Saturday, October 8, 2016

Smarter Balanced Fails to Show Any Merit

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) added information in the opt out form packet that states that if a student doesn’t take the Smarter Balanced Exam (SBAC), then valuable learning information will be lost.  What is this valuable information?  How would this information be used to guide instruction?

Last year, I was called into a full-day meeting to go over the first year’s SBAC results with the intent of looking at what areas of instruction we needed to focus on.  At the end of the day and after contact with ODE experts, we were unable to get one piece of information about which areas we would need to put extra time in for instruction.  We were told that we would have to give additional formative assessments to get that information.  So what were we told is the purpose of the test?  Accountability.  

When the projected cut scores were first released they showed that English Language Learners (ELL) students, had a projected rate pass rate of 5% or less in some of the grades, I filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.  My complaint was rejected because they said that since most everyone would be failing, then I couldn’t prove discrimination against any protected class, such as ELL or Special Education students.

You don’t need to be an expert in data or statistics to come to the conclusion that this test is not valid.  It does not give teachers the information they need to determine how to better make students college and career ready.  The results don’t come out in time to make instructional decisions.  The test discriminates against ELL students as the pass rate threshold is so low that no valid data conclusions can be made.  The test is an autopsy of our failure to provide adequate services for ELL students.  This is different than what Stand for Children and Chalkboard Project infer that it is because of poor teaching that the students are not succeeding.  We continue to document the opportunity gap, and it should come as no surprise that it is not improving.

Now that the official scores have been recently released by the ODE, we are seeing some articles trying to draw some conclusions about the merit of the test and the performance of the students.  Data can be interpreted in a variety of ways, some of which will support a predetermined assumption or result.  You can look at overall passing rates, growth formulas, and comparing school and district performance with statewide performance.

A congratulatory email from the superintendent in my district went out to all staff outlining our district’s performance against the state’s.  While we are a high-performing district with hard-working dedicated staff, many students are being left behind.  And if we are near the top, what about the rest of the students in other districts?  This breaks my heart, as students only get one chance to be in school.  

ODE says that the SBAC measures the achievement gap with about the same accuracy as the previous assessment.  What is the purpose of this measurement?  

Patricia Muller
McMinville ELL Teacher

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent article! I am glad I found your blog!! It is excellent! I will be an avid reader for sure. We too are using SBAC in FL. I downloaded the state testing contract......shame on them for this massive scam they are perpetrating on our kids.