Home > Uncategorized > Why I support replacing the EOIs with the ACT (Part III)

Why I support replacing the EOIs with the ACT (Part III)

March 6, 2015

So far, I’ve written about ten reasons why we should dump the EOIs and use the ACT as our high school test. You want the ubiquitous College and Career Readiness? It’s there; both higher education and career tech can make use of the results. You want to preserve instructional time in schools, save parents and the state money, and improve critical relationships? We can do that too.

Still, I keep getting questions, and the answers aren’t all easy. You see, punting the EOIs and running with the ACT is not a perfect choice. No such thing exists.

Here are the ten reasons I gave for making this switch in Part I

  1. Students don’t care about the EOIs.
  2. Colleges don’t care about the EOIs either.
  3. This measure would save Oklahoma families money.
  4. This measure would save the state money.
  5. The ACT would fulfill NCLB requirements.

    …and Part II of the series.

  6. Counselors would have more time to be counselors.
  7. Teachers would have more time to be teachers.
  8. The ACT unites K-12, Higher Ed, and Career Tech.
  9. Feedback will be timely .
  10. Schools can quit begging for volunteers during testing season.

On the flip side, I tend to get these five arguments against doing this pretty consistently:

  • ACT is Common Core – This is false. ACT is a test that is aligned both to its own college readiness standards and the Common Core. The truth is that a single test question can be aligned to multiple standards. ACT has always paid attention to state standards. Half the country is still using the Common Core, and ACT is responsive to the marketplace. I have no problem with this.
  • ACT is too closely aligned with Pearson – At this point, who isn’t? It’s true that Pearson makes a ton of profit from testing. They also make a ton of profit from textbooks, online instruction, educational software, and probably the air we breathe. Yes, ACT is running their Aspire assessment program (3rd through 8th grade) off of a platform developed by Pearson. Paying for every student in the state to take an ACT wouldn’t really be padding Pearson’s pockets anyway. Tests on the national test date are still paper/pencil tests. Most Oklahoma high school students will take the ACT at least once anyway. We’re not going to make Pearson go broke by boycotting the ACT – no more than we’re going to make the Oklahoman go broke by – oh wait, too close to call on that one! As much as I want the Gates Foundation out of education policy, I’m also not going to make Microsoft go broke by switching from a Windows computer to a Mac – just my school district.
  • Some kids aren’t going to college – This is also true. The problem is that I can’t look at them and know which ones. Sometimes, I can’t even talk to them and know. They don’t always know themselves. I propose giving all students an ACT during their sophomore year (some are suggesting the junior year) because it would give parents and counselors something to look at in terms of course selection. It also might ignite the interest of a student who didn’t know he/she would score so well. Taking the ACT doesn’t obligate a student to go to college. It just puts a number on the table that may help people make some decisions about the future before the future is right in their faces.
  • The ACT doesn’t have science and social studies sections – Again, this is true. I know some of the people who loved me when I was fighting for APUSH a few weeks ago will despise me saying this, but I really don’t care if we test in those subject areas. I think the teachers benefit from not having their subject area tested. It gives them a better chance to focus on the students and the standards – all the standards. It goes back to my first two points above. If the students don’t care about the results and the colleges don’t care about the results, then what are we testing for?
  • The science reasoning of the ACT doesn’t align well enough to course content to meet NCLB requirements – This may be the most valid of the five points. Federal statutes say nothing about testing social studies.

NCLB required assessments

The way I see it, Oklahoma would have two options to meet this requirement if we replaced the EOIs with the ACT: (a) Explore the extent to which ACT’s standards align to Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science and submit this analysis to the feds with our updated waiver request; or (b) develop a separate science test (basically, keep using the Biology I assessment we have in place now). This could be a road bump, but it is far from a dead end. Ultimately, I don’t know how much a Biology test that most students have to take in ninth or tenth grade says about their readiness for high school graduation or college entrance. This is one of the massive problems with No Child Left Behind and the main reason we should be working together as a state to minimize the damage it brings to our students and schools.

