And now $9.2 million to design “better” standardized tests for 4 year olds!

17 Comments

Hooray!  The U.S. Department of Education is giving away $9.2 million to help states devise better tests for 4 year olds!

According to a recent article in Education Week, “Some state officials say the money would be welcome as they revamp their early-childhood-assessment programs. But others suggest that if the Education Department wants to focus attention on just one part of early learning, an avenue other than kindergarten assessments—teacher professional development, for example—would have been more welcome.”

But I say, to Hell with “teacher professional development.”

We are Connecticut and more assessments is our motto.

For example, just this past year, Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative included not one, but two major laws creating new reading assessment programs targeting pre-k to 3rd graders. 

According to Public Act 12-116, the State Department of Education was required to “develop or approve reading assessments for districts to use to identify deficient K-3 readers. The education commissioner must submit these assessments to the Education Committee by February 1, 2013. Districts must use these assessments beginning July 1, 2013.”

In addition, according to the new law, “Assessments must frequently screen and monitor students throughout the school year. Screening will measure student mastery of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Districts can then use data from these screenings to develop individualized and whole class instruction.”

The major for profit educational testing companies have already lined up to start collecting taxpayer funds.

The noted education testing company, Pearson Education, has been selling a product called “Work Sampling System” and another company, Teaching Strategies LLC, has their own assessment product called the “Teaching Strategies Gold” program.

And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. 

According to the Education Week article, Connecticut is already well-known for its existing assessment program.

The Education Week article explains that Connecticut’s “kindergarten-entrance inventory” is administered in October. Teachers evaluate children on a variety of skills, such as counting to 10; holding a book and turning pages from front to back; and following classroom routines. An “exit inventory” also measures pupils’ skills as they prepare to leave kindergarten.”

And speaking of assessments, Connecticut’s new law also adds new rounds of testing of teachers.

According to the law, “Teachers certified in comprehensive special education or remedial reading and language arts must pass the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2013.

This reading instruction test was approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. Teachers must receive a satisfactory score on the test in order for their teaching endorsement to be valid for grades K-6 and K-12.

Additionally, K-3 teachers and local boards of education employees who hold certificates with nursery-3 or elementary endorsements must take the practice version of the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2014. Employees holding initial, provisional, or professional educator certificates must comply.

Unfortunately, the legislation was so poorly written that, “It is unclear if each affected teacher must take the above tests once or yearly.”

You can find out more about Connecticut’s new reading assessment program here http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0519.htm and more about the national scene via the Education Week article here:

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/20/21kindergarten_ep.h32.html?tkn=NTVFdx8hcIr6LeOrB8fvnam%2FzjXjMBgIGQM0&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1

 

  • Linda174

    On the President’s New “Pre-School Initiative”
    By Mark Naison

    Test them in the cradle
    Test them in the crib
    Test them in the infant seat
    And when they wear a bib
    Test them eating baby food
    And when they ride a bike
    Test them when they fall asleep
    Or picking up a mike
    If you don’t test your infants
    They’ll never get a job
    Sorting shirts in Wal-Mart
    They’ll probably steal and rob
    The entire US economy
    Depends on taking tests
    We’ll never compete globally
    And fall behind the rest

  • Linda174

    The tiniest test takers…you must see the graphic and it is never too early to start testing…oops I mean teaching:

    The commissioner describes the testing process, “Testing materials are injected into the mother’s uterus utilizing the same needles employed during amniocentesis. Then we guide the materials into the fetus’ hands using probes and prod it to take the exam. We give the unborn about an hour to complete the test and then we suction the materials out through the needle. The only problems we have encountered are fetuses who refuse to take the exam and fetuses who eat the pencils.”

    Asked by one reporter if standardized testing of the unborn was perhaps “ridiculous” the Governor responded irately, “You can never test too early or too often.”

    http://studentslast.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-tiniest-test-takers.http://studentslast.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-tiniest-test-takers.html

    • jschmidt2

      next we;ll be testing the parents to see if they can produce acceptably intelligent children.A lot of politicians would fail.

