Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NWEA: Teachers Think Testing Sucks Slightly Less

Northwest Evaluation Association just released some poll-based research about testing. It's not exactly a shocker, but get ready to watch its results get spun like marbles in a blender.

NWEA is a testing form that has been around since the pre-computer days, so they are not your typical CCSS cash-in operation, but they have picked up the language quickly, perhaps from some of their corporate partners including Edmentum, Achieve3000, Silverback and Triumphlearning. In some parts of the country, you know them as the MAP folks.

The new research covers attitudes about testing. On the only slightly surprising front, we have the news that fewer teachers think too much time is spent on testing than in 2011, though the majority still believe that too much time is being spent on testing.

Look for this to be spun as a trend. EdWeek went with the mostly-misleading headline "Survey: More Educators Think 'Just the Right Amount' of Time Is Spent on Testing." 

The online survey also turned up some responses from students regarding the purpose and value of testing, and this next chart is interesting because it shows that students know the difference between the classroom teacher's tests and the High Stakes Standardized Tests.

Note that for students, state tests only really serve the intent of evaluating student levels and evaluating teachers, schools, and administrators. For all other purposes, they are at best redundant and at most unnecessary, because classroom tests have it covered.

And given the framing of the question, this isn't even about the actual utility of the tests, but instead addresses the student perception of why the test is given. In other words, despite years of sales pitches, most students don't believe that states are administering these tests to help them with their education. Or, to frame it another way, students uniformly trust their classroom teacher more than the state to be giving tests that serve a useful educational intent.

Or more simply, even students understand that state standardized tests serve no educational purpose.

Teachers and administrators have different perceptions and levels of understanding about the role of assessment in their work, and students demonstrate a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of assessment than their teachers believe.

Ya think? NWEA has five recommendations based on the study results.

1) Administrators, educators and policymakers need to engage with students when they're designing this stuff, especially when making test mandates at--wait?! What!! Engage with students??!! That's crazy talk!

2) Realign assessment priorities in support of teaching and learning. In less fancy words, stop designing tests around all this other baloney and create tests that actually help with education. One and two taken together translate as, "Design and deliver tests more like teachers and less like corporate bureaucrats."

3) There's a lot of gobbledeegook in this one, but I think it paraphrases roughly as "Train teachers better in how to sell these state tests, because students aren't properly absorbing the propaganda about what is going on."

4) Make educator collaboration a priority in every school and district. I honestly don't see where this one is coming from.

5) Prioritize technology readiness.

The title of the report is Making Assessment Matter. That title includes a message (hint: why are there no reports "Making Water Wet"?)-- you don't have to "make" something become what it already is. The contents of the report are clear-- the majority of students and teachers have figured out that state assessments don't matter, not when it comes to actual education.

No comments:

Post a Comment