Monday, May 13, 2013

Students first or testing first?

So where is the line between data and over-testing?  Rigor and rote-drones?  Accountability and test craziness?

The new WKCE cut scores literally took schools in Wisconsin from approximately 75% passing to 45% passing.  In my district our 'math mission' is to have all my 12th grade graduates ready for "College & Career" readiness in math.  Meaning that if they go to college they can start with a college credit course.  Then the scores change and we went from feeling like we were accomplishing our mission to the feeling that the goal had changed and we are left wondering does the new test prove anything?

When you have really small class sizes word of mouth will get you the results you search for, I always ask my students after graduation for their math placement and results.  Nearly all reply about their placements; and while there is an epidemic with remedial college math, pushing 40% of students, we have been less than 10% the past 3 years.  Isn't  that the goal?  And the students who go to technical colleges are passing their placement test nearly 100% of the time (compass test). 

So as with most things we need to ask ourselves does the current high stakes testing lead to our desired results.  Are the standards and core creating the students we need to be successful in the world?  The Common core is 200+ standards, how many of those are really needed?  Does Cramer's rule really create a better student, or is the only place to show that is an Advanced math course (not Algebra II or lower)? 

Would just a little money in post high school surveying be more useful - I am not really sure but lets face it - teachers work for the students, we're customer service.  But we do NOT work for the current 16 year old, but the 27 year old student.  (I joke that the student's future self called and begged me to be tougher so they could become better problem solvers and get better jobs, thus more money.)  And the new standards and testing does seem to be making a better 27 year old.