Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stop the testing and our international slide

Blogging and reading blogs forms an echo-chamber.  Those who visit blogs are generally like-minded, nodding our heads as we read about things we already believe or know to be true.
The power of a blog is in disseminating information and understanding to those who do NOT read.  In other words, talk to those who disagree or who are uniformed.
So I offer this, some factual information to pass along when convincing our representatives, friends, neighbors that the current iteration of NCLB has done more harm than good and that high-stakes testing must be stopped now.
Reform needs to occur, but the current punitive, narrowly focused policy in public education has damaged our students and should be stopped by the 112th Congress.

For those who love numbers, these tell the tale clearly and succinctly.  Here is the source.

"...the NCLB approach has not raised performance on international assessments such as PISA that measure higher-order thinking skills and the ability to apply knowledge to novel problems.  Over the years during which NCLB has been in force. U.S. scores and rankings declined on international assessments.  On PISA, U.S. science rankings dropped from 13th to 21st out of 30 participating OECD nations between 2000 and 2006 (with a score drop from 500 to 489) and from 24th to 26th in math between 2003 and 2006, when trends could be evaluated (with a score from from 483 to 474). Of all areas tested, U.S. students scored lowest on problem solving. The PISA literacy test could not be properly scored in the U.S. tests in 2006 due to an editing problem, but on the international PIRLS assessments of reading, the United States dropped from 9th to 18th out of 28 jurisdictions between 2001 and 2006 (with a score drop from 542 to 540). meanwhile, annual gains on the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) slowed considerable after the implementation of NCLB, crawling nearly to a halt in 8th-grade reading...." (The Flat World and Education by Linda Darling Hammond, p 283)

    New reports from PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) were released in early December.  Though some of our scores adjusted upward by a point or two, our international rankings have not budged, with several dropping further as countries who have overhauled their education systems to encourage critical thinking and transfer of knowledge to new situations (like China's experiments in Shaghai which surprised everyone by soaring to the top of the scores) claim higher rankings.

Currently the U.S. rankings in the tested areas are:

Science:  Ranked 23rd (down from 21st as noted above) with a score of 502 (the average score was 501)
Math: ranked 32 (down from 26th!) with a score of 500 (average score 494)
Reading: ranked 17th (sitting close to the previous ranking of 18th) with a score of 500--far below the pre-NCLB score of 542.

Urge your congressman to stop all high-stakes tests today.