Trying to get to the bottom of what, if anything, students sign to promise non-disclosure of Pearson’s exam content, I was pointed towards this form…
I have so many questions, such as does a parent signing this legally bind their child to the agreement? And what if a parent is not able to read and comprehend that contract? Do parents really understand fully what they are signing? Does every student/parent get a copy of the PTE Test Taker handbook to peruse? … and so on.
But what I want to ask most of all is this…
And who ensures that data is safe?
Year 1 Phonics Screening check
In England, the government introduced the Year 1 Phonics screening test in June last year.
• It is an unseen paper, it is administered by the class teacher individually.
• The children have to read 40 words, 20 of which are non words. Last year’s pass mark was 32.
• The results are put on Raise Online and are available to the LEA and Ofsted alongside the KS1 and KS2 SATs results. Poor results can trigger an Ofsted.
• In the pilot 34% of children passed.
These words especially on part 2 of the test are at the level of difficulty you would find in a level 2 reading book. However, Year 2 children who score a Level 2 in the SATs reading test are not expected to read these words out of context.
If they pass they get just that, a pass, whether by 1 word or by being completely correct. Similarly if they are one word under they get the word fail and that’s it. No level, no support to make further progress just that one word fail.
This is not a reading test, it is a test of decoding. It is not about confidence as a reader, about fluency or comprehension. All the strategies that you use as a fluent reader are not being tested.
All children have to do this test. And if they fail it the first time they get to repeat it in year 2 – double the humiliation because then they will have had a year of stressed parents and probably teachers too trying to get them to achieve what just may be impossible.
What we do about phonics.
We do a well known scheme sold by one of the advisors on the test. We used our matched funding and spent £12,000 on resources to start. Now each year most of the English budget will be spent on consumable resources that we will continue to need to buy.
As for the scheme we are using if I say give yourselves a lorry driver….or an elvis…..maybe that would help?
Some children respond very well to it and they develop decoding skills they may not if we didn’t do it.
The pace is fast and some of the activities are fun.
The children do love the praise and encouragement aspects.
The structure of the scheme shows children the progress they are making.
Our Teacher Aides now feel very involved in the teaching and learning during these sessions.
We now stream children from the first term in Reception.
Most of our English time is now spent on this as we do it 4 days a week.
The children are assessed every 6 weeks purely on their phonics decoding skills and graded according to that. If they struggle with comprehension they struggle every day as the comprehension skills are assumed to be at a similar level.
The children can also struggle with writing which again is assumed to be at the same level at their decoding skills. In my group I have children who can identify and blend sounds and read many simple words but cannot write cvc words confidently. They are writing streams of letters and feeling failure every day.
The amount of time spent assessing and managing the scheme takes a great deal of my year group leader time.
My experiences with the test.
I spent two full days out of my class doing these tests. Some children coped very well and some enjoyed the 1-1 time with me. Others did not fair so well.
One child told me her mother told her she would be happy if she passed the test and would buy her a present. Her mum would be sad if she failed the test.
I could have told her mum she was going to be sad before her child came into the room and started shaking.
One child spent 10 minutes talking about how much he loved aliens and what he would say to the aliens if he met them before he started the test. He failed. I felt that the test was set up for the children to fail. They went straight in with alien words, not even starting with real words to allow the children to feel success from the start. The ‘real’ words included ‘jazz’ and ‘lords’ which do not appear in many 5 year olds’ reading books, so most children did not recognise them. Even the early stage 1 words were not simple well known words at all.
The advice that came with the tests states that you should say the alien words are the aliens’ names, I would not do that as none of the words started with a capital letter which would make my more able children even more confused.
Oh and yes my more able readers did indeed try to make real words out of the alien words. Strom became storm for most of my children.
We had around a 60% pass rate and we were pleased about that for the children’s sake. We were not observed by our LA who had to monitor a percentage of schools. That is probably a good thing as I passed a couple of children with speech impediments they probably would have made me fail as the advice on SEN is typically vague.
