Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

"Hacking" School Ratings & Test Scores

CJW, July 12, 2010 1:00 PM


"Recognizing that their students learn best when actively engaged, consortium schools typically use inquiry-based methods of learning with classrooms steeped in discussion, project-based assignments, and student choice  . . ."
-Martha Foote

acking" School Ratings & Student Assessments
- C.J. Westerberg

Very important article (PDK) brought to light by today's Jay Mathews' post at The Washington Post.   A must-read regarding student assessment, rating schools and standardized testing, based upon Martha Foote's article in PDK's (Phi Delta Kappan education journal), "Keeping Accountability Systems Accountable":

"It is widely assumed that if students pass state tests that are aligned with state standards, their school is doing a great job in educating them, and if they pass the state's exit exam, they are ready to face the challenges of college.  Ms. Foote challenges these assumptions and presents an alternative way of judging the quality of a student's high school education."

Bravo, Ms. Foote for taking the conversation about our high schools, which have turned into test-prep factories, to another line of thinking in terms of assessment and quality.  Credit for bringing this article back on the front burner goes to Monty Neill at Fairtest as credited by Jay Mathews.

Excerpts to the Mathews' post, "Intriguing alternative to rating schools by test," including mention of Deborah Meier's extensive contribution to this subject, with link Here:
"Recognizing that their students learn best when actively engaged, consortium schools typically use inquiry-based methods of learning with classrooms steeped in discussion, project-based assignments, and student choice. Consortium schools are also committed to using complex, performance-based assessments to gauge student learning, with four specific performance tasks required of all students for graduation.

They are using assessment methods developed from those first pioneered by Deborah Meier and her colleagues at the Central Park East Secondary School in the 1970s. 'These days, each consortium student must complete  -  an analytic literary essay, a social studies research paper, an original science experiment, and the application of higher-level mathematics,' Foote said.

What I liked about Meier's assessments, and these, is that they do not depend entirely on the judgments of teachers who might be tempted, at least subconsciously, to give students they know and love better grades than they deserve, and undercut the school's standards. . . "

And the results?  Drumroll, please:

"Foote said, compared to averages for New York City high schools in general, 'consortium schools post a lower dropout rate, higher college-bound rate, and higher daily attendance'.

Related article from The Daily Riff here, "Why Testing Fails Us".

Let us know what YOUR riff is about this topic . . . .

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