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April Review / May Preview

April 30, 2013

April on this blog can be summed up in one word: testing. To be blunt, it hasn’t gone well. For all the money the state spends on testing … for all the inauthentic teaching that occurs to prepare students for the tests … for all the things we sacrifice to make sure everything goes smoothly – all we ask for in return is competence.

A valid test is one that measures what it says it measures. A reliable test is one in which the results are good in any situation. Oklahoma’s tests – especially the online tests – have failed on both counts. Understandably, students, parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents alike are not impressed. The process, the cost, and the absolute waste of time are simply offensive.

Here are the top five posts from April:

  1. You Must Be Kidding Me – Within about three hours of posting this, it was already the most viewed post ever on this blog. I’m typically pleased when a post gets 300 hits. This one has quickly gone over 3,000. The juxtaposition of CTB’s ineptness alongside the SDE’s insistence that school districts proceed with data collection as if everything were normal elicited quite a visceral reaction. Learning then that the same thing was happening in Indiana made it even worse.
  2. Republican Angst over the Common Core – Nationally, as well as in Oklahoma, the Republican Party is ready to implode over the Common Core. Complaints range from anti-Obama backlash to fears that the UN is going to take over our schools. Those fringe concerns notwithstanding, I am starting to doubt we’ll get to the finish line with all the major players (including PARCC) intact by the announced 2014-15 deadline.
  3. Testing to the Teach – For some reason last week, Superintendent Barresi came to the conclusion that we may be over-testing the kids. I honestly don’t know whether to say “welcome to the party,” or “sorry, you had your chance…it’s too late.” Suffice it to say that her words are empty at this point. Those of us who send children to school, as well as those of us who educate them, want to see a meaningful change.
  4. Game On – Imagine trying to run a large state agency – the one that oversees the operation of the activity for which the majority of the state’s tax dollars are spent – and then finding out that one of your board members is resigning to run against you in the next primary. That happened last week. And while I’m excited for the chaos, I can’t tell you I have enough information about Joy Hofmeister to say that she should be the next state superintendent. I know she has a history of standing up to Barresi, and I respect the hell out of that, though.
  5. None of the Above / Errata Notice – These two posts tied for the fifth spot and were pretty much mirror commentaries on some of the problems districts faced early in the testing cycle. Compared to what happened yesterday, these were minor nuisances.

May figures to bring more testing problems, with an added focus on funding issues. The legislature is set to vote any day on a tax cut that will benefit the typical family only minimally. It will provide yet another crushing blow to the funding formula for public education. Hold on to your hats, people.

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