Monday, November 9, 2015

Just too impatient for real gains

Big news in Wisconsin this fall, we have a (another) new power test this school year - the Wisconsin Forward Exam.   Replacing the long used WKCE and the 1 year used Smarter Balanced.  For years the WKCE was given and basically ignored by many educators, what do you do with a test given in the fall with results returned in the spring.  It never tested problem solving, collaborating, revising, either.  Then....

We worked for multiple years to shift to the CCSS and a new test.  A test which was suppose to be easier to use data from and provide a better picture of whether our students were learning the necessary problem solving skills.  Big change, new way - new things to do.  And then, boom, we moved away from the Smarter Balanced assessment after only one year (yeah the roll out was bad).  Maybe it is the right move, I am not sure, but it really shows how easily education drifts with the winds.

Now the Forward test is coming, and it has to hurry for spring; rushing  from the normal 12-18 months, it is being made in about 9 months.

Removed are the performance tasks from the Smarter Balanced, which did have some issues last year.  But the move makes sense because we all do so much scan tron work in the real world....
Now I had not been a fan of the Smarter Balanced assessment performance tasks.  But again - we don't revise, we don't correct - we remove, thus a new wind and another new direction.

So a rushed test, with a different format.  Good, bad I don't know.  Are we really going to have useful data?  Again, not sure.  But it simply shows we have no long term goals for real improvement.  We have no backbone for our vision and path.

Worst of all, we have armed a small, very small, but vocal minority of people whose rally cry is don't change.  Why work at the new things?  So initiatives simply disappear - we don't revise in education we replace.

This all is part of the perfect storm of education, it takes years in industry to run long range plans, you set it and hold it.  Little bumps are expected and dealt with - education does not have that resiliency.  And now for the first year our national scores dipped in over 2 decades - it is not isolated.

I truly believe that dip is because of the lack of professionalism shown the teaching profession coupled with a vision that changes with the wind.  We are simply not doing the right things long enough, we are just too impatient for real gains.

(FYI - I started this blog weeks ago - when the news was fresh - I was just raging too much to make a readable post until now)