Saturday, March 15, 2014

DESE on PARCC in Northampton

Because I'm a glutton for punishment  interested in how this keeps changing, I'm at Smith Vocational-Agricultural School in Northampton for another round of "PARCC and the Common Core in Massachusetts" with Bob Bickerton, which I liveblogged in Worcester here.
While I won't live-blog the parts that are repeats of the presentation, I will post as I see things that are new or different.

posting as we go!
Bickerton: concerns around standards and testing
time on testing
technology and gaps in technology
how much is on everyone's plate
"these are issues I anticipate"
Field tests start in just a week over a week
Eighteen states, chaired by Chester, MA very involved
Higher ed involved, which they were not in the past
"if we come to agreement about what college ready is, we won't be putting kids through accuplacer and into remedial classes" in college
two parts: spring and end of year
Memorandum of Agreement in 2010 to adopt PARCC "provided they are at least as comprehensive and rigorous as our current MCAS assessments, if not more so"
Board votes in Fall 2015; at same time, Higher Ed board will vote on adoption of PARCC as college entrance standard
 Note that MA Board voted to adopt Common Core in December of 2010
we're going through some claims here about MCAS "not looking outside the box of K-12 education" which PARCC does, which I'd say is untrue
MCAS costs about $23 per pupil, because it uses human graders, because it's not all multiple choice; PARCC still has "constructed response" (not just multiple choice) but it will be spread over larger number of states; PARCC to cost $15-16 per pupil
Query: how many students are not ready for freshmen courses? 37% statewide. Of all students?  FOR STUDENTS ENTERING PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITY; something like 40% of students going to college in Massachusetts go to public colleges and universities, so that's 37% of something like 40% of students going to college (which is not the same thing)
UPDATE: see here for some calculations that look more like 17%
Query: materials developed by ETS and Pearson? Testing companies don't own the intellectual properties when they are developed with public funds
Query: (not really a question): infrastructure and curriculum change cost FAR OUTWEIGHS savings state is touting on test cost
Bickerton: test prep doesn't work and kills children's interest in education
"how to make the tests more immune to drill and kill"
Query: relation of student income to test grade? Yes, but "students from affluent families end up in remedial classes, too" Response: we know there's a correlation between lower academic performance and lower financial resources
Bickerton: big issue for low income
Point: need to lower the costs on higher education
Query: didn't MCAS not serve its purpose, either (if kids weren't ready for college)? MCAS taken in 10th grade. However, correlation between 10th grade MCAS math and remedial math
Query: will this eliminate or make SAT obsolete? Broad agreement on College Core; recent changes most recent changes in debate over legitimacy of such tests in admission
Query: huge infrastructure cost due to use of online technology; already bare bones, now have to go further. How do we know that we're not going to just teach to this new test?
"vast majority of school districts did not change their standards due to new (1993) standards at all"
then became a footrace with MCAS when it came in
"others said we have to drill to get our kids ready" but data is clear that scores didn't reflect that
"huge gaps for certain subgroups of students"
Query: college and career ready for third graders? seventh graders? "Based on what a kid knows and is able to do, and based on what he knows each year, so when he gets to high school, we can focus on this standard"
now getting the list of tests: two optional, diagnostic grade 2-8; midyear; then two required in spring and end of year.
No large scale assessments of speaking and listening now, particularly from students who don't speak up in class
PARCC has five performance levels: movement easier to see
Level 1 did not demonstrate partial command
Level 2 partial command
Level 3 moderate command
Level 4 "strong command" being "college ready" or "ready for next grade"
Level 5 distinguished command
But state will not control promotion
expectation is that between level 3 and level 4 will be grade 10 graduation requirement; level 4
note that this is the reverse of the accountability levels for schools and districts...which is confusing
Time on testing: MCAS has a recommended duration; PARCC has a "designated" duration
"we spend too much time on testing AND how could we limit the amount of time kids have to spend on a test"
most testing is local
Bickerton: "see it as a design challenge to create tests that don't promote drill and kill"
Query: speaking and talking for ELL students? "only growing part of our student body in the state"
speaking and learning in high school may include something like listening to a debate and figuring out if someone answered the question or danced around it
moving kids "out" of ELL is deceptive; should include all students that have EVER been in ELL
working on "cacheing" so as to keep records locally so they do not need high speed access
Bickerton: definition is of college and career: address academic side and problem solving side, but not traits like persistence that are also important and cannot be tested
Query: how will you know you've succeeded? Edwin data system on DESE: how do students do when they get into college? Protection of kids data and privacy

PARCC field test starts on the 24, goes to second week of April
"kids are not being tested, test is being tested"
not only will scores not be available; there ARE no scores
MCAS exemption: 85-87% of districts are double testing
"now we're getting an earful, but it was a district decision, not a state decision"
1.2 million students nationwide field testing; 82,000 students in grades 3-11 in 350 districts in 1100 schools; 700 computer based, 400 paper and pencil

all accommodations in MCAS will also be available in PARCC
no PARCC portfolio system (like MCAS-Alt) as yet, so upgrading MCAS-Alt

Query: limited social mobility over past few years; preoccupation with testing will limit social mobility? Bickerton: started in education in adult literacy; believe testing has helped for students who were previously "totally ignored in school" Would like to shrink the number of students coming into it from K-12 schools
Response: intractability of subgroups; worry about that
Bickerton: testing keeps some of them from getting a high school diploma, which is a disaster for some of them; shift has less to do with whether you have a high school diploma and more to do with what skills you have
lower level of skills=earning levels are low and the converse
are we doing the right work or not?
"but I think it's a bigger issue than education"

next year, districts choose PARCC or MCAS; if you choose PARCC, it will be "hold harmless" on accountability levels
"a district decision at the school level" (aka: district says schools X, Y, Z take PARCC; A,B,C take MCAS)
accountability levels are not instrument dependent
continuing on growth measures with PARCC; also a belief that you can watch kids go up the vertical scale
achievement levels move will be hard
no mention on how changing tests will change scores, as it always does

FCC working on expanding funding; DESE working with Leg on state funding (bond bill passed House; in Senate now)
federal and state funding can themselves match
Query: could this testing be done off-site on Saturday at somewhere with better technology? basically, maybe; the state never thought of that. Working on it.
test intended to be push for school technology; last state bond bill passed in 1991
Query: not just bandwidth, also computer lack
this bond bill will allow for computers/devices as well
if kids are not using technology often, don't give them the online version

response to my query on about little kids typing long answers: field test does include some measurement of kids typing, particularly in the early grades
Burlington and Revere doing local evaluation of "how kids do with the technology on the testing"

Bickerton: Ed Reform: laid out authorities in certain areas, "our formal answer is 'there's no authority to let you opt out'"
"In the world of reasonable adults, if a kid shows up, and says 'my mom told me not to take this test,' nobody is going to march him into a room, sit the kid down, and force him to take the test."
Query: what are the repercussions for districts? "we've run into that with MCAS..." answer on that is funding for schools and for districts who refuse MCAS
if a kid is absent for MCAS, there's a make-up; if they aren't here for that, "doesn't count as an actual achievement score" though he then talks about 95% under NCLB, which doesn't line up with what we've been told before about "Not Tested Other"...we'll have to look into that.
"Worcester voted to opt out, we believe that they had no authority to vote to opt out, but we're not going to do anything about it"
And you won't believe me, but that really was the last exchange.

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