I hated the process of writing the letter that, however we tried to make it sound positive, included the names of 5 and 6 year old children and the word fail.
We then had a meeting with some very confused and upset parents and tried to reassure them that the world had not ended and their children were not stupid.
This year the 40% of our year 2s that failed will be retaking the test.
Our 6 year 1 classes will be taking the test.
4 new year 1 teachers will be trained on how to carry out the test.
5 year 2 teachers will need to be trained on how to carry out the test.
We will need to have 3 supply teachers in every day for a week plus one day the next week to catch up on those that are absent.
Although we are a classed as a good school, a neighbouring school is about to become an academy, so any weak link…..our results matter….the pressure is on.
We have a bulge class of 30 children 24 of them had never attended school before they joined us in October this year…we have now been told we cannot separate their results… we are vulnerable.
by Jennie Harper, Teacher, UK
Over 100 academics last week wrote to Andreas Schleicher at the OECD asking that PISA tests be halted. The Guardian, along with many others, ran articles on this – and the Guardian’s article elicited a response from Schleicher, in which he says
“There is nothing that suggests that Pisa, or other educational comparisons, have caused a “shift to short-term fixes” in education policy. On the contrary, by opening up a perspective to a wider range of policy options that arise from international comparisons, Pisa has provided many opportunities for more strategic policy design. It has also created important opportunities for policy-makers and other stakeholders to collaborate across borders. The annual International Summit of the Teaching Profession, where ministers meet with union leaders to discuss ways to raise the status of the teaching profession, is an example. Not least, while it is undoubtedly true that some reforms take time to bear fruit, a number of countries have in fact shown that rapid progress can be made in the short term, eg Poland, Germany and others making observable steady progress every three years…”
Harvey Goldstein responded to that letter and, as The Guardian didn’t print it, he has given me permission to share it here:
To: Editor, The Guardian
Andreas Schleicher (letters May 8) claims that, as a result of educational policy changes induced by PISA comparisons, ” a number of countries have in fact shown that rapid progress can be made in the short term”. What he means, of course, is that by concentrating efforts on performing well on the PISA tests these countries have managed to climb up the PISA rankings. This is, however, precisely the point made in the letter to him from a number of academics, including myself, to which he is responding. What we were objecting to was the way in which the relentless cycle of global testing impoverishes educational systems by promoting educational uniformity via concentration on performing well on globally standardised tests.
In fact, as Dr Schleicher well knows but refuses to acknowledge, PISA results in themselves are unable to tell us why particular countries do well or badly, and the results are typically interpreted by policymakers in order to justify their own existing predilections for curriculum reform. As we suggested in our letter, this is a good time for OECD to reflect on its PISA (and similar) programmes by suspending the next round of testing and instituting a global debate that involves all stakeholders.
Read more on PISA here:
STANDARDIZED Lies, Money, & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education.
This documentary focuses on the proliferation, business,and inadequacies of state-mandated testing in our public schools.
It focuses on America but is every bit as pertinent to what is happening in New Zealand; we may not be as far down the track as the USA , but we are on the same path.
Whenever a new education policy is announced, I would ask you to come back to this: follow the money.
Who stands to benefit? Because with testing now a multi TRILLION $$$ industry worldwide, you can bet your bottom dollar it isn’t students or parents that are the main concern.
The doco will be out later in the year, but here is a sneak peek.
Unhappy with news that England is to begin testing its 4 year olds and even 2 year olds, New Zealand Education Minister Hekia Parata has been busy this weekend not only avoiding the mounting calls for her to resign but also trying to figure out how to win in this increasingly tricky race for data.
After careful and open consultation with people she knew would agree with her, she has decided that henceforth all children should be tested in utero.
To avoid cheating and ensure the data is rigorous enough to share with businesses, mothers will be blindfolded and gagged so they can’t give their progeny help with the tests. Consideration is also being given to the idea of putting mothers’ heads in vacuum flasks so that they cannot pass on information by telepathy.
ACT raised the very real concern that twin and triplicate pregnancies could lead to siblings cheating. In has been agreed that, in this instance, the babies may be induced early so that they can be tested in separate rooms.
