In response to the 11/2/2012 post, “Accountability – A Reasonable Plan – Part 1,” an old school LYSer writes:

SC,

I’ll follow your format and respond to your clarifications point by point.

Point 1 – Too Much Testing: I too, like EOC’s and agree we have to test the prescribed curriculum.  Electronic testing would require a huge investment in school technology and infrastructure. This is a problem since the state cut the technology allotment.  And we agree that most of the testing issues arise from administrative rules from the state: small group testing; the prohibition from testing students taking the alternative test in the same room as the regular test, and it goes on and on.

SC – I’m not so sure that the electronic testing option is as cost prohibitive today as it was yesterday.  Defensive driving courses are available to anyone on-line at this time and all that is required is a device and a connection.  As for a state investment in technology, over time the on-line testing would quickly pay for itself.  Pearson may not make $500,000,000.00 on the next testing contract, but call me an optimist, I’m sure they will find a way to stay afloat.

Point 2 – An Irrelevant Curriculum: As I mention in point one, if there is a prescribed curriculum, we should assess that curriculum. 

SC – I’ll take this one step further.  If we have a prescribed curriculum and we do not assess it, then in practice we do not have a prescribed curriculum. Instead what we have is a poorly implemented or completely ignored suggestion.

Point 3 – The One-Shot, High Stakes Test: Agreed. I would suggest a spring test, summer retest, and October retest.  That gives the school and the parent plenty of time for instructional interventions.  If I only had two shots it needs to be spring and October.  Some parents refuse to allow their children to attend summer school. That’s a fact of life that schools can do nothing about.  If the student passes any of the three, it counts as a pass for the school. 

SC – We could argue the details of timing until the cows come home.  What is important is that we agree that a no penalty re-test is reasonable and do-able.  Electronic testing would actually facilitate more immediate and focused interventions and reduce the time window between the original test and the re-test.  This is important because the longer the student is trapped in a remediation loop, the further he/she fall behind his/her peers.

Point 4 – An Arbitrary Exemption: Agreed and well stated.

Point 5 – The Standardized Test: Agreed. If there is a way to get Pearson out of our testing business, even better.  Let’s have a standards based test instead of a standardized test.  We could even have a statewide teacher developed question bank for each Student Expectation, built on the model used in the LYS Curriculum Based Assessment process.

Point 6 – You are Only as Good as Your Weakest Link: Agreed again. Yes, a workable solution to this is the Cain Solution: schools get weighting for their populations.  The 90% level for a district like Southlake-Carroll is hardly a challenge. They are already there in all sub-pops (the critical attribute of an affluent minority student is affluent, not minority). The 90% level in most schools would take substantially more work.  This should be reflected in the accountability rating. 

SC – And the accountability system in its current format penalizes the at-risk school while allowing the non at-risk school to simply maintain the status quo. We need a system that forces every school to step-up its game.

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