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born2teachuga born2teachuga is offline
 
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Ideas for paper about the Problems/Issues/Trends with Assessment
Old 01-19-2014, 03:23 PM
 
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I need help with a graduate level assignment for one of my classes. We have to choose a trend/issue/or problem with assessments to write a 2-4 page paper on. A trend would be defined as being how assessments have changed over a period of time, an issue would be two or more different sides that don't agree with the way assessments should be, and a problem would be an opinion someone has about something being invalid or bad such as the problem of information gained from an assessment.

A lot of my classmates are writing about the issue with the amount of testing students have to take in school and I could do the same, but I want to do something different. It's been a while since I've been in the classroom so I thought I would see if I could get feedback from other teachers about this to help me come up with something to write about.

Thanks so much!!!


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Rather than the amount, how about the type?
Old 01-19-2014, 03:58 PM
 
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Almost all testing done these days is multiple choice. I think it's done a pretty good job of robbing kids of the ability or will to think independently. If I hear, one more time, "Why can't you just tell me the right answer," I will scream.

I would love to see a much wider array of assessment possibilities - portfolios, authentic assessment, problem-based learning, etc. Of course this is insanely more complicated and expensive to carry out but I think we are multiple-choicing our kids right out of the ability to think critically or to even think that's a skill set that they should have.
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Well in low income
Old 01-19-2014, 04:05 PM
 
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and therefore, low scoring schools, such as mine, there is a very troubling trend. It's to bring in consultants who tell us what we have to do is give common assessments to the kids. The thinking behind this sounds pretty good: we all give the same assessment (in my case, writing), and we look at our scores and results, and compare. Those of us who have kids who do well can tell the rest of us how they did it. Everyone else does the same and voila! Scores go up!

Except it doesn't work that way. The way it works is this: you have to take two days out of instruction to administer this writing test. Kids who are below level miss two days of instruction to take this test. The scores are predictable. Everyone you knew would do well did do well and everyone you knew wouldn't, didn't. This is because you're their TEACHER and you have sat with them and revised and done targeted mini lessons. You have worked and worked with them. You know who's strong where and who's weak where. It's your job to know this.

Administration and consultants don't believe you. They are sure they know how to raise your scores. After you do it their way for a few times, you finally can't stand it anymore and you realize the only thing you can do is close your door and teach. Resistance is futile. Don't argue; just close the door.

The lack of respect for both teachers' knowledge and expertise is the thing that I think is really rotten about all the assessments. I realize you don't feel like you want to write about over testing, but that really is the biggest issue there is. But rather than take the tack that it's awful for the kids (which it is), maybe take the tack that the insinuation that teachers are somehow to blame for kids' scores from poverty. That's the insinuation that drives reform. I think you should think about whether all these assessments are really to measure kids, or are they equally as much there to drive teachers out? Teachers' opinions about their kids should always count for much, much more than a test score. I can tell you more about Lukas' reading and writing than Scantron can, any day, any time.

Oh yeah, and they added a reading test also now for kids whose reading I can already tell you all about, as well (they're the same kids).
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Thanks for responding
Old 01-19-2014, 04:07 PM
 
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Eliza, thank you so much for your response and suggestion. I may be wrong though bc like I said, I've been out of the classroom for a while now, but I thought that with the transition to Common Core that students would be doing a lot more performance based assessments/constructed responses than multiple choice. I know when I was teaching Common Core was just being discussed as something the US was considering and not actually being implemented and because of that we decided to take our reading tests and change the format of them to align with the Common Core to see how they would do and it was terrible because we had 1st graders writing short responses to reading questions when some of them had barely even learned how to spell basic sight words and could barely write a complete sentence.

I was thinking of maybe writing about the issues with teacher licensure (like something about improving the measures of highly qualified teaching and relating that to the weakness of the NCLB Paradigm), but I wasn't sure because I did a research paper last semester on the problems students were having with passing the Praxis I and how because of that they were changing their majors, but I'm thinking that might be a lot harder to write about.
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Wow!
Old 01-19-2014, 04:10 PM
 
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Mary...I was really actually thinking about that initially because I know exactly what you're talking about because I went through the same thing when I was teaching. I just have to figure out how to clearly state that as a problem and how to find an article for my works cited page to support why it's an issue. Search engines are giving me way too much.


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Old 01-19-2014, 04:18 PM
 
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Two issues my district if facing is common district assessments (beyond the state mandated tests) and computerized testing overtaking paper and pencil, and at a younger and younger age...example- a young student is taking a writing test online but may not have the typing skills needed at this age?
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Technology
Old 01-19-2014, 06:17 PM
 
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Kster, I was thinking the same as you. Many districts will not be prepared to take the assessments on computers. Also, the students will not be ready. Third grade students will have to type their stories, open and close tabs, drag and drop the answers in math to apply knowledge, and navigate on a computer. PARCC is one of the two tests, and many states are dropping out of the testing due to the cost of technology. I think this would be a good topic for you. I know we are working on keyboarding this year and my students would never be able to type a full story.
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What if you searched for
Old 01-19-2014, 07:44 PM
 
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something like teacher marginalization and assessments? I would look at journals of the NCTE and IRA, possibly.

Do you have to state it as a statement or a question? If a statement, how about, "District-mandated common assessments waste classroom (instructional) time while providing teachers with information they already have."

If a question, "Do district-mandated assessments waste classroom (instructional) time or give teachers valuable information?"

A good way to start such a paper, thanks for asking (:-0) would be by narrating the experience of you or one of your colleagues, then lead into the rest of it from that intro.
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Common Core
Old 01-20-2014, 06:43 AM
 
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I'm in one of the few states that did not adopt the CC. I have friends in NY, though, who had students take their new CC test last year. As far as I know it was all multiple choice. I think as long Pearson is running the show, it's going to be multiple choice - at least in the short term. I can't imagine why first graders are being forced to write anything for an assessment. Sigh.

I love the sound of your topic. It probably would be harder to write about. Too many opinions on that from people who either know nothing about it (Bill Gates) or who have a vested interest in making teachers look bad and in desperate need of help (every testing and consulting company, ever).
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