Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 55: Standardized Testing

WAAAAY back on Day 3, I avoided posting a long rant about the standardized testing that took up an entire class period. I'm going to try and avoid the full rant, but rather offer an explanation of what's going on. 

I'm required to give a Quarterly Common Assessment to the core classes I teach (physics and geometry). This means I give the exact same test at least 5 times throughout the year to my classes so that the school can track growth. 

For physics, I use the Force Concept Inventory which is far better than any assessment I could write. But for geometry, I volunteered to create a diagnostic / common assessment that all the math teachers could use. Right now it's a 45 question test with 15 questions covering pre-algebra, 15 covering algebra, and 15 covering geometry. The original idea was to give a diagnostic test to students who enter our school at random times throughout the year so that we could place them in the appropriate math class. I co-opted the idea for the common assessment for "simplicity."

To recap: I gave a 30 question test (no geometry) in the first week of school. Today I gave those exact same 30 questions with an additional 15 tacked on. I will give that same 45 question test again at the start of the 2nd semester (don't want to waste time before finals), again at the start of the 3rd marking period (early April I think) and again before school lets out in June. The exact same test

There's a debate here about the merits of "growth" when measured like this, and I think my opinion shines through with the emphasis I added. 5 class days lost to (IMHO) invalid data. 

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