Thursday, April 30, 2015

Standards are Killing Kindergarten

Kindergarten was supposed to be half day  learning how to go to school. Not to insure that every child arrives in 1st grade knowing how to read and write at the same level and erase all income and ethnic gaps. 

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten

by Wendy Lecker
This article originally appeared in the Stamford Advocate on February 21, 2014 
One of the most distressing characteristics of education reformers is that they are hyper-focused on how students perform, but they ignore how students learn. Nowhere is this misplaced emphasis more apparent, and more damaging, than in kindergarten.
Boy Playing With Blocks
not allowed
A new University of Virginia (UVA) study found that kindergarten changed in disturbing ways from 1999-2006. There was a marked decline in exposure to social studies, science, music, art, and physical education and an increased emphasis on reading instruction. Teachers reported spending as much time on reading as all other subjects combined.
The time spent in child-selected activity dropped by more than one-third. Direct instruction and testing increased. Moreover, more teachers reported holding all children to the same standard.
How can teachers hold all children to the same standards when they are not all the same? They learn differently, mature at different stages — they just are not all the same, especially between the ages of 4-6.

... e, the drafters of the Common Core ignored the research on child development. In 2010, 500 child-development experts warned the drafters that the standards called for exactly the kind of damaging practices that inhibit learning: direct instruction, inappropriate academic content, and testing.

All Day Kindergarten for Everybody in Minnesota

All-day Kindergarten For Minnesota Kids

When Minnesota made all-day kindergarten a free option for the 2014-15 school year, more than 57,000 students enrolled. Parents of 99% of all students chose the all-day option....During the 2013-14 school year, just 54% of kindergarteners went to school all day. 
....Critics of all-day kindergarten that stresses reading and math, rather than play and art, worry that students will suffer. Play time for young children is deemed critical for the development of creativity and ingenuity. hose in charge of education policy must pay attention to the developmental inappropriateness of young children spending long days at school focusing on academics. While spending all day in kindergarten class may seem like a good idea to parents who need childcare, it may not be in their children’s best interest because it is not age-appropriate.

Computerized Testing Problems

Computerized Testing Problems [edit]

April 2015

April 24, 2015 MCA testing glitches raise teacher concerns over results   Years and multiple testing vendors later, taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, is as anxiety-inducing as ever for students and teachers.  computerized science MCAs since 2008, with varying success, and this year began requiring nearly all students to take math and reading MCAs online.  glitches with provider Pearson's testing system, which disrupted testing three days over the past two weeks, are just the latest example of the problematic transition. Besides issues directly with testing vendors, school districts long have struggled to address software compatibility problems and to ensure they have the technological capacity to test all students online... this year, at least 14 states had testing delays or cancellations due to technical problems with Pearson or other vendors, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, often a critic of standardized tests. state won a $11.5 million legal settlement in 2002 over incorrectly scored math exams. testing supporters say the information the MCAs provide is critical...said Jim Bartholomew, education policy director with the Minnesota Business Partnership... "find your successes so you can replicate them. That's how you get better." (but largely connected with parent income, education, and neighborhood) struggled to log into Pearson's online system or waited as long as 20 minutes for new questions to appear, worst April 14, 15 and 21, eventually forcing the Minnesota Department of Education to suspend testing for a day so the system could be repaired. students take a  total of a million MCA tests.  similar to 2013 when, for two days, some students either couldn't begin or complete tests on a system provided by the American Institutes for Research, or AIR. That also led to a suspension of testing. variety of software and hardware problems and an apparent cyberattack that tried to overwhelm the testing system, despite fixes... stilll  experiencing similar problems....missing or incorrect student information when testing resumed...trouble with an online calculator... leaders are no longer as optimistic about the new online system  ...smaller and rural districts, continue to be critical of Pearson's online TestNav portal,...outdated and it requires them to keep Internet software on hundreds of computers set in a specific way to remain compatible. "What would you rather do, install one application to 500 computers and be done with it? Or babysit 500 computers?" ... teachers, who fear their jobs could be on the line because of student performance on a flawed testing system. 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds taking these tests,"teachers can provide little guidance... "no riches for glitches" petition Minnesota has a three-year, $38 million contract with Pearson ... 2013 review by a state-hired consultant found problems with the AIR testing system had little impact on scores.

