The Instigator
jk334511
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
TheLawIsOnMySide
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to k-12 education in the United States.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
jk334511
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2016 Category: Education
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 973 times Debate No: 84464
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

jk334511

Con

Why we don"t need standardized testing
Resolved: On Balance standardized testing is beneficial to k-12 education in the Unites States.
Standardized tests don"t provide any further information we don"t already know - Greg Jouriles 14
http://www.edweek.org...

There are two main arguments against using standardized tests to guarantee that students reach at least a basic level of academic competency. The first is radical: These tests are not necessary. The second"less radical and more familiar"is that, even if standardized testing were an efficient benchmark of basic skills, the costs associated with it are too high.
Standardized tests are unnecessary because they rarely show what we don't already know. Ask any teacher and they can tell you which students can read and write. That telling usually comes in the form of letter grades or evaluations that break down progress on skills. So trust the teacher. Publish grade distributions. Locally publish a compilation of evaluation reports. Release a state or national report reviewed and verified by expert evaluators with legislative oversight.
People will say: "That's crazy! Schools will fudge results. Grade data means nothing because teachers apply different standards with different values. Let's give them all one reliable test. And won't this proposal create a whole new bureaucracy?"
All true (except for the one test being reliable). Given high stakes and the accompanying pressure, people will game a system. And it is all too true that grades vary widely because of four factors: a teacher's conception of achievement, a teacher's sense of equity and rigor, a teacher's ability, and the composition of students.
But people are already gaming standardized testing, sometimes criminally. And, at a basic level of competency, a grade or an evaluative report would give us as much information as we now get from standardized tests.
We have the grade problem at my high school. In the same course or department, a B in one classroom might be an A, or even a C, in another. It's a problem for us, and, likely, a problem in most schools.
"To sum up, we don"t learn much from standardized accountability, and we have lost a great deal by giving it so much prominence."

But it has also been an opportunity. Recognizing our grading differences, we opted to create a common conception of achievement, our graduate profile, and department learning outcomes with rubrics. Our standards now align closely with the Common Core State Standards. Second, we created common performance tasks that measure these standards and formative assessments that scaffold to them. Third, we look together at student work. Fourth, we have begun to grade each other's students on these common tasks.
We could publish the results of these performance tasks, and the public would have a good idea of what we're good at and what we're not. For example, our students effectively employ reading strategies to comprehend a text, but are often stymied by a lack of vocabulary or complex syntax. We've also learned most of our students can coherently develop a claim, citing the appropriate evidence to support it when choosing from a restricted universe of data. They aren't as good when the universe of data is broadened. They are mediocre at analysis, counter-arguments, rebuttals, and evaluation of sources, though they have recently gotten better at evaluating sources as we have improved our instruction and formative assessments. A small percentage of our students do not show even basic competency in reading and writing.
That's better information than we've ever received from standardized testing. What's also started to happen is that teachers who use the same standards and rubrics, assign the same performance tasks, and grade each other's work are finding their letter grades starting to align.
And, this approach has led to a lot of frank discussions. For example, why are grades different? Where we have looked, different conceptions of achievement and rigor seem most important. So we have to talk about it. The more we do, the more aligned we will become, and the more honest picture of achievement we can create. It has been fantastic professional development"done without external mandates. We have a long way to go, but we can understand the value of our efforts and see improvement in student work.
I would not advocate publishing individual teachers' grades because it would cause the same problems as publishing individual teachers' standardized-test results, but grades by subject, grade level, and demographic categories could be fair game externally. Internally, those breakdowns should stimulate hard conversations and necessary professional development. Of course, this proposal would have to be negotiated and modified locally to avoid the punishment/reward cycle of other accountability measures that force people to conform and tempt them to cheat. The goal is to spur the collaboration and conversation necessary for improvement.
Well, that's your district, some might say. It's got a unique collaborative culture and a better sense of achievement than most. You can't do that across the nation.
Why not? With the common core, a definition of achievement exists. And teachers are more likely to respond to professional development and accountability more concretely connected to their daily work. They are more likely to improve.
That leads to the second argument. Even if standardized testing were not only desirable to give the public a picture of basic competencies, but also an efficient way to do so, the costs have been too great.
Many have previously made cogent arguments (unrealistic definitions of achievement, skewed instructional schemes, inequitable curricular offerings, inevitable corruption, perverted charter school missions, alienation, disempowerment, and embarrassment of educators, etc.) in this vein, but let's think about a supposed example of success on this front"a school with the high test scores.
In general, such a school has a compliant or affluent population. Test scores are a point of pride. The school has a good reputation. But, when you go in and observe, the teaching and learning do not impress.
Never once have I looked at the test scores of this kind of school and thought, "How could I be more like them?" That's because success represented just a score on a narrow test of a limited band of achievement (a test, by the way, with content that I was not even legally allowed to talk about), and I couldn't see how looking at that score could help me in my day-to-day teaching. Even worse, I don't think the teachers at such schools have learned much from their good scores. If anything, the scores have prevented them from becoming better.
So, to sum up, we don't learn much from standardized testing, and we have lost a great deal by giving it so much prominence. The common core is at risk for failure, not because the standards are bad per se, but because with standardized accountability, as in so many partial reforms, we again won't get a real picture of achievement, people will be disappointed, and the standards and testing will run their course.
Instead, why not just trust teachers and schools to report the progress of their students with the measures they have, and use internal and external local pressures to improve the measures and practices? It will avoid a plethora of social, emotional, and political costs. Any bureaucracy created can't be more of a drag on the government or economy than the legion of consultants and think tanks today feeding off the trough of education. This proposal is more in line with what we know about the success of sustainable local organizations and what we know about the inflated rise and inevitable fall of mass reform.
TheLawIsOnMySide