      • Linda174

        All elected officials and those running for office who will vote on and propose education policy/laws/mandates should be required to take the 11th grade CCSS/SBAC tests starting in 2015. Their scores will be published and ranked for all to view. Those not meeting mastery will need to resign including the governor, commissioner and the state board of education.

        • jschmidt2

          good one- I like it. We need to make sure the tests are taken by Congress, the Prez and cabinet as well.

          • Linda174

            We’d have five people left in government, most likely women. :)

    • jonpelto

      Great, great, great additions to the post!

      Sad but funny – in a funny, sad sort of way.

    • Bill Morrison

      Linda,
      I thought that the tests were used at conception.

  • jschmidt2

    lets’ hurry up and take the money and then have to pay it back in 4 years with interest because we didn;’t use it correctly.

  • brutus2011

    This is just another “creative” example of education spending going anywhere but the classroom–in this case more design for more standardized testing.

    As is said more and more often–you can’t make this stuff up.

  • http://twitter.com/readdoctor Jesse Turner

    9.2 million dollars for more testing. Why Jonathan, Connecticut must already be providing Pre-K slots for every child living in poverty, or near poverty at this point. Surely the feds must be thinking we have universal Pre-K in Connecticut to just throw out over 9 million dollars on testing. That must be why the February Update to the Education Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly the CSDE said 950 of the 1000 slots are already filled. We can’t even 50 more needy children to serve here. My gosh- we did it Connecticut must now be providing every child in need a place in a quality Pre-K placement. Pinch me I must be dreaming.
    I wonder if Pearson has makes any political campaign contributions to committee members? No of course not…pinch me again.
    If what the President meant in his state of the union on early childhood education was more testing early on he lost me.
    more testing just means more teaching to the test. A sure fire way to demoralized early childhood educators, and increase the suffering for 4 -year old children.
    Sometimes we have to say no to Federal money.

  • Apartheid First

    Just when I think it cannot get more absurd and demeaning, it does.
    How difficult it is to be a child; how likely it is that a child will grow up, and remain, in poverty.

  • Bill Morrison

    And, to hell with textbooks and other esential classroom resources! Since my tenure in Hartford Public Schools, I have seen millions spent on teacher evaluation, I have seen millions spent on standardized tests, and I have seen millions spent on redesign. But, I have been unable to get any administrator to squeeze through enough money for textbooks. I have been advised to stretch my own personal resources and my own ingenuity during these lean budgets. In other words, I have been informed that we can test the studenets beyond reason but we cannot teach them. And they wonder why there is an “achievement gap”!

  • http://twitter.com/joancgrim Joan C. Grim

    I’m an early childhood special education teacher educator and I want to point out that ‘The Work Sampling System’ by Meisels & Marsten, et al. is a valid, portfolio, criterion referenced assessment that has been in use in early childhood programs for over 20 years. It is the antithesis of the standardized tests being pushed by the corporate reformers and is a useful and valid tool for educators. It is designed for a teacher and parent to make decisions about a child’s actual performance. Hopefully, Meisels can preclude Pearson and DoEd from turning it into a weapon of mass destruction.

    BTW, I have no affiliation or particular interests with Pearson or the WSS. I simply want DoEd to fund VALID assessment practices designed by experts rather than the likes of the Milken brothers and their invalid TEAM/TAP assessment system. This convicted felon’s foundation received a $40 million grant from Arne’s DoEd in Oct 2012 and there is no valid, peer reviewed research on TEAM/TAP. What kind of education department gives federal grant money to unproven junk sold by convicted felons?

    • jonpelto

      Thank you so much for the information – I’ll update the post and I agree – hopefully this guy Meisels can keep them from turning into something it hasn’t been.

    • Linda174

      One run by eduvultures and future felons and supported by our president.