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  1. #81
    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Could you narrow that question down a bit?
    I'm interested in why you posted the abstract and the excerpt, and particularly interested in what you took away from reading both the abstract and the Times article.
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  2. #82
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairdoug View Post
    Reading through, I noticed:

    How does one figure out who is a weak teacher? Yes, that’s a challenge. But researchers are improving systems to measure “value added” from beginning to end of the year, and, with three years of data, it’s usually possible to tell which teachers are failing.
    And had a lol. That's some pleasing understatement there.

    But it's interesting that the value added (stupid business buzz is stupid) is supposed to be added over the course of a year, and that adequate measuring works on several years worth of comparative data.

    Or we could do standardised test results. Keep up the good thinking, administrators.

    Also:

    Teaching is so important that it should be like other professions, with high pay and good working conditions but few job protections for bottom performers.
    Seems like a very good idea.
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  3. #83
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Depends on the standardized test. I don't recall the SAT or ACT dealing with regurgitation of facts. I'd know: I suck at regurgitating facts (especially history tests), but I do remarkably well on standardized tests.
    That is because tests like the SAT are designed to measure aptitude, not achievement. To assess what students have actually learned, one uses an achievement test like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or the many statewide tests by grade and subject, or as a graduation requirement. I have seen some of these and both memorized information and solution "recipes" feature strongly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the reading comprehension questions are so subjective, that more than one answer could legitimately be correct, though only one is given credit.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    The role of a standardized test is to help get a marker as to what a student's grades really mean. If a class's average GPA is 3.5, but they get way below-average scores on standardized tests, then that 3.5 doesn't mean as much (for a given class/school) as it would if their standardized test scores were significantly above average. Such statistics can be normalized/controlled to account for regional/economic differences. After that, it's a matter of deciding what to do with the results: if a school's 4th graders can on average only do 3rd grade math, that's probably OK, especially if there are extenuating circumstances, but if a school's 4th graders are still stuck on 1st grade math, there's a huge problem.
    Yes, this is the main legitimate utility of standardized achievement tests, to serve as a benchmark for the grading scales of various school systems. It would be more accurate to use student test scores in aggregate to "calibrate" the grading scale of each school, though, than to use the scores directly to tell anything about a specific student or teacher. See also remarks below about university admission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    Say... any employers out there hiring on the basis of test scores?
    Universities are certainly doing that. Nearly all require students to take some standardized test for admission, usually SAT or ACT. The better schools use this mainly as a crude sorting factor, though, weighing much more heavily such other factors as grades, extracurricular involvement, essays, recommendations, and especially personal interviews. I have served as an interviewer for my undergraduate university, and have some insight into the value of this process when schools have the resources to employ it.

    As for employers, we are unfortunately getting closer and closer to hiring-by-test albeit one step removed. In more and more fields, applicants will not be considered unless they have some kind of professional certificate or credential, obtained frequently by -- you guessed it -- passing a standardized test. This is backwards. Educational evaluation should be taking lessons from business, not the reverse.
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  4. #84
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    It's not that I don't want teachers to be accountable. I just don't think test scores are a good way to go about that. Equating standardized testing in elementary and middle school with the SAT, GRE, LSAT, whatever other college exams people take, completely ignores realities of child development.

    Bottom line, though, teachers don't teach in a vacuum. My kids have had crappy teachers and still made improvements because their dad and I had to step up our involvement and enrichment those years over the years they had awesome teachers. And the year my daughter had her most awesome teacher of all, her test scores actually fell from the year prior- in part because the previous (crappy) teacher just taught the test all year, and the good one had them out doing stuff like taking apart and putting together appliances and going to the library and touring a newspaper press instead of showing them how to make proper test bubbles. (She still scored very high.)

  5. #85
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    EDIT - If tests are adequate to measure the achievement of our children, why are they not up to the task of evaluating the skills of those that teach them?
    That isn't really what's happening, though. Teachers aren't being evaluated on how well they know the material they are teaching, etc. They are being evaluated on how well their students are able to take tests. The environments kids come from are not being taken into consideration. There are accommodations for kids with special needs (like extra time, a smaller group, etc) but that's about it. Funding varies wildly from school to school. But the standards students are being held to are the same. And, until high school in my area, the test doesn't impact the kid all that much. It impacts the teacher, the school, the school district and it impacts funding a lot.

    My kids went to an poor, inner-city middle school in a mid-sized town. My kids did pretty well there -- my oldest daughter made the transition to advanced classes in a large, mixed income high school without a hitch, for example. However, the school as a whole had bad test scores. The first way they addressed the problem was to focus their resources on improving the kids that were close to passing the test but not quite there. When that did not improve scores quickly enough, the corporation decided to close the school.

    So now the students that were at that school are divided up between two much larger, overcrowded middle schools. As far as I can tell, the primary purpose for this was so that the bad test scores would be diluted enough by larger schools that it wouldn't hurt the corporation's overall scores.

    So basically, it's Z Buck McFate's theory of cleaning around the burner in action. It's not better for the kids. It's better for the test scores and that isn't necessarily the same thing.
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  6. #86
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Educational evaluation should be taking lessons from business, not the reverse.
    Really?

    Something about practices that fit the right employee to the right position? That kind of thing can be talked about in education separately, I think. (And the separation is good if only for how it rules out importing the various other inappropriate business concepts, like productivity. Student productivity, teacher productivity... what does that even mean?) But... making matches between student needs and abilities and the teaching of subjects is small world thinking. It's good world thinking, but small. By virtue of sheer numbers, education these days is industrial. Class rooms are factories and student scores are products, even if we don't want them to be.

    The industrial scale of education these days is warping many judgments about what to do next.
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  7. #87
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    Really?
    Really. And I do mean business, not industry. Business in the best sense, where there is the expectation of producing a product or service that actually performs, and does not simply give the appearance of doing so.
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  8. #88
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Really. And I do mean business, not industry. Business in the best sense, where there is the expectation of producing a product or service that actually performs, and does not simply give the appearance of doing so.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! No business does that. Business is people organised for the purpose of making money.

    However, we could attempt to invent some system that administers the creation of a particular kind of valued process, and insist that such a thing can be run, productively, according to its creative intent. Which is to say there is indeed some kind of product formed in education, but we are going to get into all kinds of trouble if the dimwits in charge of the money aren't aware that a substantial part of that product is intangible. As a matter of talking about stuff, using business models to talk about education runs the considerable risk of diminishing the value of education just by not being able to... *gulp*... measure in standardised terms the product.
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  9. #89
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    One thing we might learn from business, or at least from economics, is the difference between a commodity and a product. If there is not meant to be any qualitative difference between this or that education, which is to say, if all persons are meant to be educated and teacher merit is determined by standardised tests, then education is a commodity. If anyone wants education to be more than that, and if by more than that they mean it will be a product rather than a commodity, realise that education likely can not now be universal. If education is a product, it's differentiated in some way from other offerings. Meaning not everyone will like it the same.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

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  10. #90
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    NOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! No business does that. Business is people organised for the purpose of making money.
    Blanket statements...generating profit is not always the primary objective of those in business.
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