April 21, 2015 Minnesota suspends schools' MCA testing after tech glitches Star Tribune Apr 22, 2015 - State education officials halted the annual assessment tests on Tuesday 21st after a third day of technical problems prevented some students from taking them.

April 21, 2015 Online denial of service cyberattack helped bring down MN student testing system mpr news Apr 22, 2015 - Pearson said Minnesota and other states suffered technical testing problems that the company traced to an overloaded processor and said it's been reconfigured. "The second interruption involved a malicious denial-of-service attack that was terminated after 30 minutes," the company added. "Pearson has implemented additional protections to reduce the likelihood of any additional service interruptions due to DDoS attacks."

Minnesota suspends statewide student testing amid ...Apr 21, 2015 - More problems popped up in the afternoon. A similar problem last week was caused by a server malfunction at Pearson, the state's testing ...

Computer glitch interrupts statewide testing for some schoolsApr 14, 2015 - Several Minnesota schools experienced problems with online statewide testing Tuesday. A server malfunction at testing company Pearson ...

March 2015

Report: Common Core Math Test- fatally flawed [edit] Steven Rasmussen SR Education Associates March 2015  What I found shocked me. This analysis of mathematics test questions posted online by
Smarter Balanced reveals that, question after question, the tests: • Violate the standards they are supposed to assess; • Cannot be adequately answered by students with the technology they are required to • Use confusing and hard-to-use computerized interfaces; or • Are to be graded in such a way that incorrect answers are identified as correct and correct answers as incorrect. If the technology-enhanced items and training tests are indicative of the quality of the actual tests coming this year—and Smarter Balanced tells us they are10— the shoddy craft of the tests will directly and significantly contribute to students’ poor scores

January 2015

Pearson, Minnesota Dept. of Ed. Sort Through Testing Breakdowns By Sam Atkeson on January 9, 2015 11:24 AM Pearson is working with Minnesota school districts and the state's department of education to resolve online testing breakdowns that have disrupted trial exams in advance of the spring testing season. During recent rounds of practice tests, districts across the state reported issues with Pearson's TestNav website—an online testing portal that will be used to administer the Minnesota Comprensive Assessment in March.
Pearson, Minnesota Dept. of Ed. Confront Testing Malfunctions, Apple Safari Browser Glitches Education Week Jan 9, 2015 - Pearson, Minnesota Dept. of Ed. Confront Testing Malfunctions ...Pearson is working with Minnesota school districts and the state's department ... While Minnesota opted in 2013 to adopt the Common Core State Standards in reading only, it is requiring that all districts make the full transition to online testing this year. (The state's assessment has been developed by Minnesota, which is not a member of either of the country's two main consortia creating tests aligned to the common core.) Issues have been reported most often by districts equipped with Apple computers, due to incompatibilities between Pearson's testing portal and the device's standard web browser, Safari. Updated versions of Safari (on OS X 10.7 or higher) will not support the Java and Flash software necessary to run TestNav unless the browser is operated in what is called "unsafe mode." 

A history of Pearson's testing problems worldwide  The Washington Post May 6, 2014 - Now that Pearson, the worldwide education company, has won a huge contract with PARCC, one of the two multi-state consortia designing ...

October 2103 

Minnesota: After online testing glitches, state won't seek damages  St. Paul Pioneer Press Oct 30, 2013 - Despite problems encountered by thousands of Minnesota students ...officials have had with the American Institutes for Research, or AIR. After online testing glitches, state won't seek damages from vendor... AIR's frustrations with the department are large enough that the organization chose not to bid on a new, larger online testing contract expected to be awarded in coming months.  three-year, $61 million contract to provide online tests, including the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, through 2014.  On two days in April, students had trouble using the online system and many abandoned test-taking, forcing state officials to expand the MCA testing window. AIR officials acknowledged a computer slowdown on one day but said equipment was otherwise functioning normally

State severs its ties with MCA administrators, AIR quits  Star Tribune Star Tribune Oct 31, 2013 American Institutes for Research (AIR) recently notified the Minnesota Department of Education that it won’t try to renew its $61 million, three-year contract when it expires in one year.The decision to effectively sever business ties is supported by department officials who have grown increasingly frustrated with AIR, particularly after online testing problems disrupted the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments last school year. An estimated 15,000 students from 400 schools experienced testing problems over two days in April, 

May 2013 

Plagued by technology glitches, Minnesota extends online ...Star Tribune May 1, 2013 - Some Minnesota school leaders are questioning the validity of ... In Duluth, students have had problems throughout the online testing period. ... Jon Cohen, executive vice president of American Institutes for Research (AIR), ...

