Commentary: Reorienting the Purpose and Practice of Academic Assessment

Person filling in exam answers

Our K-12 schools are organized more like a swim meet than a swim lesson. The emphasis is on student placement results rather than on ensuring all students learn. Students move on to the next lesson, concept, or skill regardless of whether mastery was achieved at the previous level.

Donald P. Nielsen explains this analogy in Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education:

In a swimming meet, the purpose is to determine who is the fastest swimmer. In public schools we spend a lot of time grading students on what they have learned and then ranking them, rather than ensuring that every child has learned. What we need, however, is a public school system that is organized like a swimming lesson. In a swimming lesson, the instructor’s goal is different. The goal is to make sure all students, even the slowest, learn how to swim. Swimming meets can be a result of swimming lessons, and grading can be a result of learning, but ranking students by ability should not be the primary goal of teachers or of the system as a whole.

In swimming, as in any other athletic or artistic endeavor, classes are grouped based upon the current achievement level of the students, not based on age. A swimming coach would never consider putting advanced swimmers and beginning swimmers in the same class, even if they were of the same age. Similarly, a music teacher would not put an advanced piano player in a class with beginners…. Age is not a relevant factor in either swimming or piano lessons, but it is the overriding factor in our schools. No other major learning activity is strictly age-based. Our schools shouldn’t be either.

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Testing Supply Chain in Minnesota Re-Emerges as Concern

Minnesota health officials are concerned about renewed pressure on the testing supply chain, which could affect the state’s response to a recent growth in cases and plans to continue to ramp up testing.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said during a press call Friday that state officials have received reports of delays or reductions in testing supplies like reagents and pipettes from some health systems across the state, which rely on their own supply channels for weekly shipments of testing equipment.

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Reports of a Surge in Coronavirus Cases in Texas Infants is False, Official Says

A viral report of a sudden surge of coronavirus cases in infants in a single county in Texas is inaccurate, a local official said on Saturday.

On Friday, the top health official for the Corpus Christi area said at a press conference that the county currently has 85 cases of newborns with coronavirus.

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Delaware Says It Reports Negative Cases to CDC, Will Report to Public

The Delaware Department of Health has confirmed that it is reporting both positive and negative test results of coronavirus testing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite not making that information available to the public.

“Yes, we are reporting both positive and negative results to the CDC,” a spokesperson said in an email to The Michigan Star on Wednesday. “We absolutely understand the interest in knowing the number of negative test results received, as well as the number of positives.”

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Parents Sue Over De Blasio’s Plan to Diversify NYC’s Elite Schools

by Neetu Chandak   Asian-American parents and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against New York City officials Thursday over a plan that would increase admissions for black and Hispanic students to elite schools in the city. Black and Hispanic students make up 68 percent of the city’s population with…

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JC Bowman Commentary: A Few More Thoughts on Testing in Tennessee…

students in class

All stakeholders want to get testing right.  However, the emphasis on testing misses the bigger issue:  student academic growth measured by flawed testing.  Then the results being used in educator evaluations.  This is certainly more problematic to educators than the actual tests themselves. 

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JC Bowman Commentary: Testing is Open for Debate

Professional Educators of Tennessee raised the issue on Testing, with a hard-hitting editorial called the Trouble with Testing. Professional Educators of Tennessee did NOT support the use of that data on teacher evaluations, nor did they sign a support letter on the original grant submission., which the Tennessee Education Association did.

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Bill Lee Wants to Reduce Student Testing, While Karl Dean Thinks Current Levels Are Just Fine

Bill Lee

The battle lines over common sense in public education have been drawn in the gubernatorial battle between Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean, and Round One goes to Bill Lee. Lee, the outsider business executive, wants to reduce the current level of student testing while Dean, the former Mayor…

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Tennessee Department of Education Announces Testing Changes

McQueen

The Tennessee Department of Education announced at a noon press conference on Thursday several changes to the state TNReady test that teachers, administrators and superintendents have been asking the state to make, the Professional Educators said in a statement released on Thursday. “Among the changes include rebidding the testing contract,…

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