Pro

One thing you mentioned in your first argument is that any teacher can tell you that information about a child, but you are also forgetting the fact that teachers are human beings. A teacher will like one kid but have distaste for the other because of a paper he wrote about a topic. What I am basically saying is that people are not perfect, and asking the teacher what they think could place the student behind because of what they accidently said about the student. We also must remember that parents help out a lot these days. The "Star" student of the class may just be the star student because his mother helped him with that writing piece, or that math worksheet. Occasional standardized testing weeds out whether kids are stars because they are getting help from their parents, or because they are actually good students.
Debate Round No. 1
jk334511

Con

http://www.alternet.org...

Using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, a trend gaining steam in a growing number of states in recent years as a result of the federal "Race to the Top" program, isn"t about improving education. It is, and always has been, about ranking, sorting, and shaming schools and educators. But, just as controversial testing regimens don"t accurately capture student learning or progress in the classroom, standardized, homogenized teacher evaluations don"t capture what teachers do for students. Teaching and learning is hardly a beauty pageant. Educators and kids are more than a set of scores.
Still, Americans like information for its own sake; we like to create and consume lists and databases, analyses and reviews, to stare at numbers before we make decisions even if, like Yelp reviews, they"re as predictive as tea leaves.
Though a Virginia parent sued for teacher evaluation and observations to be made available to the public, educators who have been in the classroom know that the information published is little more reliable than that onratemyteacher.com (where, if you look me up, you"ll discover that I was simultaneously "the best," "the worst," "real cool," and "hype," as both compliment and insult). How does publishing a teacher"s standardized test results support students and teachers? How does it turn into anything more than an adult-world re-creation of class rank, where we are shamed into competing against each other instead of working together to actually improve? How does it do more for parents than chatting in the parking lot or posting on Facebook groups would do?
Evaluations based on testing don"t show the hours we teachers spend researching, planning, and reflecting on lessons that will never be listed on an evaluation form. The standardized tests on which our evaluations are based often don"t even align with the curricula we teach. And, instead of being an authentic element of ongoing professional growth and development, classroom observations have become just one more task for overburdened administrators to complete: even the best-intentioned principals often can"t find the time in their days to get into our classrooms to experience the interactions taking place among our students.
When I taught a reading program for 9th graders while still at Kensington CAPA High School in Philadelphia, my students began the year with an average reading level equivalent to a mid-term fourth grader. We created a safe space for learning, and worked hard, together; after a semester, most of my students improved by at least one grade level on reading assessments. The students felt pride in and ownership of their growth; my principal brought guests in to observe the great work that was going on in the program. But on state-mandated standardized tests, my students still scored "below basic" because even the two or three years of progress they made in one year meant that they were still reading at levels below what was expected of rising 10th graders. They were labeled failing; as their teacher, I was a failure, too. The tests could not show what was taking place in our classroom.
The woman dubbed "the worst teacher in New York" taught in just such a classroom, and the truth about her teaching couldn"t have been further from the picture the "rankings" (and then the press) painted of her. The tests and the evaluations that are based on them are unable to accurately portray what happens in classes and schools where students are mobile, speaking different languages, coming and leaving at different times during the school year, where students are already performing far above or below grade level, or where poverty is a factor in students" readiness for school and the resources available in schools themselves.
Just as all children are more than the sum of their test scores, so are their teachers. If you want to understand what"s going on in your child"s classroom,there are countless ways for parents and families to learn more and become more engaged in their childrens" education. If we work together " if you don"t listen to advocates who want the public to view teachers as the enemy in the battle to educate children "sharing notes and communicating about your child (and about the work he or she is doing in my class ), we can help your child succeed in my class and outside it. You"ll learn far more about me and about your child in my class from talking to me than looking up some unreliable, meaningless standardized test score online.
My colleagues and I actually crave feedback and opportunities to grow; we want professional observation and evaluation to be more in depth, intensive and useful. Our unions are leading the charge on this front, researching, developing training and models of effective teacher evaluation. We are constantly seeking better methods of helping our students. There are effective ways to engage with peers and principals to delve deeply into goals and practices in the classroom, and when we invest our time and resources into these best practices, teachers and students benefit.
But we must resist the urge to artificially simplify those necessarily complex and time consuming evaluations just to feed the data monster with statistics and test scores. Information is important, but context is everything " which is something we"d love to teach your kids, too, if we could only find some time in between test prep sessions.
TheLawIsOnMySide

Pro

TheLawIsOnMySide forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
jk334511

Con

Standardized Testing Undermines Teaching

http://www.npr.org...

Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch was once an early advocate of No Child Left Behind, school vouchers and charter schools.
In 2005, she wrote, "We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act. ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."
But four years later, Ravitch changed her mind.
"I came to the conclusion ... that No Child Left Behind has turned into a timetable for the destruction of American public education," she tellsFresh Air's Terry Gross. "I had never imagined that the test would someday be turned into a blunt instrument to close schools " or to say whether teachers are good teachers or not " because I always knew children's test scores are far more complicated than the way they're being received today."
No Child Left Behind required schools to administer yearly state standardized tests. Student progress on those tests was measured to see if the schools met their Adequate Yearly Progress goals. or AYP. Schools missing those goals for several years in a row could be restructured, replaced or shut down.
"The whole purpose of federal law and state law should be to help schools improve, not to come in and close them down and say, 'We're going to start with a clean slate,' because there's no guarantee that the clean slate's going to be better than the old slate," says Ravitch. "Most of the schools that will be closed are in poor or minority communities where large numbers of children are very poor and large numbers of children don't speak English. They have high needs. They come from all kinds of difficult circumstances and they need help " they don't need their school closed."
"What has happened ... is that [charter schools have] become an enormous entrepreneurial activity and the private sector has moved in," she says. "So there are now charter chains where the heads are paying themselves $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 a year. They compete with regular public schools. They do not see themselves as collaborators with public schools but business competitors and in some cases, they actually want to take away the public school space and take away the public school business."
Ravitch says that charter schools undercut the opportunities for public schools, making public school students feel like "second-class citizens."
"Regular public school parents are angry because they no longer have an art room, they no longer have a computer room " whatever space they had for extra activities gets given to the charters and then they have better facilities. They have a lot of philanthropic money behind them " Wall Street hedge fund managers have made this their favorite cause. So at least in [New York City] they are better-funded ... so they have better everything."
But change in the public schools is possible, says Ravitch, if parents work together.
"In the neighborhood where I live in Brooklyn, there was a school that was considered a bad public school and it enrolled many children from a local public housing project," she says. "But parents in the neighborhood who were middle-class parents and were educated people banded together and decided, 'Well, if we all send our child to the local public school, it will get better.' And it did get better and it's now one of the best schools in the city. So yes, you can change the neighborhood school. ... But school officials have a particular responsibility to make sure there's a good school in every neighborhood. And handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. It's simply a way of avoiding the public responsibility to provide good education."
TheLawIsOnMySide

Pro

TheLawIsOnMySide forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
jk334511

Con

Why Publishing a Teacher"s Standardized Test Results Is a Very Bad Idea
Using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, a trend gaining steam in a growing number of states in recent years as a result of the federal "Race to the Top" program, isn"t about improving education. It is, and always has been, about ranking, sorting, and shaming schools and educators. But, just as controversial testing regimens don"t accurately capture student learning or progress in the classroom, standardized, homogenized teacher evaluations don"t capture what teachers do for students. Teaching and learning is hardly a beauty pageant. Educators and kids are more than a set of scores.
Still, Americans like information for its own sake; we like to create and consume lists and databases, analyses and reviews, to stare at numbers before we make decisions even if, like Yelp reviews, they"re as predictive as tea leaves.
Though a Virginia parent sued for teacher evaluation and observations to be made available to the public, educators who have been in the classroom know that the information published is little more reliable than that onratemyteacher.com (where, if you look me up, you"ll discover that I was simultaneously "the best," "the worst," "real cool," and "hype," as both compliment and insult). How does publishing a teacher"s standardized test results support students and teachers? How does it turn into anything more than an adult-world re-creation of class rank, where we are shamed into competing against each other instead of working together to actually improve? How does it do more for parents than chatting in the parking lot or posting on Facebook groups would do?
Evaluations based on testing don"t show the hours we teachers spend researching, planning, and reflecting on lessons that will never be listed on an evaluation form. The standardized tests on which our evaluations are based often don"t even align with the curricula we teach. And, instead of being an authentic element of ongoing professional growth and development, classroom observations have become just one more task for overburdened administrators to complete: even the best-intentioned principals often can"t find the time in their days to get into our classrooms to experience the interactions taking place among our students.
When I taught a reading program for 9th graders while still at Kensington CAPA High School in Philadelphia, my students began the year with an average reading level equivalent to a mid-term fourth grader. We created a safe space for learning, and worked hard, together; after a semester, most of my students improved by at least one grade level on reading assessments. The students felt pride in and ownership of their growth; my principal brought guests in to observe the great work that was going on in the program. But on state-mandated standardized tests, my students still scored "below basic" because even the two or three years of progress they made in one year meant that they were still reading at levels below what was expected of rising 10th graders. They were labeled failing; as their teacher, I was a failure, too. The tests could not show what was taking place in our classroom.
The woman dubbed "the worst teacher in New York" taught in just such a classroom, and the truth about her teaching couldn"t have been further from the picture the "rankings" (and then the press) painted of her. The tests and the evaluations that are based on them are unable to accurately portray what happens in classes and schools where students are mobile, speaking different languages, coming and leaving at different times during the school year, where students are already performing far above or below grade level, or where poverty is a factor in students" readiness for school and the resources available in schools themselves.
Just as all children are more than the sum of their test scores, so are their teachers. If you want to understand what"s going on in your child"s classroom,there are countless ways for parents and families to learn more and become more engaged in their childrens" education. If we work together " if you don"t listen to advocates who want the public to view teachers as the enemy in the battle to educate children "sharing notes and communicating about your child (and about the work he or she is doing in my class ), we can help your child succeed in my class and outside it. You"ll learn far more about me and about your child in my class from talking to me than looking up some unreliable, meaningless standardized test score online.
My colleagues and I actually crave feedback and opportunities to grow; we want professional observation and evaluation to be more in depth, intensive and useful. Our unions are leading the charge on this front, researching, developing training and models of effective teacher evaluation. We are constantly seeking better methods of helping our students. There are effective ways to engage with peers and principals to delve deeply into goals and practices in the classroom, and when we invest our time and resources into these best practices, teachers and students benefit.
But we must resist the urge to artificially simplify those necessarily complex and time consuming evaluations just to feed the data monster with statistics and test scores. Information is important, but context is everything " which is something we"d love to teach your kids, too, if we could only find some time in between test prep sessions.

http://www.alternet.org...
TheLawIsOnMySide

Pro

TheLawIsOnMySide forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
*******************************************************************
>Reported vote: lannan13// Mod action: NOT Removed<

6 points to Con (Conduct, Arguments, Sources) Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture

[*Reason for non-removal*] Full forfeit debates are not moderated.
************************************************************************
Posted by rich123 1 year ago
rich123
Social and emotional skills surveys.
Very interesting read

www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/01/06/371659141/what-schools-could-use-instead-of-standardized-tests
Posted by TheFlyingPham 1 year ago
TheFlyingPham
The whole education system needs a reform.
Posted by moneystacker 1 year ago
moneystacker
I guess my question is what do you propose to replace standardized testing? I heard of one alternative local based testing to help with economic differences in communities but that failed to be used. It was proposed by some congressman but besides that.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
lannan13
jk334511TheLawIsOnMySideTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 1 year ago
FaustianJustice
jk334511TheLawIsOnMySideTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct due to forfeiture, and without belaboring the point, Con had the most convincing arguments, as Con was the only debater to actually make an argument.