Wednesday, May 11, 2016

PARCC Revealed

So this is what we've come to-- it's an act of brave rebellion, a risk to career and liveihood, to publish some questions from PARCC's Big Standardized Test.

At Outrage on the Page, an anonymous teacher has taken the what-shouldn't-be-dangerous step of publishing actual questions from the fourth grade PARCC. This is a dangerous move because, of course, we are all sworn to secrecy about our BS Tests. In PA I must swear that I won't look at the test, and if I do, I will promptly forget everything I see there. We've known for a while that Pearson has a security team that monitors social media for any student security breaches. Because at the end of the day, BS Test manufacturers are more worried about their proprietary money-making property than they are about making a good test or providing real test results.

You know what kind of test needs this sort of heavy security? A crappy test. 

That is confirmed by the anonymous post, which simply puts in the sunlight what teachers who deal with this steaming heap of BS Testocracy already know. I recommend that you go read the post in its entirety-- and more importantly, share it with your friends who aren't teachers-- but here's a taste.

Here's one of the prompts.

[Okay, here it isn't. The single prompt apparently put this blog post on the "naughty" list, and blogger flipped a switch and put the post back to "draft" status. So I'm redacting the prompt for the time being so that the post doesn't remain a ghost and folks can see what has happened.

The prompt was based on the short story "Sadako's Secret" and asked the student to extrapolate a sequel of sorts in which the student tells the story of what would happen in the year after the story events, including the possible tryout of the main character for the junior high track team. ]


REDACTED

The teacher correctly points out that this corresponds to exactly none of the Common Core State[sic] Standards. But when I look at that, I also wonder-- exactly how is that prompt going to be scored? It is a BS Test triple whammy-- it assumes first that there is only one correct way to read the story, then it assumes that there is only one correct way to write about the story, and then, on top of that, it masquerades as a creative opinion question, the kind of question about which students would (correctly) say, "Well, I can't get this wrong because it's what I think."

This is what test prep is about. Teaching students to understand that in testing situations, it's never about what they think or feel or imagine. The first step in responding to this prompt is not to ask, "Well, what do I think would happen next year." As always, the first step is to ask, "Well, what do they want me to say?"

Also, as anonymous teacher points out, exactly how does a fourth grader relate to the experience of trying out for a junior high track team.

Check out the post for other equally terrible testing moments from the PARCC. And marvel that we live in a world where simply publishing PARCC questions qualifies as an act of bravery.

UPDATE: I found another post this morning that uses the novel method of an intra-state leak, and so is partnered with the post above. The reporting of PARCC questions is even more damning and detailed. Don't miss this one-- and again, make sure to pass it on to your non-teacher friends who imagine that a Big Standardized Test must be legit.

UPDATE: Well, PARCC is slightly less revealed. The writer at Outrage has removed the excerpts from the test under legal threat by PARCC. The second post (from the first update) at kavips is still up, but we'll see how long that lasts. I've copied it, which is what I should have done with the first one. Meanwhile, it appears that everybody who ever posted a link to the "Outrage" post was DMCA'ed on twitter. Way to go, PARCC police. That notice, incidentally, courtesy of the following:

DMCA Takedown Notice

== Copyright owner: Laura Slover
== Name: Kevin Michael Days
== Company: PARCC Inc.
== Job title: Assoicate Director, Operations
== Email address: kdays@parcconline.org

== Address: 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 6th Floor
== City: Washington
== State/Province: District of Columbia
== Postal code: 20006
== Country: United States
== Phone (optional): 2027488077
== Fax (optional): n/a

11 comments:

  1. Wow. I can't believe they expect a 9 year old to do this. I can't believe ANYONE would expect a 9 year old to do this. I never had to do anything approaching this until 12th grade English Honors class.

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  2. Not only will 4th graders have a difficult time relating to the experience of trying out for a junior high track team, some of them won't understand what "try out" means in this context and some might not know much at all about track and field.

