Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tests and Promotion

Parents can opt out of state assessments such as the PSSA's and Keystone exams.  Parents can also opt out of specific instruction.  One of the push backs parents are getting from teachers and administrators about opting out of test prep such as CDT's and Study Island is that students are graded on these.  There are a variety of ways students are assessed throughout the school year that does not include test prep.

Here is what Chapter 4 says about how students are assessed:

 (c)  The local assessment system shall be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies which may include the following:

   (1)  Written work by students.
   (2)  Scientific experiments conducted by students.
   (3)  Works of art or musical, theatrical or dance performances by students.
   (4)  Other demonstrations, performances, products or projects by students related to specific academic standards.
   (5)  Examinations developed by teachers to assess specific academic standards.
   (6)  Nationally-available achievement tests.
   (7)  Diagnostic assessments.
   (8)  Evaluations of portfolios of student work related to achievement of academic standards.
   (9)  Other measures as appropriate, which may include standardized tests.

Source:  § 4.52. Local assessment system.


For any of you who have Twitter, you might find this interesting. Students tweet about the PSAT 2015:

Here are some things I’ve seen about it from different people.

1) One school board member said her daughter took the old SAT’s last week and felt comfortable with them. Took the new PSAT’s and is really concerned. Very strange and difficult (or wrong) Q&A’s. 

The English used poor English for example a choice to replace the word 'temporary' was "flash in a pan" or "no changes" but she selected no changes because she would never speak like that. The religion question was same last year she marked other because it had every denomination of Christian but not just Christian. It sounds like it was a poorly written psychobabble test to me.she said lots of Twitter jokes about it from the kidsNot sure if “no changes” is really the right answer, but ‘flash in the pan’?  Is this the kind of thing we are teaching for important English knowledge?
2) My daughter and her classmates took the new PSAT yesterday. The ones I've heard from think it was harder than last year's PSAT (which they took as sophomores). Has anyone else heard anything about it?

The practice test on Khan Academy has some weirdly hard problems - some, like this, are hard because of the numbers they picked:

Question 25
Janice puts a fence around her rectangular garden. The garden has a
length that is 9 feet less than 3 times its width. What is the perimeter of
Janice’s fence if the area of her garden is 5,670 square feet?
A) 342 feet
B) 318 feet
C) 300 feet
D) 270 feet
A few were weirdly hard because they are topics my daughter recently did in AP Physics so they were ok for her, but I would imagine not ok for most:

Questions 30 and 31 refer to the following information.
(I can't copy/paste the physics equations for some reason)
An arrow is launched upward with an initial speed of 100 meters per second (m/s). The
equations above describe the constant- acceleration motion of the arrow, where v0 is the initial speed of the arrow, v is the speed of the arrow as it is moving up in the air, h is the height of the arrow above the ground, t is the time elapsed since the arrow was projected upward, and g is the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s2).
What is the maximum height from the ground the arrow will rise to the nearest meter?\I'm not sure if those are the kinds of things that made the actual test hard or not.
My daughter thought the reading was harder than the math, but the reverse was true for most of her friends.

3) Not sure about harder since this new version is the only one my son ever took. It's aligned to CC math, CC algebra in particular, which might be different than what kids are used to if they haven't learned it.  Cc algebra goes into algebra 2 topics.  There are 2 math sections and one does not allow calculator usage.  Some kids might perceive that as being harder.

I was unaware that the exam started with a half hours worth of personal questions including religion, me and my husband's education and other questions.

Other parents with older kids all seemed to know about this process from SAT and the Common App.  I naively thought the PSAT was a "get your feet wet thing." I'm still upset that College Board, without my knowledge or consent, is asking my child personal questions about himself and me and my husband.

I'm very disappointed my school guidance department for not sharing information about this with parents.  It's not mentioned in testing review books either.

4) Difficult numbers and fractions are the signature of CC math.   The kids probably would have had the calculator for that sort of question.

On the actual PSAT practice test, the non-calculator section math questions didn't involve any difficult numbers to cope with.