6 Replies Latest reply on 23-Feb-2018 3:33 PM by librarykate

    Week One: Question #2

    teachontario.team

      There is a significant focus on standardized testing (which is admittedly more common in the USA than in Ontario) in Part 1 of Vilson’s book. In your opinion, is it possible to create a standardized test that does not discriminate against race or class? If we don’t use standardized tests, how do we ensure a standard of quality education in Ontario?

        • Re: Week One: Question #2
          toniduval

          It is not possible to create a standardized test that will appeal to all the learners in our diverse communities. A have read EQAO materials for the past 8 years, and although names are often include to appear to be multicultural this is a surface attempt to include marginalized groups.  It is hard to create a test that will appeal to learners' previous knowledge in an equitable way when experiences are so diverse.  Teachers are finding ways to engage students with curriculum that is personally relevant,how do we test this?

          I know there are problems with anchor texts or moderating work samples but I think these facilitate conversations between educators that are valuable.  For example, a high ELL community would refer to their board's documents and continuum of learning to score student work differently than a community of students that have English as their first language.  I think the accountability needs to start at specific sites because a one-size-fits-all test leaves out too many learners and does not take into account the many factors that contribute to student success.  I think we need to honour the work teachers are doing for the needs of their specific learners.

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            • Re: Week One: Question #2
              librarykate

              It seems we are like-minded on this subject, as well. Certainly accountability is important in education, however, standardized tests are rarely an indication of the skills we really want students to achieve. The ability to think critically, to collaborate, to ask rich questions and solve problems are virtually impossible to test in a province-wide model. I was interested to see the Peel District school board suggest cancelling the EQAO math test for this year back in the fall. Their argument was that if students aren't showing an improvement, perhaps the students and teachers aren't the problem; perhaps it's the test itself.  I am fully in support of quality teaching and learning in our schools but teaching to the test is not quality teaching. And it obviously isn't working on a large scale. Standardized tests often devalue the professional judgement of educators, which is counter-productive. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the millions of dollars a year spent on standardized tests were spent on meaningful, useful and relevant Professional Development for teachers?

                • Re: Week One: Question #2
                  aking

                  I'd like to see a large portion of the funding for standardized testing to be spent instead on special education assessments at an earlier age.  We have trained specialists in our schools who can administer the Woodcock Johnson test to see if something is going on with students, but rarely do they have the opportunity to get the one-to-one time they need to do it.  We usually only allow one psych assessment per school per annum but we know there is a greater need than that.  If I hadn't been able to afford the psych test for my son in grade 2, I don't know where we would be right now.  I can't imagine what it would be like as a parent to have your student enter a system every day that doesn't accommodate individual needs until they're identified.

                   

                  Putting another idea out there, I think the formality of having the world stop for testing to occur all at the same time is where we could save a lot of money, and where we could tweak our standardized testing rather than throwing it out.  If we could allow students to indicate when they're ready to take the literacy test, for example, and to attempt it more than once in a year, I think this would break down a lot of barriers in equity. 

              • Re: Week One: Question #2
                librarykate

                Alanna - The idea that students are responsible for determining when they are ready to take a test gives the student agency over his/her own learning journey (amazing!) which is one of the elements significantly lacking in the current model of testing, and of the system as a whole, really. I'm not sure why students are slotted into grades according to their birth date rather than readiness. (If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say ease of  system organization rather than benefit to the learner.) The reality is that there are children who are reading at a grade 3 level and doing math at a grade 1 level - and they're six years old, so in Grade 1.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could be grouped more freely - so that as they attain different skills, they can move to the next stage. There would be no more grade 1, 2 3 etc, but rather, groupings of students working on the same skills. It would require a complete shift in thinking by educational stakeholders, but would expand social groups and invite much more inclusivity, I think. I'd suspect it would also mean fewer students falling so far behind. 

                  • Re: Week One: Question #2
                    aking

                    Hi Kate,

                    I completely agree with you.  If we really believe in the development of the whole child, then why do we set parameters like age as the readiness target?  Imagine how our reading instruction would change.

                    What other areas of equity do you think are affected by age-based curriculum?

                    AK

                      • Re: Week One: Question #2
                        librarykate

                        I think students are bound to social circles because of the limitations of an age-based curriculum, and sometimes that is really detrimental. I think about some of the best friends I made in high school - they were made in clubs and teams and spanned the grades. Elementary students in small classes stuck together with the same peer group for the nine years of elementary? Especially if there are personality conflicts or bullying? Certainly less than an ideal situation. Just imagine how they could develop leadership skills and friendships across the grades if there were more integration?  It's interesting.  I looked up equity in the dictionary and it is defined as "conforming with rules or standards" which seems somewhat contradictory to how I think about it.  The issue with "rules or standards" is the idea that treating everyone the same is the being equitable. I know we try to make accommodations for students to facilitate their success in learning, however, the entire system is designed for efficiency, not for helping children succeed in the best way possible. Some kids thrive in the structure of an education system, but lots are successful in spite of it.