The next round of NYSED Common Core state tests begins in less than 6 months.
NYSED Commission Elia, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and NYSUT are claiming that the tests will now include input from teachers. Here is the notice from NYSUT announcing this opportunity. What these three groups fail to realize (on purpose or more likely as a badly oiled pr stunt) is that teachers have always been a part of the testing creation process. )Click here for the roles teachers have played since NCLB testing started in NY.)
Teachers attempted to pair standards with test questions and were offered flexibility with the wording of questions to address the requirements of the standards. Sometimes, teachers were given a bit more voice. For example, when it was clear that none of the test questions matched the new Common Core writing standards, writing was completely dropped from the test (test items only appear as a response to reading, but not aligned to any writing standards). Speaking and listening also had to be dropped as Pearson was unable to come up with a single question that matched the standards. In fact, teachers had such a difficult time setting standards that only about 15% of standards and strands can be used on NY ELA Common Core tests. Click here for a complete breakdown.
Teachers also score responses from field tests and help create anchor papers that are used during the scoring process. In addition, teachers are part of the final eyes review and can voice concerns before the tests are live.
To clarify, when I say teachers I mean 7 per grade level. 7 teachers per grade level in the entire state are tasked with putting together state tests. How is this possible? The answer is simple- it wouldn’t matter if there were 100 teachers per grade level as teacher input is minimal.
Leaves one to wonder, who makes the decision to put passages and questions on the tests? This is a job for none other than Pearson and its cast of merry psychometricians. Items are extensively field-tested. The items that make it to a live test have produced a desirable outcome (in the case of Common Core tests that outcome is 70% failure). Should the items not perform as the psychometricians predicted they would, Pearson can change cut scores or “equate” passing scores in order to match the predetermined number of students that are labeled proficient. I took on one of the Pearson affiliated psychometricians after he challenged me in the Daily News- still haven’t heard back from him… I guess I got my answer. Click here for more info.
So what exactly can be done to correct all that is wrong with the 2015-16 tests. Nothing. The psychometricians have been hard at work and the field tests were already given. Still, NYSED, Governor Cuomo, and NYSUT want teachers feel as though they have a say in Common Core state tests.
The test development cycle is a laborious process. NYSED lays out the 15 steps involved. Are we to believe that a handful of teachers can somehow work their magic and fix the Pearson test, field test it for accuracy, and have it in the hands of the students in 6 months? The answer to that questions is not A,B,C, or D. It is an absolute NO!