Education and medical specialists have raised concerns, which Hekia dismissed as “The usual hoohah from those with a vested interest in the status quo,” adding that it is “essential that five out of five unborn children have the right to know where to put an apostrophe and how to share a pizza fairly between five people.”
National Standards data will be published by Stuff.co.nz so that would-be parents can judge which doctors would give their unborn children the best chance of success. Doctors and midwives may, admitted Parata, be paid according to how clever the babies they deliver are.
Fetuses will also be allocated National Student Numbers (NSN) as soon as the little blue line appears on the stick, so they can be tracked through the system.
Parata was heard to mutter, as she walked out of the press conference, “Beat that Gove.”
I am a mother. My banshee is 5. He just started school. He was excited – I was excited – school is fabulous. We both knew he would have a ball, learning new things, meeting new friends, having super experiences – and indeed he is. He loves it.
Thankfully has no idea of the GERMy things infecting his happy world of learning:
He has been allocated a National Student Number to track him throughout his education. His results, standards, and lord knows what else is being stored against this number. I can’t opt him out of this – trust me I have asked. He and every child in or entering the system as of the 2014 school year has an NSN, and god only knows what they are recording about him.
The data can be passed on by government to anyone they deem suitable. See that little bit there on the Ministry page that says the “National Student Number (NSN) is a unique identifier that can be used by authorised users for .. research purposes.” Yes, about that..
Because given this government’s record with our private data, and given its record on favouring business over academics, I have to say I worry. In the USA, student data is given to private companies and the likes of The Gates Foundation without any permission sought from or given by parents. And Mr Gates has his own agenda.
But it’s okay, because “The Education Act 1989 includes an offence provision, with a penalty up to a maximum of $15,000, for a conviction of misuse of the National Student Number (NSN).” Oh that’s fine then – a hefty fine like that is sure to scare off your average education reformer billionaire.
So, should we worry? Well, hell yes.
Of student data collection, Diane Ravitch said “If anyone thinks for one New York minute that the purpose of creating this database is simply for the good of teachers and students then that person is credulous in the extreme.”
My child and yours are now a government commodity.
Soon, he will be deemed well above, above, at or below standard for numeracy, reading and writing. Those labels will be added to the above data set. They are not there for him or for his teacher (who is marvellous, I might add). They are there for politicians. Make no bones about that.
And what joy for those students in small communities where they are easily identifiable, who find themselves highlighted in the national press as failing. What a treat when a student’s results are displayed in the classroom for all to see.
That must be a real inspiration for them.
Because nothing motivates someone to improve more than telling them they are below standard and then sharing that information far and wide.
Sooner or later, there will be pressure for the banshee to get up to speed with anything he is “behind” with. I don’t mean encouragement – I mean pressure. The majority of teachers will resist political pressure and carry on teaching to his interests and strengths, moving him forward appropriately from where he is to the next level. But when the message teachers are getting is that all that matters is National Standards levels, eventually pressures come to bear:
“So a couple of weeks ago when his new teacher told me he had to stay in at lunchtime to complete his writing, I was shocked. I understand he is a dreamy and imaginative child, and that he needs supervision to complete tasks sometimes (which drives me mad), but I have no idea how any teacher EVER thinks it’s ok to keep a five year old in at lunchtime. Really, what kind of system thinks punishment is a motivator?” Source
These are children, not robots. They learn like they grow – in fits and bursts, not on an easily measured path. Of course their learning needs to be tracked – in fact teachers always have tested in-class and tracked growth, so that students and teachers know what the next goals will be. But to be pushed to learn at a certain speed, as if all kids should hit targets at the same time, is not sound practice.
Sadly, National Standards is encouraging just that, and this is the type of thing we will see more and more of: Whether his teacher or school tries to mitigate it or not, education establishments are under pressure to hit politically-motivated targets, and this will inevitably filter down. Most schools do a great job of not letting students see the pressures on the school to hoop jump, but if things carry on the way they are going, teachers may not find it so easy to keep that pressure out of the classroom, even for new entrants.
