Monday, June 29, 2015

Testing: NY Relaxes Nothing

It would be surprising to find that one of the nation's leading newspapers does not understand some basic vocabulary, but apparently the New York Times does not know what "relax" means.

Yesterday the Times ran a story claiming that the state had "relaxed" the teacher gag order on test items, and then preceded to prove this false in the very same story.

See, now the state will allow teachers to discuss items on the test after they have been publicly released, whereas previously, teachers could only discuss test items after they had been publicly released.

Under the new law, teachers and administrators will be free to discuss certain test questions, but only those that have been publicly released by the state.

For years, the state publicly released every question on elementary and middle school standardized tests, but then stopped after discovering that the practice had led to inflated scores.

According to the article, what has actually changed is that the state has decided to release some test items again-- but only some. After all, there are important interests to protect here:

It takes years of trials, not to mention money, to come up with questions appropriate for mass testing.

As always, test proctors are forbidden to look at the tests they are proctoring. And nobody can discuss items that the test manufacturer hasn't released. I'm sure they'll go ahead and release the more controversial items so that folks can have an open and transparent discussion of what's going on in the testing universe.

No, I don't think so either. Teachers can still talk about test items that have been released, and test manufacturers are still free to keep any parts of the test under wraps that they so choose. So as far as the gag order goes, nothing has changed.

Or, as Carol Burris put it this morning

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