Standardized tests

Standardized tests

Florida Schools Should Quit Focusing on Grades to Evaluate Success

Continuing its streak for not being accountable, the Florida Department of Education recently announced that it incorrectly graded hundreds of schools across the state. In fact, 40 out of 60 school districts in the state were affected by this miscalculation of grades.

This error occurred when the FDOE omitted one part of the newly revised and very complex grading formula that is used to evaluate the schools. Since the error was discovered, the grades have been corrected, resulting in 116 schools seeing their grades increase from a B to an A, 55 seeing their grades increased from a C to a B, and 35 schools seeing their grades increase from a D to a C.

School grades are important to students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators, and the community,” said Gerard Robinson, Commissioner of Education. “And, while I am pleased that the continuous review process has resulted in better grades, we will continue to look for ways to improve the grade calculation process.”

The school grades are based mainly on a standardized test that focuses on reading, writing, math, and science called the FCAT. The results of these grades are used for a number of purposes, including determining which schools receive financial rewards. However, many people are saying this test is too rigorous for most students and that students might feel too discouraged after taking it.

Rick Roach, an educator who took the FCAT and did not pass, made his results public.

“It seems to me something is seriously wrong here,” he said about the test. “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.”

Roach currently has two master’s degrees and is a member of the Orange County School Board.

So, it seems that perhaps the Florida Department of Education should take a look at what it has been doing lately, concerning standardized tests and grading of schools in the state. Perhaps grades are not all they are cracked up to be.

“Moving forward, we need to focus our attention on the quality of the work produced and student achievement, not just a letter grade,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Via The Huffington Post

Also Read:

Students in Florida Attend Virtual Schools with No Teachers

It’s the End of No Child Left Behind: Now What?

Later Start Times in High School Would Help Student Performance



Later Start Times in High Schools Would Help Student Performance

I remember when I first started college, I was shocked that none of my classes started until 10:00am. It was a great change from high school, when my first class began at 7:50am. I was also very excited because this later starting time meant I would get to sleep in later in the mornings. Score!

Evidently I was not the only one who thought that high schools start a little too early. A few years ago, Finley Edwards, a student at Colby College, began a study concerning the starting times of high schools and how well students do in school. He was inspired by his little sister’s early mornings: she woke up at 6:30 each day and class started at 7:15.

“I thought that this couldn’t possibly be good,” he recalls. Sadly, there wasn’t any previous research available for Edwards to read about this subject, so he decided to make his own. Now, he has found that “start times really do matter. We can see clear increases of academic performance from just starting school later.” Read the rest of this entry »



The Future of College Admissions: SAT, ACT, and Admissions Rates

Many students think of the ACT and SAT as tests they have to take to get into college. They study a little bit, take the test, and then apply to the schools where their scores are deemed acceptable. However, the world of college admissions is changing and these tests might not hold as much sway in the future.

Currently, there are 850 colleges and universities in the USA that have an SAT/ACT optional admissions policy. This means that students do not have to take these standardized tests in order to be accepted. Some of the schools that have adopted this policy include Indiana State University, Johnson & Wales University, and Kansas State University.

Some people are in favor of this new trend concerning college admissions because they argue that the tests are “a cocktail of trickery [that do not allow] enough time, and [require] idiosyncratic ways of thinking,” as Anthony Russomanno of the Princeton Review said. The SAT and ACT were originally designed to create a bell-curve distribution of test scores, but opponents say that this does not prove the tests are fair. Instead, they say that the tests would be fair if students could study for them in a similar way that students can study for other tests, such as AP and IB exams. Read the rest of this entry »



New York Releases Ratings of Individual Teachers

In a controversial move, the New York City Department of Education recently released information concerning individual teachers in the district and their ratings, based on a value-added analysis. This analysis was used to determine how effective each teacher is at helping students improve on standardized tests. More than 12,000 teachers’ ratings were released and of the teachers taught either English or math for students between fourth and eight grade.

Some people are quite upset by this release of data. The United Federation of Teachers has started an advertising campaign and is placing ads in newspapers across New York City. The ads state “This is No Way to Rate a Teacher!” and show a complicated math formula that is supposedly used to rate the teachers. The ads also feature a letter from the organization’s president, Michael Mulgrew, in which the president outlines all of the reasons why the data is faulty and should not be relied on. Read the rest of this entry »



Did This Principal Make a Racist Comment or Simply State the Facts?

germantown pricipal

Dr. Ted Hornell

In a nation where we are extremely concerned with being politically correct, it blows my mind that a principal at a high school in Tennessee would be as crass to say that a specific ethnic group of students was “less smart” than its peers. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Ted Horrell, the principal of Germantown High School, said earlier this month about the black students at his school.