The USA is years down this data-obsessed, privatisation-motivated path of lunacy, and this is what successive reforms have reduced them to:
“My kindergarteners had their standardized computerized test today. There were over 100 questions. Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse is available. One class took five hours to finish. Kids crying in 4 of 5 classes.” Source
How long until this is the fate of Kiwi kids?
You might be thinking “Oh, well, it sounds dodgy, but you can always opt out of the National Student Number and/or National Standards if you dislike them so much.”
Well, you would think so, eh? The child being mine, and all.
But no, you cannot opt out.
Just let me say that again – you, the parent, or you the student cannot opt out of having a National Student Number and having your data collected and stored and shared around by the government with whoever they see fit without your permission.
You the parent or you the student cannot refuse to be part of National Standards.
So, next time government tell you all of these changes are about parental choice, ask them about your choice to opt out. Where did that go? **
Possibly the same place it went for these US children who were pulled out of classrooms by CPS investigators for individual interviews about this month’s test boycott — without teacher or parental permission.
Intimidating children? Ignoring parents? This is where 20 years of reforms has got the USA. New Zealand is only a few years down the line of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), but already we are seeing the same disregard for what parents want.
I ask again, where is my choice to opt out?
People – many for the first time – are joining the dots and seeing that it’s not a few little things here and there but a concerted plan to change the face of our education system to an increasingly privatised one.
A crisis is being manufactured that just does not exist.
You want to now who’s pulling the global strings behind the GERM? You could start by reading this to see Bill Gates’ part in it all.
Whanau and Educationalists want to improve our education system. It’s good but it could be better, and they recognise that. They do not want it to stand still.
Students and teachers have much in common: they do their best work when supported, encouraged and know that what they are doing is of value. And neither achieves their best when pressured, bullied and given unsound hoops to jump through, like monkeys at a tea party.
So, when next Hekia Parata tells you that what she is doing is in the interests of the children, ask yourself this:
Is it really for the children?
Who else stands to benefit?
** NOTE: “”Differences from state schools:
Private schools are not required to follow the Government’s National Education Guidelines. This means that they do not have to follow the New Zealand Curriculum or comply with the National Standards’ requirements.”” http://www.ero.govt.nz/Review-Process/For-Schools-and-Kura-Kaupapa-Maori/Reviews-of-Private-Independent-Schools – which rather begs the question of why not, if they are meant to be sooooo darned useful?
Testing should inform the teacher and student about where the student is now, and allow them to plan where to go next.
It should not be a stick with which to beat either the student or the teacher.
The results are used for all manner of things.
In some districts, students are forbidden to graduate school if their test scores are not high enough.
In some schools, teachers are sacked if their students’ scores are deemed too low for that year.
Why? It is leading to a “drill and kill” style of schooling where all that matters is the test.
The testing companies. They make millions. Billions.
Pearson has a five-year, US $468 million contract to create Texas maths tests alone.
Tests that have been found to have serious errors.
Meanwhile, as testing companies rack up the profits, who loses?
– Students who get a narrow curriculum that does not value an enquiring mind.
– Teachers who are sacked on very dubious grounds because of these dodgy tests results.
– The 99%, as our education system is systematically pillaged.
This is how one 14 year old A grade student felt when sitting one of these tests:
~ A 14 Year Old Speaks Out About Testing ~
“Today I have experienced one of the most confidence breaking and mind troubling obstacles in my entire life; the Algebra 1 Keystone exam for the State of Pennsylvania. When I sat down to take this standardized test, I did not know what I was getting myself into. My math teacher had been preparing us for this test, but even with all that drill and practice, my mind could not take it all in.
The first 14 questions took me over 10 minutes each when I was trying to solve the unfamiliar equations, long word problems, and words I didn’t even know how to pronounce. I was telling myself that I was going to be fine until all of the stress overwhelmed my body. I was frustrated. “I should know this,” I thought. I wasn’t even half way done when they announced that there were only 10 minutes remaining. I only completed my first set of grueling questions, and still had another set of them and 2 short answer sections containing at least 6 more questions each. I wouldn’t get help from a,b,c or d with these.
