Friday, August 12, 2016

CO: Damn, PARCC-- You Had One Job

Well, the lead from this Chalkbeat article gets it.

For a second year in a row, schools across Colorado are back in session and principals are empty-handed.

Somehow the Colorado Department of Education has statewide results, but districts and schools and teachers will have to wait a few more months, because those results will be released "later." And how is that even possible?

The article quotes both a public school principal and a charter CEO, and I guess we can credit PAARC with putting them on the same page, that page being, "Well, in a few months when those results get here, we'll have already set our instructional sales for this year. Maybe someday PAARC data will actually be useful. In the meantime, we're depending on other stuff."

Man, where is the invisible hand of the free market when you need it. Isn't PARCC supposed to be convulsing in paroxysms of excellence, working their butts off to make sure they keep their test-crunching job in one of the nine states (if you count DC) that are still PAARCkified. But no-- Colorado will once again get whatever meager data PARCC can offer months too late to be of any real use. 

Why does anybody bother with this test, again?

The state's comment-- "Well, at least the test results won't arrive as hugely unspeakably late as they did last year." The state's chief testing officer blames the delay on the 6% of the tests taken with paper and pencil. Let's see. Colorado has a little under 900,000 students pre-K through 12. PARCC covers testing for grades 3 through 9. So, very roughly, 450,000.About 10% of Colorado students opted out. Six percent gets us very roughly 24,000. 24,000 paper tests take months to correct. Does PARCC have only one scantron machine? Is it broken? How did they think they were going to manage all the tests involved if a dozen other states hadn't dropped out of the consortium?

The last line of the story is just as telling as the first:

A spokesman from PARCC declined to comment.

There are so many things wrong with the PARCC test, so many things wrong with the whole business of using a large, narrow standardized test to determine whether students are learning or teachers are teaching or schools are any good. But if we are going to maintain the fiction that PARCC somehow yields data that teachers and schools can use to adjust instruction (which they probably can, if by "instruction" you mean "test prep"), then the whizzes at PARCC need to get the data to schools before the school year is largely over. PARCC, you have one job-- to get useful data to schools within a useful time frame. And you blew it again. 

1 comment:

  1. It's not just PAARC.

    When I was a teacher of physical science in SC, the state end of course test ('EOC') was a 'black box' with no effective sources for review.

    I actually don't have a philosophical problem with teaching to a test as long as that test is 1)WELL DESIGNED 2)the expectations are well defined & realistic 3)Old tests are regularly released & 4)ACTUALLY WRITTEN BY TESTING PRO's!!!

    I have problems with the College Board. However, at least for Physics C & when there was Physics B, the materials & philosophies were available & well defined.(I DO have some problems with the so-called 'redesign' which based on so-called ed-research. Those of us who have backgrounds in actual science regard 'educational research' as an oxymoron.)

    The American Chemical Society has a post-HS course test which for years heavily influenced, in a positive way, HS chem curriculum.

    The key? Get the testing out of the hands of the textbook giants. Most of the texts they have marketed for high school science are not all that well written & are full of basic errors in science. They produce dookie texts & dookie tests. F-them.