The discussions about "big data" are receiving pushback who believe the conclusions are erroneous. Note that this is tied up in learning analytics as well. "Cuzzillo is joined by a growing chorus of critics that challenge some of the breathless pronouncements of big data enthusiasts. Specifically, it looks like the backlash theme-of-the-month is correlation vs. causation, possibly in reaction to the success of Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s recent big data book in which they argued for dispensing “with a reliance on causation in favor of correlation”"
Diane Ravitch calls it. Read her blog post on this major ethical issue. I think we need an independent testing company. Isn't there a conflict of interest here when a company creates textbooks and the test? "I am an 8th grade teacher in Xxxx, NY. On Day 1 of the NYS ELA 8 Exam, I discovered what I believe to be a huge ethical flaw in the State test. The state test included a passage on why leaves change color that is included in the Pearson-generated NYS ELA 8 text. I taught it in my class just last week. In a test with 6 passages and questions to complete in 90 minutes, it was a huge advantage to students fortunate enough to use a Pearson text and not that of a rival publisher. It may very well have an impact on student test scores. This has not yet received any attention in the press. Could you help me bring this to the attention of the public?"
Great article by Larry Cuban on the Washington Post that you should forward to principals. "Yet studies of principal behavior in schools makes clear that spending time in classrooms to observe, monitor, and evaluate classroom lessons do not necessarily lead to better teaching or higher student achievement on standardized tests. Where there is a correlation between principals’ influence on teachers and student performance, it occurs when principals create and sustain an academic ethos in the school, organize instruction across the school, and align school lessons to district standards and standardized test items. There is hardly any positive association between principals walking in and out of classrooms a half-dozen times a day and conferring briefly with teaches about those five-minute visits.The reality of daily principal actions conflicts with the theory."
Disgusting. Via the Washington Post So many things going wrong. "Talk about corporate-based school reform. New high-stakes standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards are featuring plugs for commercial products. And the companies didn’t have to pay a penny. Yes, New York state students who this past week took Pearson-designed exams were just treated to plugs for LEGO, Mug Root Beer and more products from at least half a dozen companies, according to the New York Post."
Tests are important. They should be accurate. Not only should they be audited, but I think that districts should have a pre-look at tests and strike questions that aren't taught to kids. It isn't fair to the kids to be tested on material they aren't taught. "Thousands of students were incorrectly told they weren't eligible for the city's gifted-and-talented public-school program due to errors by the testing company, city officials said Friday. The errors affected 4,735 children, or 13.2% of test takers, who are now eligible for gifted programs, including 2,037 students who are newly eligible for elite schools that accept students from across the city who scored in the 97th percentile or above. Test maker Pearson PSON.LN +0.09% PLC discovered the errors after two parents last week took their concerns about the scoring to Department of Education officials. The British-based company found it made an error on the students' ages and two errors in calculating their scores."