Kentuckians are well aware that “Performance” type testing creates all sorts of chaos for schools and students. It simply takes forever to grade this “stuff,” so results always come back too late.
Kentucky now has a state law requiring testing be conducted near the end of the school year. As a consequence, the state’s KPREP test results have not come back to schools, parents and the public until well after the start of the following school term. That is a real problem for Kentucky teachers trying to make changes based on the results. Instead of a calm curriculum adjustment before kids return to class, Bluegrass State teachers are forced to make changes on the fly (if they even bother) while facing a heavy burden of an active teaching schedule.
Now, as a new Education Week article points out, new common core tests from two national testing consortia, universally known today from their initials as the PARCC and SBAC groups, are causing chaos in a somewhat different way. In an attempt to get scores back before school ends, other states are about to find out why Kentucky does not allow testing until the school year is nearly over. It could be a costly mistake.
Believe this or not, annual state testing is already starting in some of the testing consortia states. That is being done so that the results from the difficult-and-time-consuming-to-score Performance-based tests might be returned before the school year ends.
This approach is going to be a real problem in those states for several reasons:
• Teachers and students will be judged on performance at a point scarcely more than half way through the school year. That’s a very incomplete picture.
• Kentucky requires testing near the end of the year for a reason; we learned that once testing is done, school essentially is over, too. With PARCC and SBAC testing so early, kids and teachers may be putting their feet up on desks a lot earlier than “senior week.” A school year supposed to be about 180 days long will turn into a much shorter effective time.
• Even if teachers try to instruct after testing ends, students are going to be much harder to motivate. Once again, the 180 day school year evaporates even if teachers do try to continue.
• In what will probably be very rare cases where both teachers and students do keep on track, no-one will know it. The testing is already over. Nothing done after the end of testing can be acknowledged by the assessment process.
So, here’s my big question: why is the rest of the nation repeating mistakes made in Kentucky two decades ago?
I’ll have more on that in a few days.