At that moment, my mind broke down. I was telling myself that I was stupid, and that these kinds of tests make me feel like I don’t know anything. After hours of work, I still had so much more. It is extremely difficult to continue concentrating at the same intense level as you did when you first started. I was sick and tired of looking at those same boring Algebra problems.
I am an A average student all around, and score advanced on PSSA’s. But I couldn’t even read the next problem without all of those discouraging thoughts spiraling in my mind. I tried telling myself to pull through, but I found myself not caring anymore, and just wanting to circle some letter. I did that for two or three questions and stopped.
I dropped my pencil on my desk, tried taking some deep breaths, and thought of ripping my booklet into shreds. I poked holes in my booklet with my pencil, and started squeezing my hands tightly as if I was going to explode. I was that angry, outraged, fuming.
I felt so incredibly frustrated that these stupid test companies don’t care what they are doing to the students of our country. All they want is the money, and the worst part is, nothing is being done to stop them. Why don’t the politicians making my generation the most over tested in history try the tests for themselves? I bet most of them would fail or do poorly. I mean, if smart, educated people don’t do well on these tests, than what do they show?
These Keystone tests are breaking kids down, making us feel dumb and not want to learn, instead of making us want to enjoy the wonders and greatness of education. I know that when most people in my grade hear the words, standardized testing, no one is jumping up and down with excitement.
I am an 8th grade student in the Lower Merion School District: a district known for their excellent education. When kids here are complaining about how difficult it is for us to take these tests, who knows what kids in struggling school districts are experiencing. Why should these tests be a graduation requirement for high school?
After my big meltdown from the frustration of not knowing how in the world to do these problems, I didn’t continue my test. I told the guidance counselor I couldn’t take it any more, and how it made me feel horrible inside. Although I kept calm on the outside, on the inside I was bomb about to explode. I was holding back my tears.
I bet many other kids felt this same way, even if it wasn’t as strongly as I felt. I will tell you one thing, I am never taking one of those tests again. No test shall ever make me feel as low and deflated as I did today. I don’t care what alternative project I have to do in exchange for the Keystone test. Let me be exempted. No one should experience what I have experienced today. Standardized testing needs to be stopped.”
By Jordyn Schwartz
Jordyn’s letter can be found here.
We are not at this stage yet in Aotearoa, thank goodness. But it’s closer than you think. In the USA it’s entrenched and the same is true of Australia… And in NZ the upcoming PaCT system – a computerised National Standards assessment tool – will bring us one step closer to this horror here.
This is why a strong coalition of principal and teacher leaders rejected the Government’s decision to make PaCT mandatory from 2015. They want to keep teaching and learning authentic.
But the Ministry is not above bullying and threatening schools to gain compliance.
Which means any resistance must come also from parents and students: Prepare to fight to protect our schools from this madness.
“May 25, 2013
Read the rest here: An open letter to Bill Gates from an overwhelmed teacher.
This news article is from Nashville, where charter schools are popular and are said to get good results. Have a read below or watch the newscast, and spot the problems:
“Leaders with Metro Nashville Public Schools have serious concerns about what is happening at some of the city’s most popular charter schools.
Students are leaving in large numbers at a particularly important time of the school year, and the consequences may have an impact on test scores.
Charter schools are literally built on the idea that they will outperform public, zoned schools. They are popular because they promise and deliver results, but some new numbers are raising big questions about charter schools.
One of the first things a visitor sees when stepping into Kipp Academy is a graph that shows how Kipp is outperforming Metro schools in every subject.
However, Kipp Academy is also one of the leaders in another stat. that is not something to crow about.
When it comes to the net loss of students this year, charter schools are the top eight losers of students.
In fact, the only schools that have net losses of 10 to 33 percent are charter schools.
“We look at that attrition. We keep an eye on it, and we actually think about how we can bring that back in line with where we’ve been historically,” said Kipp Principal Randy Dowell.
