Re: reporter wants to know...
- Subject: Re: reporter wants to know...
- From: Tom and Lisa Amspaugh <amspaugh@EXCELONLINE.COM>
- Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 12:10:07 -0700
- In-reply-to: <394BD995.22710E29@pyramid.net>
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
I struggle with how we should fight this fight. I'm not sure education is
the answer, although we have to do it whenever possible. I just don't think
it's the weapon that will win the battle. The simple fact is that most
people glide along on the surface, and are not going to understand, or care
about the bigger implications and details that we talk about here. To change
this we need to change public opinion. As long as the public wants it, the
politicians want it, good or bad outcomes doesn't really matter to them.
Getting reelected is the only thing that matters.
I think the public in general is against high stakes testing. It's just a
dumb idea to use one measure when many are logically and fairly more
accurate. The message I've been using is that one test can't be as accurate
a measure as using tests plus other assessments, that politicians are merely
using our children to stand on the platform and declare they are raising
standards, against all reasonable education practice and the recommendations
of the test makers themselves. I've developed the analogy to medicine. Used
correctly medicine can be life saving, used incorrectly, it can be fatal.
They are using the tests in a fatal manner that is simply harming our
children and real learning.
It doesn't take much deep thought to realize that if you over emphasize one
test, bad things are going to happen like cheating, teaching only to pass a
test, too much pressure on the kids, etc. There's a small segment that wants
to know the details, but we need more than them to win.
We have a criterion referenced test here. But it's so bad nearly 80% of the
system would have failed had they not lowered the cut scores to below the
chance level. Their claim, everyone passed. And nearly everyone did. It's
easy to fool the public if you're sneaky and underhanded, and tell them what
they want to hear.
Using the test questions themselves is a great idea to show how ridiculous
and dangerous one measure can be. However, there's danger in talking about
the test itself, in that the answer for many may just be to refine the
questions. It's the idea itself, how ridiculous it is that I believe we need
It's a simple message for a mass of people who is going to think in simple
terms. A fair assessment of performance is always based on multiple factors
for adults in the workplace, and it should be so for our children. It
doesn't matter if it's norm reference or criterion referenced, a test
shouldn't be the only factor.
I honestly don't believe most of the people in power making these decisions
even think it's a good idea. I think most of them already know it's not,
they just don't care because it's popular. I've seen enough of what has
happened here to believe that with all my heart. Facts didn't matter. We
educated and educated, undisputed really in what we showed them. Politics
won, children lost.
The headway we've made is because we riled up the masses into seeing
politicians are simply using their children to institute policies with no
track record for success and serious side effects.
Individual student examples were the most effective. There's no substitute
for the human face on this policy debate.
I guess I'm saying that I don't think the answer lies in changing the minds
of the "powers that be", it will happen when we outrage the average parent
that their children are being unfairly evaluated and manipulated so
politicians can have great campaign slogans.
Part of the message
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List
Behalf Of Michelle Trusty-Murphy
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 1:04 PM
Subject: Re: reporter wants to know...
I believe this IS a developmental educational perspective--I don't intend to
simply publish test results--I also intend to provide those who take the
with the answers when they are done and a discussion of why those answers
correct. I think it would also be helpful to give them a list of basic
questions that should be asked about all standardized testing, why those
questions should be asked, and a glossary of terms in plain English (Perhaps
we should also have the same packet in plain Spanish).
We must be very careful that test questions are about accepted and agreed
upon basic principals of psychometrics--not opinions or political
perspectives. We must also make sure that materials we provide are as
objective as possible.
Let's let the leaders of educational reform find out the limitations of
standardized examinations themselves (there is a reason test companies say
you should not make decisions based upon a test!!). Give these leaders the
tools to ask the questions, the knowledge to know that one measurement scale
does not an education system make, and then let's let them draw their own
conclusions. They are, I believe, smart and capable people--they are just
busy. They rely too much on what "trusted advisors" tell them because they
often do not have the time to commit to self-education, research, and
Yes, some can't be convinced of anything but what they are doing--but when
arm a few with the knowledge to ask the questions that need to be
asked--perhaps they can be educated by example. Right now, they are not
asking any questions because they don't know what they need to learn, and
they have never looked beyond their "test consultants" for answers.
I think your educational campaign is wonderful, but considering the egos of
most candidates and office holders, they are not very open to education
they realize they don't have all the answers. If the leaders themselves
that information, I believe the outcome of such a campaign would be much
powerful than information or education dished up by a stranger.
I believe that ignorance is our single greatest enemy. As long as we let
testing companies and internal test administrators do the educating, we are
doomed. When those leaders look beyond the end of their proverbial nose, we
have started to make headway toward Fair and Open Testing, different
assessment models, and the open communication that is essential to these
I don't think all tests are bad. Tests used to actively promote educational
goals can be wonderful tools. Simple assessment is not the intention of my
deborah gilman wrote:
> Yes, this would illustrate a point. But, it is a power play.
> It would cause those people in positions of power who we are hoping
> to "educate"... or change their perspectives, to retaliate, possibly,
> with stronger positions toward their dependence on standardized
> tests. If you have been in the classroom and worked with these
> people, as well as with students, I know you understand that what you
> propose may have the opposite effect of what you say you wish to
> do... change the trend of governing bodies misuse of testing and
> accountability. I want this abuse of testing stopped, too. I am
> going to do everything I can to reinform educational communities and
> introduce alternative assessments. Publishing the dialogue of
> meetings where these example tests are given and the comments of the
> participants after they have experienced the "tests", where the
> participants voluntarily give their understandings after the
> experiment... this might be a stronger statement to the public than
> if test results are just handed over to the press... a change of
> heart (perspective) of the powers-that-be might also achieve buy-in
> from them.
> OK, maybe I am naive. But I have learned that power plays
> beget power plays. I'd rather approach things from a developmental
> education perspective.
> Deb Gilman
> Graduate Student, Curriculum and Instruction
> College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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