State Test Results Questioned

 

Minnesota education officials this week credited tougher standards and a new online testing system as part of the reason 5 percent more students passed the state’s math test this year than last. Brenda Cassellius, the state’s education commissioner, predicted that those tougher standards, adopted in 2007, will lead to continued improvement down the road.

Some testing experts in the state suggest, however, that gains this year had more to do with how the new online test was given than anything else.

The nearly 9 out of 10 students in grades 3 through 8 who took the online version of the test had the opportunity to take it up to three times. The highest score was counted.

David Heistad, director of research, evaluation and assessment at the Bloomington Public Schools, told the (Minneapolis) StarTribune that it’s equivalent to dealing a card player three cards instead of one, and letting him choose the best one.

“It increases the probability of having a good hand like it increases the probability of a good score,” he said. “The math scores are real problematic this year.”

While the state’s Department of Education didn’t indicate what percentage of students took the online test multiple times, Keith Hovis, a department spokesman, said it was common for students to take the test multiple times.

Next year, students will be allowed to take the online exam only once, although schools can offer two online practice exams before the state test.

Hovis says seeing multiple test results helped teachers focus on problem areas and practice exams will be similarly helpful next year. “It really helped make the class time and teaching more efficient,” he says.

Questions about Minnesota’s math gains come amid controversies about standardized testing in other states this week as well.

The Texas Tribune highlighted findings by a University of Texas professor suggesting that the state’s standardized tests are flawed and more focused on ranking students against each other than showing how much students have learned.

In Florida, state Education Commissioner Gerald Robinson resigned Tuesday after facing criticism for how his department handled a huge decline in the percentage of students passing the state’s standardized tests and mistakes in the state’s grading of schools, according to the Miami Herald.

After tougher standards led to huge declines in passing rates across the state, the department lowered the passing grade in May. Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott questioned whether students are being tested too much.

Raising the same concerns, a growing number of school districts in Florida and Texas, among other states, have formally protested what they see as excessive state testing, as the Wall Street Journal reported in May.

 
X

Related Stories

    • Stateline Story
    April 23, 2010
    image description

    TODAY'S TAKE: Alaska and Texas raised eyebrows last year when they declined to join the "Race to the Top," the Obama administration's effort to revamp the nation's K-12 schools by handing out $4.35 billion in grants to states that change their education policies. But with 40 jurisdictions applying and only two winners announced in the first round of the competition, more states are deciding not to participate in round two.
    more

    • Stateline Story
    June 14, 2013
    How Did States Create Jobs? image description

    States this year awarded tax breaks to businesses, touted worker-training programs and even poached jobs from each other to boost their economies and create work for the nearly 12 million Americans still unemployed.

    more

    • Stateline Story
    September 2, 2008
    image description

    Sept. 2, 2008, 1:30 p.m. EDTST. PAUL, Minn. - Hurricane Gustav forced some of the biggest stars in the Republican Party to stay at home to help their consitutents battle the storm that many feared would rival Hurricane Katrina of just three years ago.   But four of the five affected southern Republican governors addressed the opening session of the 2008 Republican National Convention Monday (Sept. 1) via taped messages. "I'm sure you can understand why Gov. Jindal couldn't participate," first lady Laura Bush said as she introduced the taped messages, referring to Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as his state was being pounded by Gustav's strong winds and rain.   Jindal had been rumored to be, among others, on Republican John McCain's shortlist of possible vice presidential picks before the senator chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.   President Bush had been scheduled to address the delegates Monday but instead went to Texas to monitor the storm. The administration had been widely criticized for its handling of Hurricane Katrina. Some Republicans, notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry, stressed that the GOP was ready. "You're seeing Republican governors ... doing a fabulous job of taking care of the citizens. That's what we do," he said via videotape.Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Hurricane Gustav   The first lady also noted the governors of the affected states "happen to be Republicans," which drew a thunderous applause from the delegates at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.   Florida Charlie Crist, another Republican governor who also was seen as a possible VP candidate, took a less partisan approach in his remarks, remembering his experience during last month's Tropical Storm Fay: "As I traveled our state in the days following Fay's landfall, I was reminded again of the resilience and strength of our people. The kindness they extend to one another. Neighbor helping neighbor. Asking not what party you are, but instead how you can help."   Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour also gave videotaped messages. Governor Jindal said Monday that seven states are helping Louisiana to shelter more than 29,000 citizens at 107 shelters. Texas has offered to shelter several thousand patients, Oklahoma has agreed to accept 4,000 general evacuees, and 150 medical patients from southwest Louisiana hospitals are expected to arrive at the Oklahoma Air National Guard Base at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City today.   The state Republican chairmen from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas formed a working group "to regularly brief their delegates and convention planners, provide access to timely information and assistance, and give input on appropriate steps that can be taken from Minnesota."   The McCain 2008 campaign also agreed to charter a DC-9 to transport delegates who wished to return to home to their states.AFTER THE JUMP: More video footage of the governors on Hurricane Gustav.   - Pamela M. Prah Comments
    more

    • Stateline Story
    October 11, 2002
    image description

    Vouchers are out. After-school programs are in. Education reform is a perennial at the ballot box, but the initiatives that voters will examine Nov. 5 go beyond the standard subjects. more

    • Stateline Story
    June 2, 2000
    image description

    In February, Stateline.org reported that seven states were considering abandoned baby laws; that number has now climbed to at least 23. Since mid-April alone, Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, and West Virginia have enacted abandoned baby or "safe haven" laws, often in response to tragic stories of infants left in dumpsters, alleyways, shallow graves, public restrooms or parking lots. For an in-depth report on this policy trend, click on more

PCS.PRODUCTION.1.20140221.1210 (PEWSUWVMWAPP01)