Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Evidence and The Test...I'll take the Tiger

The data, the evidence, best practices, standardized tests. Aaahhh, sweet delights of the school life.

Last year, my middle school got to pilot the online version of the standardized reading test, after years of paper/pencil tests. So, last year's test was doubly different for us. First, it was a new test (under a new state superintendent); second, we went electronic. I observed then that these two things would make the 2010 test a baseline that should serve as a new starting point in the search for trends and patterns. I don't think anybody in 'educational leadership' cares much for the requirements of useful analysis, though.

Not that it would matter, as I don't really know what to do with this.

Reading Passing at my school, for the 2008, 2009, 2010 tests
(Scores from OSPI Report Card)

6th grade 84.9 79.7 66.1

7th grade 73.2 74.2 69.2

8th grade 72.1 80.3 82.8

The 6th and 7th graders decreased significantly on their computer tests. (Move right one box and down one box to follow the same group over the years--an idea we never seem to talk much about when we're 'analyzing' the data each fall. The 2009-2010 6th graders achieved 81% passing in 5th grade.)

The 8th graders, however, significantly increased over their 7th grade performance, though they didn't quite make it back to their 6th grade performance.

One school, one of the four standardized tests (writing, math and science are the other three), indecipherable patterns (which would be even more muddled if I showed you the other test scores and also went back a couple of years).

Now, try to figure out which programs to emphasize for this school. For instance, what's a 7th grade language arts teacher to do--they face both the reading and writing test in the same year?

I hope the Governor's reorganization plan will make this all clearer.

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