Dowell said Kipp’s 18 percent attrition is unacceptable.
MNPS feels it’s unacceptable as well, because not only are they getting kids from charter schools, but they are also getting troubled kids and then getting them right before testing time.
“That’s also a frustration for the zoned-school [public school] principals. They are getting clearly challenging kids back in their schools just prior to accountability testing,” said MNPS Chief Operating Officer Fred Carr.
Nineteen of the last 20 children to leave Kipp Academy had multiple out-of-school suspensions. Eleven of the 19 are classified as special needs, and all of them took their TCAPs at Metro zoned schools, so their scores won’t count against Kipp.
“We won’t know how they perform until we receive results and we see. We would be happy to take their results, frankly. The goal is getting kids ready for college. The goal is not having shiny results for me or for anyone on the team,” Dowell said.
Kipp Academy has started new counseling groups to try to retain children.
MNPS said it constantly sees charters being held up as the model, but feels these numbers prove the two different types of schools play by different rules.”
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Judge for yourself whether Kipp have the right to shout out about better test scores when this is how they treat the most needy and vulnerable of students.
A good school teaches and takes care of ALL of its kids.
First they came for the trained teachers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a teacher.
Then they came for the special needs children,
and I didn’t speak out because my child didn’t have special needs.
Then they came for the schools,
and I didn’t speak out because there were other schools.
Then they came for free public education
and I didn’t speak out because I was exhausted.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
It’s no understatement to say there is an attack under way in education around the world. Corporate reformers have realised how much money there is to be made off the back of our kids’ education, and man are they going to damned well get a finger in that pie.
Global reform goes like this:
And who profits? Is it the kids? Is it the parents?
Or is it the big companies like Pearson, Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify, The Gates Foundation and so on, who are all so fond of promoting education reforms and just happen to have goodies for sale in that arena, too. (But they only do it for the kids y’all…)
“Now, let’s get back to the business of sucking every last penny out of Mr. and Mrs. Average Knucklehead.”
Taking Murdoch’s Amplify as an example… the Tablet Plus costs US$349 per device, and requires a two-year contract. That contract will set you back $179 a year. The tablet itself has just a one year guarantee. So, over US$700 per tablet and they want one for each kid in each classroom in the whole school. Yes, that sure as heck looks like a nice money spinner. And oh look! Mr Murdoch has his own newspaper and TV news empire that can promote such ideas. How nice for him.
Sure, sometimes they get caught out, like Pearson did here… but how often do you reckon they get away with it? Walk off with Millions of tax dollars that could have been better spent on the kids’ education?
But hey, so long as we go whizzing into the 22nd Century and beyond with a couple of Android tablets and some cool apps, who cares. It’s not like we can teach using books and pens, is it…
Is this just happening in America?
Well no, there’s a fair bit going on in England, Australia, and it’s creeping into Aotearoa, too. Let’s look at Aus just last week:
“An urgent inquiry will be held into the impact high-stakes Naplan testing is having on kids, amid growing concern over the pressure applied by schools and parents to students”.
And these are not benign changes and not even just crass for the obvious siphoning off of education dollars. They are not good for kids, either. Children are showing high levels of stress around testing in Aus, and the same thing happens in the UK when SATS take place.
Is this really necessary in order to get a good education? I do have to wonder, when Finnish students have the shortest school days and only one national test at the age of 15 and yet constantly are one of the top 5 in the world for education, whether we are being sold snake oil.
I look forward to seeing what the Naplan report says, at the end of June…
And you might be forgiven for thinking “Wellll, this is not in NZ, this is Australia, this is the USA, we’ll be right…”
Speak out about this lunacy.
It is not good education. It does not improve children’s learning (often quite the opposite).
It is not for choice or for equality or for raising the bar: It is for making money for a small select few.
If you sit by and don’t make a stand, sooner or later the reforms will affect you, and who will be left to shout on your behalf?
Further reading & viewing:
I’m thinking we should tell the kids to take up sport and schmoozing, and give the rest a miss.
Just a thought.