ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades

4 Jul

There have been a number of cheating scandals over the past couple of years. Benjamin Herold has a riveting blog post at The Notebook which describes itself as “An independent voice for parents, educators, students, and friends of Philadelphia Public Schools.” In the post, Confession of A Cheating Teacher Herold reports:

She said she knows she’s a good teacher.

But she still helped her students cheat.

“What I did was wrong, but I don’t feel guilty about it,” said a veteran Philadelphia English teacher who shared her story with the Notebook/NewsWorks.

During a series of recent interviews, the teacher said she regularly provided prohibited assistance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams to 11th graders at a city neighborhood high school. At various times, she said, she gave the students definitions for unfamiliar words, discussed with students reading passages they didn’t understand, and commented on their writing samples.

On a few occasions, she said, she even pointed them to the correct answers on difficult questions.

They’d have a hard time, and I’d break it down for them,” said the teacher matter-of-factly.

Such actions are possible grounds for termination. As a result, the Notebook/NewsWorks agreed to protect her identity.

The teacher came forward following the recent publication of a 2009 report that identified dozens of schools across Pennsylvania and Philadelphia that had statistically suspicious test results. Though her school was not among those flagged, she claims that adult cheating there was “rampant.”

The Notebook/NewsWorks is also withholding the name of her former school. because the details of her account have been only partially corroborated.

But her story seems worth telling.

During multiple conversations with the Notebook/NewsWorks, both on the phone and in person, the teacher provided a detailed, consistent account of her own actions to abet cheating. Her compelling personal testimonial highlighted frequently shared concerns about the conditions that high-stakes testing have created in urban public schools. The Notebook and NewsWorks believe that her confession sheds important light on the recent spate of cheating scandals across the country….

She said she knows she’s a good teacher.

But she still helped her students cheat.

“What I did was wrong, but I don’t feel guilty about it,” said a veteran Philadelphia English teacher who shared her story with the Notebook/NewsWorks.

During a series of recent interviews, the teacher said she regularly provided prohibited assistance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams to 11th graders at a city neighborhood high school. At various times, she said, she gave the students definitions for unfamiliar words, discussed with students reading passages they didn’t understand, and commented on their writing samples.

On a few occasions, she said, she even pointed them to the correct answers on difficult questions.

They’d have a hard time, and I’d break it down for them,” said the teacher matter-of-factly.

Such actions are possible grounds for termination. As a result, the Notebook/NewsWorks agreed to protect her identity.

The teacher came forward following the recent publication of a 2009 report that identified dozens of schools across Pennsylvania and Philadelphia that had statistically suspicious test results. Though her school was not among those flagged, she claims that adult cheating there was “rampant.”

The Notebook/NewsWorks is also withholding the name of her former school. because the details of her account have been only partially corroborated.

But her story seems worth telling.

During multiple conversations with the Notebook/NewsWorks, both on the phone and in person, the teacher provided a detailed, consistent account of her own actions to abet cheating. Her compelling personal testimonial highlighted frequently shared concerns about the conditions that high-stakes testing have created in urban public schools. The Notebook and NewsWorks believe that her confession sheds important light on the recent spate of cheating scandals across the country.

One might ask what the confessions of a cheating teacher have to do with the announcement by ACT that they will begin offering a series of assessments to measure skills needed in high school and college. Although, it is in the early stage of development, one could question whether this assessment will turn into a high-stakes test with pressures on students, teachers, and schools. Admittedly, it is early.

Caralee Adams writes in the Education Week article, ACT to Roll Out Career and College Readiness Tests for 3rd-10th Grades:

ACT Inc. announced today that it is developing a new series of assessments for every grade level, from 3rd through 10th, to measure skills needed in college and careers.

The tests, which would be administered digitally and provide instant feedback to teachers, will be piloted in states this fall and scheduled to be launched in 2014, says Jon Erickson, the president of education for ACT, the Iowa City, Iowa-based nonprofit testing company.

The “next generation” assessment will be pegged to the Common Core State Standards and cover the four areas now on the ACT: English, reading, math, and science.

“It connects all the grades—elementary school through high school—to measure growth and development,” says Erickson. “It informs teaching, as students progress, to intervene at early ages.”

The assessment would look beyond academics to get a complete picture of the whole student, he says. There would be interest inventories for students, as well as assessment of behavioral skills for students and teachers to evaluate.

It will fill a niche as the first digital, longitudinal assessment to connect student performance across grades, both in and out of the classroom, according to the ACT. The hope is to get information on students’ weaknesses and strengths earlier so teachers can make adjustments to improve their chances of success.

ACT has not arrived at a cost for the assessment system, but it intends to offer it in modules for states, districts, or schools to buy to administer to all students. As a nonprofit organization, Erickson says ACT wants to keep pricing affordable and at the lowest price acceptable to states. Teachers could choose to use all or part of the assessment, likely in the classroom during the typical school day. ACT is still field-testing the system so the length of the assessment is not set.

With digital delivery of the test, students would have automatic scoring and real-time assessments, says Erickson. (There would be pencil-and-paper testing to accommodate schools that would not be equipped with computers.) The assessment would include a combination of multiple-choice, open-response, and interactive items that would incorporate some creativity into testing, he adds. It would be both formative and summative for accountability purposes….

Just how states might use the new assessment is uncertain. It could replace the current state test, be given as a lead-up to the test, or used as a supplement for it, he says.

ACT developed the test in response to needs expressed by states to improve college and career readiness, says Erickson. Providing integrated testing from elementary to high school, with the ACT as the capstone in 11th grade, “will be a game changer,” he adds. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/college_bound/2012/07/act_plans_to_roll_out_career_and_college_readiness_tests_for_3rd-10th_grades.html?intc=es

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. The testing straightjacket is strangling innovation and corrupting the system. Yes, there should be a way to measure results and people must be held accountable, but relying solely on tests, especially when not taking into consideration where different populations of children are when they arrive at school is lunacy.

Related:

Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/early-learning-standards-and-the-k-12-contiuum/

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’ https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

What , if anything, do education tests mean? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/what-if-anything-do-education-tests-mean/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©



12 Responses to “ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades”

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  1. What the ACT college readiness assessment means « drwilda - August 25, 2012

    […] There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. The testing straightjacket is strangling innovation and corrupting the system. Yes, there should be a way to measure results and people must be held accountable, but relying solely on tests, especially when not taking into consideration where different populations of children are when they arrive at school is lunacy. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/ […]

  2. Many NOT ready for higher education « drwilda - October 6, 2012

    […] ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades                                                    https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/ […]

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  5. Dishonesty on the part of adults in schools | drwilda - April 1, 2013

    […] One might ask what the confessions of a cheating teacher have to do with the announcement by ACT that they will begin offering a series of assessments to measure skills needed in high school and college. Although, it is in the early stage of development, one could question whether this assessment will turn into a high-stakes test with pressures on students, teachers, and schools. Admittedly, it is early. https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/ […]

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