Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thomas Lukaszuk on Standardized Testing

Here is an interview on CBC with Alberta's Minister of Education Thomas Lukaszuk on standardized testing.

Here are some key points made by Thomas Lukaszuk:

  • The misuse of standardized test results is concerning.
  • Initially, Provincial Achievement Tests were suppose to inform the province about how well the curriculum was taught, but there are third parties (like the Fraser Institute and the media) who use the results to rank and sort and blame and shame schools.
  • Raw scores on a standardized test does not take in to account the socio-economic conditions of the neighbourhood, how many children speak English as a second language, and how many children have special needs. Using these scores as a reflection for the quality of teaching misrepresents what is truly going on. In other words, these scores do not reflect the quality of teaching that goes on in the school.
  • Often superintendents and administrators place the strongest teachers in classrooms and schools that host the hardest to educate students, and yet their scores will remain low because of the context of their student population.
  • High scores tend to indicate a high level of parental engagement and high levels of literacy for children before they even come to school.
  • Alberta Education wants to make changes to the Provincial Achievement Testing so that they can get the information they need on Curriculum, but at the same time these tests don't get misused. 
  • Provincial Achievement Tests are not designed to test the quality of teaching that takes place in a classroom.
  • Grade 3 and 6 Provincial Achievement Tests will no longer continue in their current format.
  • Parents deserve to know if the curriculum is being taught but also deserve to be protected from the unintended consequences that arise from the use of Provincial Achievement Test scores.
For more on Provincial Achievement Tests in Alberta:

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