In response to the 9/24//2013 post, “State Testing – Making a Success Out of a Mess,” a LYS Superintendent writes:

SC,

Actually, there may be a much larger problem with the state assessment system than you have described. 

Standardized testing can be broken into (if I recall the names correctly) two broad categories: achievement tests and aptitude tests.  Tests such as TAAS and TAKS were designed to be achievement tests.  That is, the TAAS and TAKS tests were intended to determine if a child had mastered grade level material.  There was really no problem with the TAKS test.  In fact I heard Willard Dagget call the TAKS test “pretty good” with my own two ears

Then you have aptitude tests, examples that can include IQ tests, perhaps portions of the SAT/ACT tests, etc.  I say perhaps the SAT/ACT because I suppose it is possible to have a blended achievement/aptitude test. 

Now I am no testing expert, but I have been following the university researcher versus Pearson debate going back and forth.  There are some studies from universities that indicate the STAAR test acts much more like an aptitude test than an achievement test.  The university researchers cited technical psychometric factors that appear in the STAAR testing.  I won’t pretend that I understood those factors, but I do understand Pearson’s response to those allegations: Pearson indicated those factors had to be accounted for.

Perhaps this explains why the year-to-year state averages on the STAAR test were flat, I don’t know.  I do know that I tend to trust university researchers far more than Pearson, for the obvious reason that Pearson has a business interest in the testing.

The point is, if the STAAR is an aptitude test, or is very close to being an aptitude test (blended?), the odds of significantly raising scores is very, very unlikely, particularly in older children.  That is the point the university researchers were trying to make, because when we talk aptitude we introduce another strong variable into the testing equation: genetic disposition.  Some people are born with more horsepower than others.

The debate continues.  I do know that the released 8th grade STAAR math test was harder than the 11th grade TAKS test.  I suspect that when the general public figures that out, we will see another testing backlash in 2015.  I think accountability is a great thing, but corporate greed and the desire of the far right to end public education is now making the broader public suspicious of accountability and high stakes testing.  I personally am beyond suspicious.

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