Meeting “standard” at the 11th grade on the SB test, means the student is ready to take credit-bearing courses at college.

Isn’t that premature?  Above the standard, perhaps. But meeting the standard in 11th grade now means a child is ready to take courses at Princeton? WTF? What’s then is the point of 12th grade?  This is absolutely insane…  I certainly wasn’t ready for college in the 11th grade. Were you?  Did it devastate you both personally and professionally because you weren’t?

Given that roughly 30-40% of American students graduate and enter college, SBAC anticipates 30-40% of students gaining proficiency on this test.

So let’s be clear: for at least the first year, only 30-40% of students will earn proficiency on this assessment by the very nature of its creation.  Conversely… 60% to 70% will be below standard...  Meaning that 3/4ths of our children are not ready for college in 11th grade…   Well. Duh!

This system will be used to build a growth scale of student learning from the 3rd through 11th grade.  

Since 70% of students WILL fail in the 11th Grade, 70% will have to fail in the tenth, the ninth, the eighth, the seventh, all the way done to kindergarten….  If you don’t perform 2 years ahead of your level when you first enter kindergarten, you are already behind!… Being one year ahead of your age, is now simply chicken poo… The minimum standard is now that you are 2 levels above, and to be considered excellent, you have to be either 3 to 5 years ahead of your age. Kind of hard to do in kindergarten.

To SBAC, “multiple measures” means different types of questions (multiple choice, short answer, etc.), NOT different types of assessments.

When you think you are getting a thorough evaluation using multiple measures of your student, you are not. “Multiple measures” is just a fancy name to say that the test is not all multiple choice.  Duh.  Something we’ve been doing for a very long time….

As the data “drifts” over time, the more difficult questions will be added to ensure grade-level fidelity to Common Core State Standards. They are defining question difficulty by the percentage of kids who get the question correct.

Last spring’s (2014) field testing was an attempt to assign difficulty points to each of the 40,000 some questions in their data bank.  The questions were not rated on standards used since the dawn of time which is:  should a normal person be able to answer this.  Instead they were rated strictly on the numbers of correct answers each question got and how high or low was that percentage … Here is a simple model of how it works.  You are trying for a 75% fail rate.  If a question received a 50% fail rate, then that question was too easy.  If it received a 95% fail rate, it was too hard… If it was between 73 and 77 percents, it was about right and will be on the test.  If another state desires a higher pass rate, say 50%, then his state’s questions will be culled from those answered  between the 48 and 52 percents….  That way every test can be individually different, and can be sold to whomever has the money to buy. (Since it is all on software, there are no printed costs involved when switching standards… Just a push of a button.)

The SBAC stresses complexity over difficulty.

Complexity of questions refers to the type of learning, where there are multiple steps, whereas difficulty refers to the academic challenge of the questions themselves.  For example,  figuring out a problem with 30 steps requiring use of single digit numbers would be complex… Most 11th graders can add, subtract, divide, and multiple. Comparing the surface areas of two unrelated objects, one a pyramid and the other a sphere, would be difficult…   yet easy to do if one knew the formulas and then could make a simple comparison.  As parents have mostly complained, the Smarter Balance Assessment is designed to test complex simpleness, and not knowledge. (Def not good for ADHD kids).

The “adaptive” test situation can allow for higher- and lower-grade testing, outside the assessed grade.

The test questions will then change in difficulty based on the responses the student gives. The questions are supposed to “draw on the student’s knowledge of CCSS skills and allow for problem-solving within a real-world setting”   (I’ll confess, I’m not sure exactly how one can draw on their CCSS skills).

If your state is not cheap, it can buy into the digital library of half of the pooled questions (the other half is reserved for the test) and for a fee (don’t you just love capitalism).  

States can have their teachers probe those 20,000 questions reserved to use for interim and formative assessments. Teachers now have opportunity to use questions from grades outside the ones they are teaching and can use them to determine higher- and lower-grade level abilities of their students. These interim tests are now available this mid- to late-fall, and although these tests will be delivered online, the results flow to the user, not to SBAC.  Worried teachers can now even invest their own fortune to get a preliminary jump on this test as well. The online resources for teachers to use to improve on-going assessment practices were added in response to the general feeling that many teachers are  not entirely comfortable with in-class formative and on-going assessments. These resources are well worth the cost, but I wonder how many financially strapped states have purchased them..

The sole purpose of the test is to determine a way for students to show what they have learned.  SBAC insists that this tool cannot be used to evaluate teachers…

It was not designed as such, and will give erroneous readings if used for that very purpose.  The SBAC should not be used to close schools … It should not be used to compare states to other states, districts to other districts… It is not designed for such… It is actually flexibly designed against doing such… It should only to be used as a vehicle to allow students to prove what they know, and nothing else. Some of us were incredulous over that statement.  How can that be, we wondered?  If you test kids, you get an accurate picture of what they know and don’t know and can fire people accordingly… No, says the SBAC.  That would be immoral. It is just a tool, and depending on its use, the purpose can stay true or be perverted to some other focus; say, for instance, teacher evaluations. Clearly this is not the intent of SBAC.  When pressed for an example we were offered this: in an inner city school cursed with students entering having only a limited vocabulary under 5000 words, an elementary teacher can make superlative gains in their growth, be one of the most phenomenal teachers ever created, yet still not have her students settle into the top 30% of the population… To be held up as bad teacher for not putting all her students in that range would be a gross tragedy and a misapplication of management malfeasance.  Hence, the SBAC should NEVER be used in any Component 5 evaluations; EVER.

The Opt Out movement for now is gaining steam among the parents of school aged children.  The insanity of testing children to determine not what they know…. but what they don’t know, and then rank them as either a success and failure solely by their arbitrary luck of a guess, cannot be good for society or the future security of our nation…

To hire and fire teachers,not on evidence, but lack of any thereof, also cannot be good for society or the future security of our nation.

To turn schools over to privateers, not on evidence but on any lack thereof, certainly cannot be good for society or the future security of our nation.

So for now, opting out as a form of civil disobedience is, and can be, the greatest display of true patriotism one may bear in ones lifetime… At least this threat that masses (6%) will opt out, needs to emerge so that across Federal, State, and local landscapes it truly appears that a trillion dollars has been thrown away in vain.

Perhaps, that will get the non-educational public’s attention and cause protections to then be codified, safeguards that outlaw the use of this test for anything other than assessing what each student knows.  Till then, all parents of school-aged children should prepare and plan on some type of flu hitting their household some time this Spring when the Assessments are slated to be given their schools.

Opt out.

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