Saturday, October 6, 2012

Too much testing?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post please:
Teachers: I need your help!

In response to the new testing added to the assessment schedule for this year, I complained to administration that there is too much testing and teachers do not have enough time to teach.

Administration told me that teachers have "begged" for more assessments (example 4 sights).

Please explain.

I understand the need for periodic formative assessments but don't see the need for the amount of testing scheduled for this year (for instance, 23 assessments for 6th graders).

Thank you.


Questioner said...

Do the teachers go over the test results with the students? Testing can have at least some actual educational value if the material is relevant and worthwhile, but if results are not shared with students then any benefits are indirect and less certain.

Anonymous said...

One new test on the assessment schedule (for 3rd-5th grade) is the PSSA Writing Field Test. These results are not even shared with teachers!

The field test results go straight to the testing company….using our kids to validate their tests.

Anonymous said...

"Assessment is NOT "formative" UNLESS there is IMMEDIATE feedback to BOTH teachers and students." (Check the authorities: J. Popham and D. Wiliam)

Two years ago PPS spent $10,000, (yes, ten thousand dollars) to bring Dylan Wiliam here for a ONE DAY seminar for a few of PPS staff to tell them just that!

Lord have mercy!

Anonymous said...

Yes there are way too many tests--because all relate to "checking progress" (of teachers, and maybe students) The reason the teachers miss 4sights is that they were bassically diagnostic- lets see what we need to work on. If teachers were given a private choice most would choose to give a diagnostic early on to see where students were, and then to check at then end to see gain FOR THAT STUDENT...if the student went up super-- example if you start at 2.3 and go to 3.4 youve done well-- even in the 4th grade. When we "monitoring achievement in Pgh- we gave the SAME test... and students knew of course they didnt know it all in September- that was what school was for! Because of the "high stakes" testing -it has become a dirty word- because these tests arent for students and teachers- they are for big companies to make more money.
By the way 4sights were state-wide, and yes, other districts also appreciated the diagnostic capabilities. But, the broadies/ this political admin etc- live in a GOTCHA environment.

Anonymous said...

When are the board meetings? How often do they meet a month? How many are public in a month?

When are the board hearings? How often do they meet?

Anonymous said...

In FACT; the 4Sight assessments are "for profit' and they are available nationwide. Precisely because they are used in so many states, they are seriously flawed for use in any one state. STANDARDS, (prior to the new Common Core State Standards)
were different in every state and as such were constructed to address general rather than specific STANDARDS.

4Sight in PA was required to get funding. Those Districts that cared more about results than funding did not use 4Sight because of its flaws! Serious flaws!

Any comparative analysis of 4Sight assessment will show that 30 to 40% of the PSSA skills were NOT assessed on the 4Sight. Therefore, the feedback was not only delayed by weeks, but it was INCOMPLETE in terms of identifying areas of weaknesses that needed reinforcement (which was the supposed "purpose" of 4Sight.

Teachers did not get enough information on the strengths and weaknesses of their students to take next steps. More importantly, students did not get any information beyond percentage of right or wrong skill areas. They were not permitted to see their 4Sight tests/mistakes which is the purpose of "formative" assessment.

The concept has real value if and only if it is used as a "formative" assessment and feedback to teachers and STUDENTS are immediate! It must also assess all of the PSSA skills or it is a waste of time and money.
The "concept"of students and teachers getting a quick read on whether or not these thinking skills are being mastered is needed to next steps in teaching and learning.

Anonymous said...


Every month the PPS Board/Admin. have four meetings and a Public Hearing.

ALL are open to the public.

Check the PPS Calendar for the exact time/dates for the following meetings:

Business Meeting - 1st wk Mon.@5:30
Education Meeting -1st wk Tues.5:30
Agenda Review Mtg - 3rd Wed.@6:30
Legislative Meeting -4th Wed. @7:00

Public Hearing - 4th Mon. @ 6:00

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:29….
There are 4 board meeting each month open to the public plus a public hearing where anyone can speak for 3 minutes. For instance in October:
October 1st at 5:30- Business and Finance Meeting (presentations are made to the Board by Central Office staff about business issues) This meeting is NOT televised.
October 2nd at 5:30- Education Committee Meeting (presentations are made to the Board by Central Office staff about education topics) This meeting is NOT televised.
October 17th at 6:30- Agenda Review (the Board is able to ask questions and discuss the items they will vote on that month) This meeting is televised.
October 22nd at 6pm- Public Hearing (the Board listens to public testimony prior to voting on issues for that month) This meeting is NOT televised.
October 24th at 7pm- Legislative Meeting (the Board votes. This meeting is televised.

Here is a link to the Board Calendar:|&NodeID=2451

Here is a link to the PPS Tube of recorded meetings:

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I'm the one that asked teachers for help and I'm afraid I'm more confused!

First, I'd like to say that I am a parent. I am also against high-stakes testing and especially using the results to measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools.

Also, I believe students have been hurt physically, psychologically and academically by the amount of tests and the content of tests (testing skills that have not been introduced yet for example).

I made my plea to the Board to stop the hyper focus on testing and someone from Central Office pulled me aside to tell me that teachers have begged for more tests to inform their instruction.

Then, the PFT President writes in the Post Gazette to confirm that….."I hear our members complain repeatedly about the discontinuation of 4-Sight Tests. Due solely to budget cuts, teachers lost a key formative tool that focused on skills needed to differentiate and drive instruction to move students toward mastery of skills tested through eligible content on the PSSA tests".

I have to say I cringed a little bit when I read this. What's going on?

Teachers, what formative assessments do we currently use in PPS? Do you need them?

Parents, I urge you to ask questions about testing this year. Look it up on the PPS website (compare this year's schedule to last year's). Ask your principals to see the assessments and ask when teachers get the results and how they are used.

Consider opting out of any assessments you don't feel are valuable (especially the PSSA's--teachers don't get the results until school is over).

It is legal to 'opt out' of testing in PA. Check it out!

Here is the link to Nina's opinion piece:

Anonymous said...

Teachers complaining about the loss of 4Sight begs the question "Why have the achievement rates in PPS declined over the past six years of using 4Sight?"

Yes, I know PPS has a chart that depicts an incremental rise in achievement. However, if you compare the PA minimum targets with PPS achievement you will see that every year PPS is further away from the minimum target than the previous year. The expectation is that schools/districts advance in ways that bring them closer to the target.

PPS is among the districts that continue to decline. There are currently more than 490 districts ahead of PPS out of 500.

If you do the research, you will see that 4Sight took us backwards rather than forward.

When teacher's know and understand the skills being assessed on a PSSA or the Common Core State Standards, they can assess students' grasp of these skills in day-to-day interactions, lessons, questioning strategies and classroom give and take. How many teachers in PPS do that as they do in successful school districts, those in the top 250 district?

(Make no mistake, PPS does have teachers who are that capable, but clearly not enough, and there are some who do not know what those "skills" might be!)

to say that given the declining achievement rates