Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just when you thought they couldn’t make the SAGE test worse…

Thank you Sen. Osmond and Rep. Cunningham.

Utah S.B. 204, attractively named “Parental Rights in Public Education”*, among a lot of other things, states:

“(f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a) and Subsection (3) [shall] may not be considered in determining:
      (i) a student's academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or
      (ii) whether a student [shall] may advance to the next grade level.”

Simply put, I will no longer be able to count my student’s SAGE test scores on their grades.  That includes the 8 benchmark tests and the year end test that I am required to give.

Consider these things:

  1. I’m supposed to use the data from the benchmark tests to accurately influence my upcoming instruction, filling in gaps that show up in the test data.
  2. The data from the end of the year SAGE test is supposed to be used to accurately rate schools and teachers.
  3. Students hate tests.
  4. Most students only work out difficult problems on tests because it counts on their grade.  (How many times did you ask your teacher “is this on the test?”)
  5. Some students will purposely fail a test to spite the teacher that pushes them if they know they will not be held accountable for it.
  6. Students hate tests. (Oh, did I say that already?)
  7. Most students, if they are not held responsible for it, DO NOT CARE about test scores.

In case you don’t believe #3 & #6, here is what one of my students drew on his notes today (5/18)

We finished our SAGE tests over a week ago, so this sentiment is a bit removed from his having to take the test.

I can guarantee my scores will go down next year.  But even worse is that I will be making instructional decisions on faulty data; test results on tests that students have absolutely no investment in.

And finally, I ask you Mr. Osmond and Mr. Cunningham; If it’s not fair to grade a student on their SAGE test scores, how can it possible be fair to grade teachers and schools on them?

*After all, who could argue that parents should have rights when it comes to their child’s education.


Lisa Shafer said...

This is well-stated.
Still, I must say that I completely ignore my students' SAGE scores because they tell me nothing. Instead, I gauge their progress by how well they do on the variety of assignments and tests I give them -- because those count, and they're more likely to try.

Max Sartin said...

I agree, that's why I don't count the tests very heavily. You don't need to count them for much of the grade, just as long as they hear "yes, it will count on your grade" and they will try harder.