Letter to the Editor: Spinning the Test Data

 

Last Monday there was an editorial in the Knoxville News-Sentinel (8/4/14) regarding Tennessee’s assessments, showing a lack of reality and insight.  While it is true that a multiple choice test cannot tell us all that a student has learned, this has always been the case!  It is only because of the high-stakes games being played with public education that attention is being drawn to the TCAP, more so after receiving “flat” results.

 

The PARCC assessment needed to be delayed for many reasons.  It is a computer-driven test.  All it would take is a visit to our schools to see that for every student to have a working computer available during testing isn’t feasible at this time.  This doesn’t include tech support needed to administer the test.  Computers crashing during the test would create a test security nightmare.

 

This also assumes our students are capable of maneuvering through the questions.  As a teacher, I attempted the sample PARCC questions for my grade level and subject.  After an aggravating 20-30 minutes, I gave up.  Not because of the content, but because of the way the test was set up.  Every child doesn’t know how to maneuver properly on a computer.  Before the PARCC assessment would be fair, students would need class time to learn this skill too, taking more valuable time away from the curriculum.

 

Dr. McIntyre stated, “There’s a potential disconnect there (between the curriculum and the TCAP) and I think that makes it somewhat challenging to interpret the results.”  I agree, but I have yet to hear that this test you call “unfair” for students will NOT be used in evaluations of teachers.

 

It is refreshing to see that there is at least one paper in Knoxville with reporters who are willing to research and delve into the data, not just repeat the vague excuses and broad statements fed to them.  I am referring to the column in the Knoxville Focus from the same date, Time for Another “F” in Truth of Advertising?  It is too bad that the “journalists” at the News Sentinel are unwilling or unable to do that.

 

We all know that data can be twisted and spun to support whatever the current agenda may be.  True journalism involves unbiased research and delivery of facts.  The fact is, there is no single test that will truly show what our students are learning.  Period.

 

Nancy Reed

reed4vols@yahoo.com

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