“I unintentionally offended a number of students on this campus,” Horrell wrote in a letter to the parents and students of his school. “I apologize to all the students and parents who were offended.”

The high school recently received its state report card. This report card showed the students standardized test scores broken down according to the students’ races and incomes. Last week, the school held an assembly to discuss measures that could be taken to close the gap between the different groups of students, and it was during this assembly that Horrell misspoke and said what many considered to be a racist comment.

“[My daughter] felt he presented this information to basically reflect the African American students were all the reason the scores were down,” said Deborah Cannon, a parent whose child attends the high school.

Horrell says that he did make note of the fact that certain ethnic groups of students had performed better on the test than others during the assembly; however, he says he “certainly didn’t say that white students are smarter than black students.”

Nationwide, there is an achievement gap between different ethnic groups. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 9 percent of white students were performing at their grade level’s expectations in fourth-grade math, compared to only 1 percent of black students and 2 percent of Hispanic students.

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D.C. to Review High Rates of Erasures on School Tests

Irregularities in public school test scores are set to be investigated by the District of Columbia’s Board of Education. The tests showed an unusually high rate of erasures- answers being erased and changed from wrong to right.

Former chancellor Michelle Rhee defended the integrity of the tests. She claims that the test scores are real and the investigation insults the dedication of teachers and children that worked hard to improve their academic achievement levels.

USA Today held its own investigation that lasted several months. During this investigation, 103 public schools in Washington, D.C. showed a high number of answers that had been changed from wrong to right. USA Today found that since 2008, more than half of the schools in D.C. were flagged for having high erasure rates with answers being changed to the correct ones. In one school, the erasures in one class were so high, the odds of winning the Powerball lottery were better than the erasures occurring by chance.

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Atlanta Schools Cheat to Improve Public Image

What would you do if your teacher offered you assistance on a standardized test? I have never been in this situation, and I am very thankful for that, but many students in Atlanta’s public school system have been and the whistle was blown on this systematic cheating scandal in early July, 2011.

On July 5, 2011, a state investigation was released. This investigation showed that there had been rampant, systematic cheating on test scores in Atlanta’s public schools for the past several years. The cheating was wide-spread throughout the district and involved 44 schools and at least 178 teachers and principals. This cheating possibly occurred due to pressures to raise the schools’ public images as a long-trouble district or in order to meet standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act.

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Advanced Placement May Not be so Advanced

Inflated resumes for college applications are a trend of the current age. Students are forced to compete with the best of the best and spend most of their high school careers building their appeal. With college application rates soaring and less students being accepted, the pressure is growing for high school hopefuls. Advanced Placement courses were created for students performing at superior levels and soon became a status symbol on applications. But with more and more students taking these exclusive classes questions are raised about the validity of the course content as “advanced”.

Since the creation of Advanced Placement courses there has been no significant increase in high school standardized testing scores. It would seem that students studying more rigorous material would score higher than their counter-parts in “average” classrooms. A recent study by the Federal Department of Education demonstrates that participation in Advanced Placement coursework does not indicate a measureable higher level of learning for most students.

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Standardized Tests Finally to Receive Overhaul

new-standardized-testsIt appears that bubbles will be banished in the new system of standardized testing. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced yesterday that the new state standardized tests will be computer-based, to better evaluate students ability to synthesize information and conduct research projects. “The use of smarter technology in assessments,” Mr. Duncan explains, “makes it possible to assess students by asking them to design products of experiments, to manipulate parameters, run tests and record data.”

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Princeton Review Offers Discounts for Classroom and LiveOnline Courses

princeton review

This offer is expired. See current offers from The Princeton Review here.

The Princeton Review recently declared March 20th National Testing Day and offered free ACT, SAT, and PSAT practice tests to anyone who signed up. It was a great opportunity for students to become more familiar with the nerve racking tests and to find out which areas they struggled with the most.

Students who study with the Princeton Review are guaranteed to see results after studying with expert instructors and comprehensive study materials. The Princeton Review has small class sizes to guarantee personalized attention and customized courses to make sure you can attend a course at a time that is convenient for you.

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