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Germantown School Board  

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It's not just Common core we need to watch out for...

coming soon...

They are not calling it Common Core...For good reason...But from the same actors

Next Generation Science Standards

APUSH - AP U.S. History guts U.S. History...​


Opt out... If 10% opt out it is over...

My take on the Smarter Balanced assessment

this is my opinion after viewing one 5th grade sample test...

I viewed the test a couple of days ago and this is what I found...

The first five questions were related to a story about two kids on a ship from Italy to the US and the problems associated with Sea sickness…This first part of the test was 
Unambiguous and what I would expect on an assessment of this type...
  Next were several questions associated with a story on the plight of the Hermit Crab and pollution in ocean… The next question asks them finish a story writing two paragraphs about the lost gerbil in the classroom
The next question is multiple choice and they are asked a question about a student opinion piece in which they are asking the teacher for the permission to keep healthy snacks in their desks…   Next they are asked to write three paragraphs about whether or not cell phones should be allowed in school… Next they are asked to read a paragraph about why physical education needs to be in schools each day and answer multiple choice question on this paragraph… Next they are asked to correct the punctuation in a sentence… Next they are asked to identify an incomplete sentence and correct it… Next they are asked to answer several questions about a video about a government green architect. At the end of the video directs the kids to go to to learn more about cool government jobs…You can check out the site for yourself and form your own opinion... The next series of questions follow a story about the sexism in LL Baseball.  Maria was not allowed to play with the boys and only allowed to keep score… Next you are asked to find the best fact for Jason to use to add to his story about Marsupials…after reading a very short story…
   Last you are asked to decide which opinion article is more appropriate for the school newspaper, using information from the articles on electronic devices in school to support your reasoning… If this is the best we can do…as a parent I find this incidious…as a teacher I would be disappointed in this test and any valuable information I might glean from the test…as an administrator I would be disturbed and as a school board member I am outraged…I think a teacher could come up with a better measure of a student’s performance in an hour.  They could evaluate and find the performance level of the students on a monthly basis…I know we can do better, and I support that we do…

See the sample tests for yourself...

A New Hampshire principal highlights teacher feedback on SBAC testing.

​This communication is to share the sentiment of the FMS staff as it relates to the Smarter Balance Test. As you know,our staff used the December Early Release to take this test with the goal that it would provide us with some insight howwe might incorporate the “common core” and the format of the Smarter Balance Test into our instructional practices. Webelieve that we successfully incorporated the NECAP Test format and GLEs into our teaching practices, especially in our“Bell Activities. “Although a few staff members shared that they believed that our test scores would improve over time, I was surprisedwith the responses from the FMS teachers when we gathered to debrief after taking the test. I was hopeful that we wouldhave teachers sharing test vocabulary, ideas for test taking, and strategies to help prepare our students for the 2015Smarter Balance Test. Instead, teachers shared frustrations they had when they were taking the test and disappointmentin test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test.The comments shared below come from successful dedicated veteran teachers. I have much respect for this staff and I not only appreciated the honesty of the staff in their response to the Smarter Balance Test; but, I am hopeful that the Nashua School District will accept these responses in a positive way and not look at the comments as “negative” or“unprofessional”.
The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.

Listed below are some of the concerns that were shared by our staff:

I feel sad for the students who have to take this test -- not many will be successful.
Much is said about “depersonalizing” information as part of a learning strategy. This is not how studentslearn.
There is too much “stuff” going on the screen at once. It is difficult to move the icons where you want them.
Students don’t know how to use the “mouse” everything for them is “tough screen”. If you leave the screen for a short period of time the information on the screen will be gone when you return.
“I tried the grade six-grade math---it was humbling. It was scary. I had technology problems. If kids have these problems they’ll just quit.
Double-wide monitors would help.
I am a huge fan of concept maps but notepad does not let you do that on Smarter Balance. You can’t even copyand paste from the notepad into the test.
This was more of a test on the computer skills than on the math concepts. If I was a student I would just pickout an answer and move on.
Too tedious—kids will get sick of it and just guess to move on.
Kids won’t even get past the computer directions.These are just a sample of the concerns that were raised at this meeting. We did shift to “what do we have to do from now until the spring of 2015 to prepare students.
Sample answers include: Pay attention to the directions. Provide students with many opportunities to read directions for theirassignments.
You can’t just read this test and then respond. Students need to highlight and take notes—especially during the audio questions.
Students need to learn to “read the question first”.
Students need to be able to go back into the text passages to pull out data that will support their answers.
Students need to read through the questions and all possible answers. Sometimes questions give the answers to other questions in the test. Kids need to know how to do “note taking”.
We need to teach students “how to draw an inference”.
Students need to learn how to write a transition sentence between two paragraphs. Students need to learn how to write using “the speakers” voice.
Students need to memorize formulas in this test.
Students will have difficulty writing in the boxes that expand because of the technology of the way the box expands.
Students will have trouble reading and understanding the directions and what is being asked by the question.
Is this test closely aligned to the “common core?” It is important that teachers know what the test will be assessing.
I am concerned that the math test is not necessarily testing students’ math abilities since there is so much reading. This test seems to assess how well the students read the math questions more than their math skills. Thus, because of the amount of reading, I question the validity of our receiving a math ability score.
When Measured Progress developed the NECAP there was a committee on bias to check for testing bias. Does Smarter Balance do the same? Also, math teachers were asked to evaluate the questions to eliminate unnecessary verbiage so that the Math was being tested.
The opening pages of directions and computer information was ridiculous. I didn’t read it---I’m sure my students won’t. Suggestions: We should have posters made of the most important and often used keys to post in each math classroom. Students need to practice making equations in Word, including the fractions symbol. We need to teach students to distinguish between on correct answer and many correct answers. There are questions that tell the students to choose the correct answers.
The test is difficult to navigate with so many keystrokes to juggle.
The page layout makes it eye weary even though you can expand the screen and zoom in and out.
The passages are lengthy and time consuming and made me consider just choosing “B” so I could move on.
Some terms in the reading seemed out-dated---“Plumb crazy and millwright” for example. I had to use multiple skills and at the same time multitask—id—the audio portions require me to listen and at the same time read possible answers while constructing a well written paragraph in my head.
The test assumes the students are skilled in such areas as pre-reading and questions and if they are not , it assumes they will learn while taking the test to read the questions in advance of the reading.
There wasn’t a flow or cadence to the questions. The type or style of questions changed from one to the next.
The answers were not straight forward—for example on the math test they did not want the answer to the equation, they wanted to know if the answer was 2/3rd greater than what you started with. I understand this is import ant but this test will be exhausting for the kids.
The idea of the best answer and then there being 2 or more good and appropriate answers. It felt like a trick. We’re going to look bad for a few years.
I did 30 questions in an hour and then had to take a break. My eyes hurt and my shoulders felt strained. When I returned 5 minutes later the work was gone.
Each question is totally different than the one before it creating confusion which creates more confusion for the test takers.
Frustration level builds as your take the test creating mental despair---students will shut down.
Many of the math questions seemed to have no basis in the real world and skills that will never be used in life.
Students will need to be taught the technology skills for the test.—scrolling through screens, highlighting, scanning the questions, tough typing, and more.
The test does not encourage students to use writing webs, brain maps, organizers to assist with writing.
Summary: In my opinion, this test is a sad indictment of how disconnected the people who design the test are from the typical students in the classroom. Assessment is necessary but it should be designed to be developmentally appropriate for the students being tested. Assessment should also call for different methods to demonstrate competency rather than one computer model.

The real Issue with the Common Core

the High stakes test...

Coming soon to a school near you...