The entire premise behind statistics is that they tend to show us how our kids are doing on standardized tests…  But do they show us if our kids are learning?

Recently US News and World Report ranked high schools in New York… It erred.  It treated all tests as the same, yet New York has two types of testing… basic and proficiency.

Imagine if your old bar set was at 4 feet… which 90% at a certain age can jump over.  Imagine you raise the bar to 5 feet meaning only 50% of those would make it over.. And imagine it you wanted to push your top athletes so you raised the bar to 6 feet for those with intensive training….

What US News and World Report did, was simply take the success rates and compare them without accounting for differentials in test difficulty… The top notch schools which had very few people clearing the 6 foot bar scored less well than lesser schools which had a higher success level because they only had to jump 5 feet.  Yet all those in the 6 feet schools could clear 5 feet at no problem…..

So when the listing came out, you had the equivalent of Wilmington Charter Schools with a lower score than Brandywine High School’s remedial labs.  People went “Huh”?  Same in New York.  For you see, statistics reveal a lot, but hide the most important parts… Is a child learning.

The same fallacy lies in testing… Standardized testing… and it’s particulars get aggravated as one pushes against the extreme…

The original idea of standardized testing is based on its name:  can students function in our society by meeting society’s minimum standard?…   The questions were easy.. Those meeting the minimum were passed; we had an accurate description of who would need additional help to function going onward, and those smart could relish their high scores and pat themselves on their backs for a good 12 years of education well spent….

Now that is all up in the air… We made the test a lot harder so fewer and fewer people can pass it… And what does that tell us?  Very little about what we need to know…   If a person fails.. were they very low; medium low-low, medium low, medium, medium high, or medium high-high?   We don’t know. and so we get this gigantic morph that simply is not high or very high.. including 70-80% of the population…

We still know who the highest scorers are.. But we knew that before… Of what we now know more, is who in that very high group was very high, medium high-high, medium high, medium, medium low, medium low-low, and just low…. The data we get back is equivalent when getting change back from a dollar spent, requiring cashiers to always give back 10 pennies when two nickels or a dime would do, justifying that it makes the customer physically more aware he was getting change back, or something as equally psychologically weird….

It is obvious this benefits NO student whatsoever…  just like being forced to always get at least ten pennies back with every cash transaction, benefits no customer whatsoever… Both are for internal purposes only…. One to gather data to fire amazingly good teachers who could otherwise teach their lifetimes; and the other:  to get rid of all the rolls of pennies someone accidentally bought and have been sitting in the store safe forever……

But are the children learning?  With the Smarter Balanced test… we will never know… But based on the NAEP tests given every two years, then yes, our children are learning, and learning more in each grade as time progresses.  Our teachers have made very steady improvement, which until Common Core dismantled all the good programs, was on track to continue as far as the eye could see…

Plus, teachers in the classroom giving their own tests and daily interacting with students, have a far greater pool to access the answer to whether a student is learning, than a labyrinth developed by corporate shills in a stale hotel banquet hall in DC, then tweaked by David Coleman… a man who at the time, never had been around young children to see how they learn…

The Smarter Balanced Test is a travesty really… one that fails to perform its basic duty andshow us the most important part of education:  did the child learn…………………..

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