Thursday, May 03, 2007

Listserve response regarding state-level tests

Tom,

I have to agree. I served on the Fourth Grade Reading Content Advisory Committee for the Ohio Department of Education - I wrote about this in a Thomas B. Fordham article.

The committee is charged with reviewing test questions against the state's fourth grade reading content standards. Sounds fair enough. Yet, the committee was given the power to object to any question regardless of whether or not the objection was related to an issue with the content standards. So, no questions relating to birthdays, Christmas, etc., were allowed. Any question that someone judged unfair was removed, even though there was a separate fairness committee that had already approved the test items. And, the committee could rewrite questions or suggest alternatives. In addition, the committee favored writing samples to be graded against a very subjective rubric. Multiple choice and true/false were frowned upon, and whole sections of such questions received negative reviews and were pulled.

Truthfully, I'm not certain that anything of value is being tested in Ohio. The process was enlightening. Other than myself, the rest of the committee was made up of reading teachers and district-level administrators. Though the committee was supposed to made up of representatives from all groups of stakeholders (teachers, administrators, parents, community members, business leaders, etc.), I was the only noneducator, and I was a school board member at the time.

I am certain that the rest of the committee sighed in relief after I quit attending their meetings.

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