Tag Archives: Standardized tests

Test your Common Core math skills

This weekend we moved Common Core discussion from a blog item here and here to a regular news item here. In the news story I mentioned that Smarter Balanced, one of the two companies states are using to develop standardized test, makes some sample questions available online. You can go see the questions students will see and try to answer them yourself. You can pick a grade level and choose between English Language Arts or Math. As far as I can tell, though, you won’t find out if you answered the questions correctly.

An alternative, one that takes far less time if you choose, is the Washington Post’s seven sample Common Core Math questions. It’s not exactly how students will see the questions, because they are all multiple choice. So you can guess.

On the Post test was able to get six of seven correct. Four of my correct answers really did represent what I knew about math before I started the test. I had to look something up to get one of the answers correct, but I did the work. On an another one I only got it right because it was multiple choice. I did some work to get to the right answer, but if it hadn’t been multiple choice I would not have been successful. On the other hand, though, I think if I had been willing to put in the time necessary to answer the one I got wrong the odds were 50/50 that I would have answered it correctly.

Just out of curiosity I did a search for “common core math test” and found several places offering sample tests. So if you have already hit the WP paywall, you can test your skills elsewhere.

The test is being tested

This weekend I should have a story about two students who have achieved a lot, but the award they are up for they first became candidates for because of how well they did on the ACT and SAT tests. Those two tests have been around forever. (By “forever” I mean longer than I have been a student.) Students now, and this is not news to any parent or educator, spend so much more of their year taking tests than their parents did, that the cry that testing is counterproductive is getting louder.

Consider the piece written by Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon. Among the many cases she makes is that testing might not only be hurting overall education efforts, it might even be designed to do just that.

And it’s a system that, as Core Standards are being implemented around the country, seems built to fail. “All the passing ratings are going to go down about 30 percent this year; that’s what they’re predicting,” says author, advocate and education historian Diane Ravitch. “The dark view is that they want everybody to fail and they want people to say the public schools stink, so they can push for more vouchers and more charters. I can’t describe what’s going on without thinking that we’re in the process of destroying American public education.”

ckteacherevalOn Wednesday at the Central Kitsap School District meeting there was a presentation on the state’s method for teacher evaluation, which will be implemented in 2014. As you can see from the slide on the right, testing will at least be part of what helps measure educators.

Then again, we all know parents use school and district test scores to drive real estate values up or down in an area. Parents try to move to areas where test scores are better. They aren’t a guarantee every child will succeed, but what parent doesn’t hope that peer pressure will influence their children to study harder?

Williams’ suggested solution is to go more local.

Absolutely, there are broken schools and faulty teachers who are failing our children every day. But building a better system of public education – an education to which every child in this country is entitled — takes creative and innovative approaches, tailored to individual communities.

How local? would seem to be the important question. While testing, the editorial asserts, hasn’t closed any learning gaps, how can a state know how well each district is doing if it can’t measure one against another? What are your ideas?