Saturday, April 2, 2011

More Testing is Just Good Business

In a classic example of corporate double speak and political spin, The DoE's spokesman, Justin Hamilton responded to Anthony Cody's column about President Obama's statements that we have too much testing.

Hamilton explains that we need even more testing, but that the "next generation" of tests will be "formative assessments" and therefore, not "high-stakes." He goes to great lengths to explain the need for more tests, given throughout the year to
assess students' ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. They will provide a series of interim evaluations during the school year to measure whether students are on track. All of these assessments will be instructionally useful - unlike the one-shot, end-of-year standardized tests given as part of current accountability systems.

These are in addition to the continuing requirements to assess at the end of the year in reading and math.

And it's all about the money. Never forget it's all about the money.

At the end of the piece, he reasonably states
Under the Blueprint and Race to the Top, states may use a variety of tests to measure student growth. These tests can be portfolios, observation of student work against a rubric aligned with state standards, or assessments designed by teachers according to state guidance. All of these assessments must be rigorous and comparable across classrooms.

Rigorous and Comparable Across Classrooms? How are teachers going to do that? Hmmmm.....

The day before, Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff for Arne Duncan and formerly with the NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in both not-for-profit, such as Leadership Public Schools which manages charter schools, and for-profit ventures, such as LearnNow Inc. which also manages charter schools, published an article in the Harvard Business Review.
The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale.

In this new market, it will make sense for teachers in different regions to share curriculum materials and formative assessments. It will make sense for researchers to mine data to learn which materials and teaching strategies are effective for which students - and then feed that information back to students, teachers, and parents.

Oh look, Formative Assessments again. A whole new market for educational venture capitalists to get their hands on our education dollars while researchers from not-for-profts funded by Bill Gates, NewSchools Ventures, and others mine our children's scores for data.

My child is not a data point!

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