Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Opt-out: rational reaction to overtesting, unresearched, unreasonable standards.

Published in The Hill, April 19, 2016

Rosa Rosenfeld feels that opting children out of standardized testing is an example of excessive "coddling"  ("The opt-out movement and the coddling epidemic," April 6, 2016).
We need the tests, she argues, because few New York State students are rated as "proficient" in reading and math, and American academic performance is low, compared to other countries.  Please look at the research: When we control for the effect of poverty, American students rank near the top of the world on international tests. Our mediocre average performance is due to the fact that we have so many children living in poverty, now about 25%, the highest among all industrialized countries.  It has also been argued that the score needed to be considered "proficient" is much too high: Most students from high-scoring countries would not reach this level.
Ms. Rosenfeld also needs to take another look at the tests given now and what is planned for the future.  Students in the US are now being tested more than anytime in history. There is no evidence that these tests are doing our students any good, and they bleed valuable time and money from our schools. The opt-out movement is a rational reaction to overtesting, and unresearched, unreasonable standards.  
Ms. Rosenfeld also might want to study what our government in cooperation with testing and computer companies is planning for the future.  Regular instruction will be largely replaced by "competency-based education," a radical and expensive innovation that replaces regular instruction with computer "modules" that students work through on their own. It is limited to what can be easily taught and tested by computer.  There is very little evidence supporting competency-based education; nevertheless the new education law explicitly provides funding and the National Governor's Association has cheerfully endorsed it.
Concerns about overprotection are valid, but this does not mean that "anything goes."

Stephen Krashen
Morna McDermott
Peggy Robertson

Original article: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/education/275154-the-opt-out-movement-and-the-coddling-epidemic

Control for poverty: Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
"Proficient" level: Bracy, G. 2007.  A test everybody will fail. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/02/AR2007050202004.html
No evidence tests are helping: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. OECD.'Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. (2002, March 28). High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student learning Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(18). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n18/.
Competency-based education: McDermott, M., Robertson. P.,and Krashen, S. 2016. Testing All The Time? Language Magazine, January 16. http://languagemagazine.com/?page_id=125014; Laine, R., Cohen, M., Nielson, K. and Palmer, I. 2015. Expanding Student Success: A Primer on Competency-Based Education from Kindergarten Through Higher Education. Washington, D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, October 27, 2015.
New education law (Every Child Succeeds Act): (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1177/text) in sections 1201, 1204). 

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