Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness

Sorry, I'm not referring to the NCAA Tournament, but to CSAP. Several of you have blogged individually about your concern over CSAP, so I thought I would open it up on The Fischbowl. What are your thoughts regarding the usefulness of the CSAP? What role should standardized assessment play in education? Are we using the results of the CSAP in any meaningful way? Is CSAP the best way to measure student learning and, if not, what would you suggest instead? You can address those questions or other things that come to mind, but try to be constructive in your responses (not just complaining).


  1. Wow, I'm amazed that no one else has posted here. Anyways, I'm not really a fan of CSAP. It's a weak attempt to standardize something that shouldn't be standardized. I can see why it could potentially be useful, but realistically, the teachers feel the need to teach to the test, which ultimately does no one any good because we simply receive more funds to learn to test better. And, as some people have said, it is very out of touch with most skills we need to learn. As I sat scribbling maddly away trying to find the product of 1286 and 8294 manually, I realized that my pencil was already dull. Realistically, in the world when I need to find the probability of pulling three and a half tie-dye socks out of 7395 other ones, a calculator costs only four or five dollars down the street and saves valuable time and energy. And although it seems minor, and is rather petty, the test simply is out of touch.

    Also, in my fifty extra minutes after I finished my science test, I wondered just how much this thick little booklet cost. And how much the people deciphering my handwriting were paid. And how much time and money are wasted on testing rather than teaching. It seems a bit unbalanced.

    It seems, though, that we do need some sort of system to figure out and make sure students are learning and allow the state to fairly distribute funding. Ultimately, I think I trust my teachers enough for a simple evaluation by teachers to be adequate. I don't think schools need fancy percentiles or official-sounding ratings. I would just ask the teachers at schools for a very detailed evaluation and report on schools. And although this is not nearly a perfect method either, I trust my teachers to know me much more than I trust the people reading my CSAP's and laughing at my handwriting.

  2. I am not sure that I totally agree with Molly but I like what she says at the end of her comment. That she trusts the feedback from her teachers. That might be the most important lesson that we learn from this study, the fact that the students like the feedback and find value in it. I know that the CSAP is a way to measure if schools are meeting benchmarks of material but there must be a more meaningful way to use the data. I think that the standardized test is a valuable tool that has been misused for some time. I think that the scores should be used for feedback to the instructors and students. However, if some students do not take the test seriously there is a big problem with the feedback. How can we actually measure a students level of understanding with one test? I think the test should compare the same students score from one year to the next and not compare one school to another. Afterall, are all the students just a blank slate when they enter AHS or do they already know some things? That information would be a lot more useful.

    I have a few questiosn remaining. What about the disciplines that are not included in the test? How do they feel? Should this one test be enough to drive decisions about materials and curriculm?

    I find myself also wondering how the politicians and the parents would do on the test. Do they know enough to score a "proficient"?

  3. hatak... in regards to your question could the parents and the politicians pass the exam... I have to be honest, I do not think that I could pass the math and science portion of the test... and i think many parents/politicians could not either.

    I agree that I think that they way in which we use standardized testing is wrong. I do not think that we should be comparing students to students from other schools. I also do not think that we should reward those that do better.

    I am mixed on the feelings of whether or not social studies should be tested. I like that it is not, so we dont have a department teach to the test. I think as social studies we are tested thru the reading and writing section. I think if we did begin to test social studies would it be over skills or content? If its content, then our district would have to re-arrange our curriculum so that we teach the same classes at the same grade level. Also we would have to decide what content is tested... Western Civ, government, u.s history etc....

    I think that these tests can be worthwhile, but I am not certain how so. How do we actually measure student learning? Isn't different for each student?