Monday, March 30, 2015

Chipping Away

While a lot of anti-PARCC/SBAC/Common Core testing argument justifiably is attacking the roots of the testing problem, I do think an effective line of attack is to ask again and again why -- exactly -- we need to give third graders significantly longer tests than the SAT or college placement exams. The SAT is 3 hours and 45 minutes. Accuplacer, the "college readiness" test used by actual colleges to place kids in regular or remedial courses is untimed, but the College Board notes that each of the 6 English and math sections generally takes 15 to 30 minutes, so an hour and a half to three hours for most kids in total.

In particular, I'd strongly encourage anyone who has been spending time with the PARCC, SBAC or any other Common Core sample tests, to look at the Accuplacer sample questions. I'm not saying Accuplacer is great, but a lot of the questions look as easy or easier than many middle school Common Core questions. I'd love to see a comparison by someone who has been spending more time with the Common Core sample items.

Of course, the risk is we'd win the argument and just get shorter high-stakes tests or, god forbid, and 8 hour SAT. I think it is good ground for us to fight on, however, and helps to undermine the credibility of the entire testing regime. Seriously, if 3-4 hours of testing is enough to classify an 18 year old going to college, why is it not enough for a 9 year old? I don't think there is a good answer to that question.


Unknown said...

I respectfully agree.

Jason said...

I think this is a combination of two mistakes with PARCC:
1) An attempt to provide more standards-based feedback than high-level concepts and spans.
2) Not having a CAT, which could be far more efficient at having a stable measure of achievement.

I would prefer to move away from (1) on state standardized assessment and use the features of (2) to get school and district-level standards-based feedback alongside measures of student overall achievement with summative exams.

Student-level standards-based stuff can be covered by district purchased interim assessments that are shorter, more focused, and often not required.