April 2013

Online testing problems, minutes to load, kicked off,  worry state education officials ... mpr news Apr 25, 2013 - test questions have been slow to load, sometimes taking several minutes. Some students have been kicked off the system as they took the test. The cause of this week's problem is yet to be found... been a frustrating experience. Ninety-five percent of the state's students, third through 8th grade, take their math MCAs online. About 30 percent of the students take their reading assessment tests the same way. The glitches have upset students, teachers and families,

Computer crash derails math assessment exams St. Paul Pioneer Press Apr 16, 2013 - Thousands of students across Minnesota could not take the online state ... problem at testing contractor American Institutes of Research, or AIR, ...

AIR Servers Crash Preventing MN from Testing Students  Utah against common core May 1, 2013 - Thousands of students across Minnesota could not take the online state ... problem at testing contractor American Institutes of Research, or AIR, In 2013, under a testing contract with the Washington-based vendor the American Institutes of Research, or AIR, Minnesota was forced to extend the testing window after a range of glitches prevented students from completing the MCAs on time.

Enough is Enough -- Pearson Education Fails the Test Again Huffington Post Loading...Apr 24, 2013 - But the problems in Minnesota did not stop. In 2002, a computer glitch caused malfunctions in some online math tests and Pearson incorrectly ... Test-Takers See Double y Yoav Gonen, New York Post, April 19, 2013 Some reading passages on this week's state exams came straight out of a school curriculum produced by the test-maker -- giving schools that bought those materials a leg up, teachers and parents said yesterday. The rehashing of essays for students in Grades 6 and 8 was discovered on English exams created by Pearson..  2,700 New York City students were wrongly told in recent weeks they were not eligible for seats in public school gifted and talented programs because of errors in scoring the tests used for admission,   2000 was a particularly bad year for Pearson. Florida fined Pearson $4 million because of delays in test score delivery. In Washington, over two hundred thousand writing exams had to be rescored. In Minnesota, Pearson misgraded 45,739 graduation tests, which resulted in a lawsuit with a $11 million settlement. The judge hearing the case found that there had been "years of quality control problems" and a "culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting." But the problems in Minnesota did not stop. In 2002, a computer glitch caused malfunctions in some online math tests and Pearson incorrectly failed nearly 8,000 Minnesota students on a test that was required for high school graduation. Pearson agreed to pay up to $7 million in damages for that problem. In 2007, a Minnesotaonline statewide math test was shut down after the program malfunctioned for 25% of the districts that were using it. In 2010, the results from online science tests taken by 180,000 students in grades 5 to 8 were delayed due to scoring errors.

FAIRTEST: Pearson's History of Test Foul Ups  dianeravitchSep 19, 2013 - of Pearson's testing errors over the years. PEARSON'S HISTORY OF TESTING PROBLEMS. compiled by Bob Schaeffer, Public Education ...

Pearson VUE Test Centers Experience Major Problems Inside Higher Ed Apr 26, 2013 - Pearson VUE, which operates a worldwide network of testing centers for various exams, has been experiencing significant technical problems ...

Pearson Vue Testing Problems - The Cisco Learning Network Jun 15, 2012 - I called Pearson Vue to open an incident report immediately after I failed the test. Pearson told me that I was not allowed, as a test taker, to enter ... I took the switch test last week and failed because I was not given enough time to complete the test.  The test was interupted when the test center lost its internet connection for about 15 minutes.  When the connection came back, I was led back into the testing room and told the test would start exactly where I left off.  The test timer started where I left off, however the actual test went back to a point about 30 minutes prior to where I had left off.  I lost 30 minutes of the time allowed for the test.  The proctor told me to put in an incident report with Pearson Vue if I were to fail the test because of the lost time. I called Pearson Vue to open an incident report immediately after I failed the tes