Category Archives: High Stakes Testing

Proudly Ineffective Human Capital

1aMaoYou might be excused if you assumed the phrase “Ineffective human capital Investments” is a relic of a central planning communist Stalinesk era.  After all, we would never assume to treat teachers, let alone students, as widgets mass produced on a national scale would we?

Yet, that is exactly not only the tone, but the message being sent by the latest National Governors Association guide to building a robotic, ahem human, workforce.  Their latest report (you just can’t make this stuff up) is titled “A Governor’s Guide to Human Capital Development.”

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Please Pass that Test, Johnny!

Pass Or Fail Keys To Show Exam Or Test ResultDespite consistent criticism from educators around the state to tying compensation and certification to student growth as measured by standardized tests (SBAC), the Tiered Licensure Committee continues to insist that compensation and teacher certification be tied to student test scores.

A refresher, I emailed every member of both the technical advisory committee as well as the subcomittee about a month ago.  To some members credit, including IEA President Penni Cyr and Superintendent Luna, I received a legitimate concerned response.  However, it seems the bulk of the members declined to open a dialogue, and little (if any) of my concern–particularly to special education and English language learner students–made it into the discussion.

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Response to OpEd Criticism: Square Root of Stupid

Recently my OpEd critiquing the logic of tying federal special education reimbursement dollars was published in the Idaho Press Tribune.  As with its publication in Idaho Education News it was generally well received.

However, I did receive several messages from special education advocates arguing that special education students are capable of performing at academic proficiency and thus schools should be held accountable via Duncan’s plan to withhold the purse-strings of federal coffers for districts who are not proficient under revised guidelines for special education reimbursement.

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The Square Root of Stupid

StupidRecently National Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that the federal government will be changing the way in which it allocates federal money for special education services to states.  Secretary Duncan wants to tie test scores for special education to the amount of money a state receives from the federal government for reimbursement of special education services.

The logic is simple:  states that send back high special education student test scores will get more money, those with lower scores will get less or even no money.  Surely this will improve student learning, right?  Clearly No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) emphasis of tying student test scores to federal money was a major success!  Cloning NCLB tools for special education students sounds like a real winner.

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Superintendent Luna’s Response to Concern over Tiered Teaching Certification Proposal

LunaSuperintendent Tom Luna replied back to me regarding my recent OpEd article which laid out my concern about the proposed tiered teacher certification and value added model.

I do have a follow up commentary planned for his response soon, but for today I’ll let him speak for himself.  His response, in full, is below. Continue reading

Special Education Should be Concerned About a Model That Devalues

By Levi B Cavener

Levi B CavenerDuring this year’s Idaho legislative session a new tiered certification model was discussed as part of the recommendations from the Governor’s Education Task Force. Buried in this model has a barely discussed, but particularly insidious, implication for special education teachers and students.

At the core of this issue is the Value Added Model, or VAM. Part of the discussed tiered teacher certification model will rely on student achievement based on standardized student test scores; in Idaho this data will be collected in the form of  the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium,  or SBAC. Continue reading

At The Core of The Common Core

by Victoria M. Young

At The Core of “Teaching to The Core”
“The standards emphasize critical thinking and real-world applications of what students learn in math and language.” (Idaho Statesman, Bill Roberts, 3/9/14)

Critical thinking and real-world applications are not ideas that are properties of The Core. These things were the basis of the teaching philosophy of Aristotle and brought into the modern era by many including John Dewey (1933).

And significant research has been done on the topics surrounding what we are now calling “college and career ready” students with The Eight Year Study being particularly significant to our situation today. Continue reading

Are You In on Opting Out?

Levi B CavenerThe new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has been taking a lot of heat during the legislative session recently.  District superintendents recently met with the State Department of Ed to push back against the test, and even a State Senator has been vocal about his opposition to the assessment.

Idahoans for Local Education recently launched an Opt Out movement for SBAC and ISAT in Idaho.  Stephanie Zimmerman, point person on the project, listed the rationale for taking such an action including: Continue reading