Tag Archives: science

Field testing – just say “No!”

Stand-alone field test time is here.

Each year students are asked to take a test and ‘try out’ questions so that the producers of the state tests can determine if the questions are ‘good questions’ or not.  Our students do not get paid for participating in these tests.  The results do not affect their grades in any way nor do they inform classroom instruction.  It just assists the test manufacturers along the road to more profit in the creation of next year’s state tests.

Only some schools and some grades within each school are asked by the New York State Education Department to participate in the field tests each year.  The field tests are to be administered between June 1-10, 2015 but the specific date is up to the school.  If a student is absent on the day of the field test, they do not have to make up the field test.  The field tests are NOT mandatory for the school district and in fact some school districts are refusing to participate in the field testing at all this year.

Southampton Field Testing Resolution

Deception associated with the field tests is also being reported.  A memo from NYSED has been reported to encourage teachers to lie about the purpose of the upcoming field tests.

A memo has recently surfaced in which the New York State Department of Education appears to encourage educators to mislead students about upcoming standardized field tests meant to “provide the data necessary to ensure the validity and reliability of the New York State Testing program.”

“Students should not be informed of the connection between these field tests and State assessments,” the memo reads. “The field tests should be described as brief tests of achievement in the subject.”  – Huffington Post May 28, 2015

Also a parent I know in Wappingers Falls reported that her child was already given the field test.   The field test administration is not supposed to begin until June 1 so she had not yet sent in her test REFUSAL letter and was very upset that the school administered the test early.

Parents may send in a letter of REFUSAL for the field tests as they did for the New York State tests back in April.   A sample field test REFUSAL letter is included in this post if you did not include field tests in your state test refusal for the state tests in April.  Even if you did include refusal of field testing previously, I recommend sending a reminder letter if your child’s school/grade is scheduled to participate in field testing.

Students in the Kingston City School District will be asked to take field tests as follows:

  • Chambers (620600010011) – grade 3 ELA
  • Crosby (620600010015) – grade 3 ELA and grade 4 ELA
  • Myer (620600010013) – grade 3 Math and grade 4 Math
  • George Washington (620600010012) – grade 4 ELA
  • Edson (620600010024) – grade 3 Math
  • JFK (620600010014) – grade 3 ELA and grade 4 ELA
  • Graves (620600010017) – grade 3 ELA
  • Bailey (620600010020) – grade 7 ELA and grade 8 ELA
  • Miller (620600010025) – grade 6 ELA and grade 7 ELA
  • KHS (620600010022) – Geometry, PS/Earth Science and Algebra 2/Trigonometry

Full schedules available here

Here is the field testing that KCSD students were asked to do last year.

A New Paradigm For Accountability

Those who are proponents of Common Core often argue that we can not get rid of it because “what would we do instead?”

I have heard a number of good suggestions and this one particularly caught my imagination today so I would like to share Diane Ravitch’s suggestion with you.

She begins with a quick explanation of what utter failures No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have been (click here if you wish to read about the failures) but then moves to imagining how things could be with this new accountability system.

I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.

The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:

How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?

How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?

How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?

How many public performances did the school offer?

How many children participated in dramatics?

How many children produced documentaries or videos?

How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?

How many children learned robotics?

How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?

How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?

How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?

How many children performed service in their community to help others?

How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?

How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?

Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?

Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.

My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.

– from “My New Paradigm For Accountability”, Diane Ravitch’s blog, November 12, 2014

The thought of this new system makes me want to dance – I can just imagine the joy and excitement that would fill the school halls!  What do you think?  Would your student be excited to attend a school using this accountability system?

Education transform

Refusing the New York State tests and potential impact on Kingston Honors courses

Our family struggled long and hard with the decision as to whether Julia, our 7th grader, would refuse the state tests this year. Julia had kids signing a petition against the tests last year and she has been wearing green laces (Lace to the Top) for a year so she is personally concerned about issues related to testing. I have also been concerned by many issues related to high-stakes testing. Our family’s primary reluctance has been the issue of placing stress on the child to have to practice civil disobedience in refusing the tests. With the assurances from the Kingston school district the week before ELA testing was to begin that pressure would not be placed on the students to sit and stare and the expected extensions of that philosophy into treating all refusing students with consideration and respect throughout the testing time, we decided to refuse the tests.

Green Laces

I am very happy to report that other than having to spend 9 hours last week sitting in the Bailey auditorium (3 hours on each of the 3 days of testing), the testing week went smoothly for Julia.  She loves to read and passed the time with her books although having to sit in the same spot for 3 hours is hard for anyone and I feel for the staff who were overseeing the approximately 180 students on day 1 of testing in the auditorium and over 200 students on days 2 and 3.  Julia said that some students did not remember to bring books with them to read so I am not sure how they kept themselves occupied.

One question that was not answered before the testing began was what impact, if any, refusing the state tests might have on Julia’s ability to participate in honors courses next year.  I submitted the question to the district via the new Let’s Talk application when it was introduced last Tuesday April 1, 2014 and received the following answer in my e-mail today April 9, 2014.

Question: What impact will my daughter’s refusing the state tests have on her ability to participate in honors courses next year?

Answer:
Students may opt of state tests and still be selected to participate in honors courses; however, sitting for state exams and achieving a high score can help students better their chances of being chosen for the honors program.
In English Language Arts, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 7 criterion:
1) 7th Grade ELA test score
2) 8th Grade ELA test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
7) Honors Essay

In Math and Science, students must meet KCSD standards in 5 of 6 criterion*:
1) 7th Grade Math/Science test scores
2) 8th Grade Math/Science test score
3) Report Card average over 92 percent
4) STAR assessment
5) Guidance recommendation
6) Teacher recommendation
*Math and Science are separate courses