With the last several posts on this blog (save one calling for a no vote on a voucher bill), I have been trying to make a case, more or less for supporting SB 707. Nowhere does the bill specify that ACT will be our high school testing vendor. Most people I talk to read it that way. Still, the process would include multiple state agencies and public hearings – real ones this time. Recommendations would be made in 2016, and implementation would begin during the 2017-18 school year. This is not a rush job. It’s also not a rock to which we are chaining ourselves. Should the vendor fail to meet our expectations, we can fire them. The legislation can change the law at any time.

That’s why I support this bill – and pretty much by default, replacing the EOIs with the ACT. It passed through the Senate Committee on Education by a vote of 11-1. It passed through the Committee on Appropriations by a vote of 37-6 (yes, nearly the full Senate serves on that committee). It sounds like a done deal, at least in the Legislature’s upper chamber, right?

Keep calling. You can never tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. J.Burch
    March 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Just and FYI but the ACT does have a science portion. This portion of the score is the one area in which Oklahoma education excels. Far fewer students require remediation at the college level in science than in the other subjects.

    Like

    • March 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      You make a good point, and I could have stated that more clearly. Yes, the ACT has a science reasoning section. It’s not aligned to a single course (such as chemistry, biology, etc.) so there is a question about whether the feds would let us write that into our waiver. I say we should try it. If it doesn’t fly, well we already have a Biology I test that we can use.

      On the other hand, right now, our Biology I assessment is still aligned to PASS, not the newly adopted OAS for science. I guess technically, we’re already out of compliance.

      Like

  2. Mark
    March 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    This is SOO true but our state is SOO SLO that we can’t make a superior decision. Especially one that requires grit and/or determination.
    The ACT would save our schools but then we couldn’t “fail” and transfer our public school money to private and charter schools. (Where our state leaders want to go)
    The EOI was never the real objective.
    Just like the yearly headlines touting raises for teachers that never, ever happen. and won’t.
    A teacher in Oklahoma with 35 years experience will never make even the beginning salary of a level 1 highway patrolman.rookie. We’re not stupid.
    Oklahoma is #1 in the nation in some things…..like cuts to education two years in a row.

    Like

  3. Politics
    March 8, 2015 at 7:00 am

    So if you agree that for your 10 good reasons there are also 10 equally bad or in my opinion WORSE reasons continued with ACT, what’s the point?

    Mostly, the false deception that ACT is anything better. It’s just different!

    So for that reason I as a parent think there is one solution, STOP and do a complete U turn not continue experimenting with impressionable children as guniea pigs in a corporate deforming system that is nothing but utter chaos.

    Maybe American’s should begin by not compromising, by simply saying NO!
    We should be demanding nothing but the very best for our future and revolt AGAINST all of this Pearson nonsense. Just like NY and many other states where it has already been proven to FAIL!!!

    How about some real diagnostic test? Something that actually means something? Something NOT created by a corporate reform group of UN elites and policy makers?

    Like

    • March 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Your math is off. I came up with 10 good reasons to make this change and 5 reasons of varying merit not to make it. Some are the by-product of fear-mongering and paranoia. Only the fifth reason really holds up in my mind, and there are workarounds.

      Your fixation on Pearson and the UN are disturbing. The people who want to make this change don’t care about whether ACT uses Pearson as a platform for service delivery or not. The UN has nothing to do with this. I just don’t even know what to say to that.

      Like

  4. Yahoovie
    March 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I think you were better just bashing the old superintendent… I’m having a hard time finding any logical argument in your post. I see inconsistent commentary. I see straw men. I see false compromise. I see confirmation bias. I even see an ecological fallacy in there. This is borderline kettle logic. ACT isn’t perfect – but let’s do it anyway! False dilemma anyone?

    Now that CCOSA is running things I guess administrators will just be able to do whatever they want. For crying out loud – copy editing is your friend.

    Like

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: