Saturday, May 3, 2008

Testing, testing, testing and more testing

Poor grade prompts new plan for students Published Wednesday April 30th, 2008

FREDERICTON - A day after it was announced that New Brunswick students again scored at the bottom of the pack in countrywide testing, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock unveiled a plan he hopes will significantly strengthen those results.

Lamrock visited the École des Bâtisseurs in Fredericton on Tuesday to announce a number of reforms aimed at boosting the literacy, numeracy and science skills of francophone students.

"In light of New Brunswick's repeated low academic scores on international and national assessments, we must act urgently and at as early an age as possible," Lamrock said.
These early evaluations will be followed by additional provincial assessments in math in Grade 3, literacy in Grade 4, French language arts in Grade 5 and natural science in Grade 8.

That's on top of existing evaluations in literacy in Grade 2, science in Grade 5, French language arts in Grades 8 and 11 and math in Grades 5, 8 and 11.

Despite Lamrock's enthusiasm, Monique Caissie, vice-president of the province's francophone teachers association, was not impressed by the new evaluation scheme.

There's no evidence to show that adding more standardized assessments will boost student performance, Caissie said.

"Adding more tests is not the answer. Studies show that's not really the way to go," she added.

Instead, the province should focus on adding more resources and staff so that teachers can spend more time and attention on working individually with students, Caissie said.

Choice comments on this article from the Telegraph-Journal website:

Hum... I wonder who will do all those evaluations. Doug Willms?
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Anonymous Reader on 30/04/08, 6:52:40 AM ADT

Wouldn't eliminiation of the early English immersion program solve the problem of low scores for the Francophone students? Oops ... there is no early English immersion. If that is the case why isn't Mr. Lamrock leaving the Early French immersion program alone and addressing the real problem as he is proposing to do for the Francophone students? Someone has painted hinself in a corner.
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Anonymous Reader on 30/04/08, 7:12:08 AM ADT

What can be done to stop this idiot??? How much more damage will he do before the 2010 election??
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Anonymous Reader on 30/04/08, 7:30:53 AM ADT

Take more tests we'll get better scores.
Eliminate EFI we'll get better scores.
It's starting to sound like we're grasping at straws.
At least with more testing it will give me more opportunities to feel bad that my youngest is doing poorly in Core because my oldest is doing well in EFI.
How about we actually take our time and figure out what the problem really is instead of throwing money into tests that are going to tell us what we already know.
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Anonymous Reader on 30/04/08, 7:53:30 AM ADT

Let me guess, more funds for Doug Willms (KSI) to do testing in NB. Not a surprising development. How much more money can we pay this guy? Did any children in the NB school system that were tested for "early intervention" this winter get their results yet? So much for early intervention this year. Give us a break from new announcments. Start dealing with the mess you are creating with Education in NB. Stop all the radical changes now. Start spending money on resources like books, TA's., and inclusion in EFI. NB is not a lab experiment for an amatuer Education minister and his social scientist buddy, Willms. Stop experimenting with our children, start listening to their parents and their teachers. You did not get elected on this platform and you have no ethical right to make these changes when all the experts are against them except for Willms, who will benefit financially from testing conducted in NB. Please Mr. Graham, enough is enough, remove Lamrock before he does more damage.
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Anonymous Reader on 30/04/08, 7:56:54 AM ADT

Concerns about the focus on testing have been raised in the NB Teachers Association Newsletter. See below:

Page 5, NBTA News, April 23, Vol. L, No.8.

High Stakes Testing

The March issue of Educational Leadership includes an article that many educators can relate to “Testing the Joy Out of Learning” by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner cautions us against creating school cultures that are dominated by high stakes tests. The culture of overvaluing testing and under-valuing learning is one that educators must consciously fight against. “The time spent talking about, preparing for and taking tests has increased exponentially.” This focus on testing has resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum and can end up demotivating both students and teachers. (Not to mention the astronomical amounts of money spent in the creation, administration, marking and marketing of these high stakes tests!).

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