly "better" because they are only 70% multiple choice. Many districts are dealing with class sizes of over 30 in all grades and a lack of resources due to budget cuts. California is 49th in the nation in class size and 47th in per pupil spending. How can the districts possibly spend three times the amount for testing they are … Read More

    California does not have the money or the technology to give these tests that are supposedly “better” because they are only 70% multiple choice. Many districts are dealing with class sizes of over 30 in all grades and a lack of resources due to budget cuts. California is 49th in the nation in class size and 47th in per pupil spending. How can the districts possibly spend three times the amount for testing they are currently spending? Also, adopting new science science standards that received a C when we currently have an A for our California science standards is shameful. Follow the $$$$.

  21. Paul Muench 3 years ago3 years ago

    I don’t remember the arguments for Common Core being paying more to get more. I remember arguments for saving money by sharing development and maintenance costs with other states. What happened to that focus?

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