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  3. Just UGH. It's like my son's 4th grade state ELA test a few years ago, which asked about babysitting, one-year-olds, and elephants. Being an nine-year-old boy with no siblings or cousins, he didn't know anything about babysitting or one-year-olds, but he received a horrible score for a fun and creative story about elephants! Grrr...

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  4. As always, the first step is to ask, "Well, what do they want me to say?"

    Yep, with FSA we do AIR and SBAC in Florida, but I had a similar conversation with my Geometry students: every problem you will see on your test about doing a proof is NOT how YOU would do a proof, you have to guess how someone else is doing a proof. Yes, you could do a 12 step proof that is logically valid and correct, but the BS test isn't interested in that. What it wants to know is how well you can fill in the blanks of someone else's 8-step proof, valid or invalid though it be.

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  5. Wow...
    In a word that I 1st heard from my WWII combat vet father, PARCC is fubar.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember when I was working in California and read the fifth grade multiple-choice science test. It appeared to be written by people who did not understand science. I could easily justify multiple answers to many questions. In fact, there was one question for which I could justify every possible answer. Unfortunately, as in the present case, we all had been sworn to secrecy.

    In the end, I never read any of those tests again, not so much because I had promised not to, but because reading them made my blood boil.

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  7. Twitter has taken down, at PARCC's request, the Tweet I sent that linked to the original blog post about the PARCC items.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I tweeted this terrific article, and today got this email, as did many others. What do you make of this?

    "Hello,


    The following material has been removed from your account in response to the DMCA takedown notice copied at
    the bottom of this email:


    Tweet: https://twitter.com/sheilaresseger/status/730496948109778945 - CURMUDGUCATION: PARCC Revealed https://t.co/7wqsN59Xea



    If you believe the material has been removed as a result of mistake or misidentification,
    you may send us a counter-notification of your objection pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(g)(3).Please include the following in your counter-notification:



    Your full name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and Twitter user name.



    Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location
    at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled.



    The following statement: “I swear under penalty of perjury that I have a good faith belief that the material was
    removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.”



    A statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district in which
    your address is located, or if your address is outside of the United States, the Northern District of California,
    and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notice under 17 U.S.C. 512 (c)(1)(C) or an
    agent of such person.



    Your physical or electronic signature




    Please send your counter-notification to us as a response to this message, or as a new email to copyright@twitter.com.


    We will forward a copy of your counter-notification, including the information required in item 1 above, to the
    complainant and Chilling Effects. BY SENDING US A COUNTER-NOTIFICATION, YOU CONSENT TO THIS DISCLOSURE OF YOUR
    PERSONAL INFORMATION.


    Please note that repeat violations of this policy may result in suspension of your account. In order to avoid this,
    do not post additional material in violation of our Copyright Policy and immediately remove any material from your
    account for which you are not authorized to post.


    ******************************


    DMCA Takedown Notice== Copyright owner: Laura Slover
    == Name: Kevin Michael Days
    == Company: PARCC Inc.
    == Job title: Assoicate Director, Operations
    == Email address: kdays@parcconline.org

    == Address: 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 6th Floor
    == City: Washington
    == State/Province: District of Columbia
    == Postal code: 20006
    == Country: United States
    == Phone (optional): 2027488077
    == Fax (optional): n/a

    -------

    == Description of original work: The user has posted a link to a blog that contains secured operational items from the computer-based PARCC Grade 4 English Language Arts/Literacy Assessment, including information about the reading passages and essay prompts.

    == Links to original work: n/a

    ---

    == Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/MrsKnabe/status/730387530160316417

    == Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, Parcc Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by Parcc, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights.

    ---



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  9. Funny, I was just coming here to post the same thing....^^^

    Looks like someone struck a nerve!

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  10. If you need to be convinced of what a Salem-style witch hunt this is, see the actual email text from Slover... a number of people have posted it, including here: https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/parcc-ceo-to-prof-who-posts-live-test-items-reveal-your-informant/

    Insane.

    ReplyDelete
  11. If the ACT and SAT release questions, why can't PARCC? What are they afraid of? Also, why are parents not allowed to see their children's tests?

    ReplyDelete