Saturday, March 05, 2005

High stakes tests on steroids

From yesterday's Sun Sentinel (via O'hanian):



The top-secret material arrives in shrink-wrapped boxes, the containers to be secured in vaults with tumbler locks. Each document possesses a unique tracking code. Each is strictly for-your-eyes-only.

It's not the formula for cold fusion, the floor plans for nuclear reactors or even the Oscar envelopes.

It's the FCATs.


That's Florida's high stakes test. How much does all this cost and why isn't that money going to instructional programs instead of diagnostic tools when excellent tests (like the NAEP) already exist? The article points out that the multiyear contract for creating and field testing FCAT questions costs $145 million. That doesn't include security for the tests.

And that's only for Florida. This is going on all over America. Billions of scarce education dollars are being devoted to measurement while programs as varied as drug-free schools to the National Writing Project are cut.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jenny D. said...

Okay, If you can tell me the following, I might consider your argument:

Is the FCAT created specifically to match Florida's curriculum, or is it an off the shelf, like Terra Nova, that's had some modifications?

Is the scoring criterion referenced?

How tightly is at aligned with curriculum, ie. how long after instruction in a subject is it tested?

Explain why an annual test on a specific curriculum is not as good at measuring whether students are learning what is taught, as the NAEP which is a broad test designed to find out what students know nationally.

Show me some evidence that drug-free school programs had effects. That is, beyond windy individual anecdotes from assistant principals.

12:22 AM  

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