Walter Bitner

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Assessment Reform Movement Gains Ground in U.S. Schools

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ARMParents and teachers across the nation have become increasingly disappointed with the current implementation of standardized testing in U.S. schools – and now, some of these assessment advocates have organized and formed ARM: the Assessment Reform Movement.

In recognition of the tremendous need to create more data for our data-driven education models, ARM seeks to educate teachers, parents, and students about the critical importance of assessments, and to encourage a dramatic increase in the use of these vital educational tools in our schools over the next five years.

Data Systems Need Data

According to Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group that works to improve the quality, accessibility, and use of data in education:

While certain uses of data may come and go, the demand for data and culture of data use is here to stay. The proof is that most states have made their own investment through legislation and allocation in state data systems and/or have received grants from the federal government to do so. Given these robust investments in data systems, and their increasing value for multiple stakeholders, data access and use are unlikely to diminish.

What this means for students and teachers:

  • Most states now have elaborate data systems (technology dedicated to processing educational data) in place, or will soon.
  • Data systems need data in order to have something to process and thus, justify their existence.
  • Educational data includes not only test scores, but also student and teacher attendance, services students receive, student academic development and growth, teacher preparation information, postsecondary success and remediation rates, moral compass, and the ability to detect irony and sarcasm.

“What is clear now,” said one administrator, “is that the data systems now in place require vastly increased amounts of data in order to function at top efficiency, and to be able to provide us with robust results. We just need more data.”

TestMore Testing –> More Data = Justification for Expensive Technology

Enter ARM. According to the group’s manifesto, Assessment Reform Movement seeks to “increase the use of educational assessments at all grade levels, to produce a more empirical, evidence-based educational model for every U.S. student”.

“The bottom line is, our students just aren’t taking enough tests.” said one local teacher who is a vocal supporter of ARM. “Here in Tennessee, for example, our elementary school students only take one benchmark assessment and the MIST practice test for the TNReady during the first nine weeks of the school year. That’s only two tests in the first quarter! These children need to be taking a lot more assessments to get their money’s worth out of our school system.”

An examination of the testing schedule for 2015-16 in our state revealed that indeed, there are several weeks during the school year when standardized tests are not being given.

One administrator pointed out that this inefficiency is costing taxpayers money:

“Entire weeks go by when our counseling staff are not administering tests, but instead are wasting their time talking to students one on one about their “feelings”. These teachers’ salaries cost against my budget! We need our students to take more tests to validate the presence of these counselors in our building.”

Through advocacy efforts, support groups, print literature, and a strong presence online, ARM will lead the way to the new assessment culture. Students will take weekly and even daily standardized assessments cheerfully, knowing that the constant measuring of their achievements and aptitudes contributes to the educational system in a meaningful way.

OurStudents“I love taking tests.” said no student ever. “Being able to generate more data for the school district’s computer systems to analyze and for my teachers to argue about during their planning periods gives me a reason to go to school every day!”

For more information on educational reform, see:

SHAME Education Poised to Infiltrate U.S. Schools


3 Comments

  1. Michael Graham says:

    Couldn’t tell if this was satire or not…

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • walterbitner says:

      Hi Michael! Yes it’s satire, but it describes reality, I’m sure. We’ve created the system, now we need to feed it with data to justify its existence. I think this is truly the situation, especially in public schools. I did, however, make up the quotes, except for the one from Data Quality Campaign. DQC is a real organization and that quote is directly from the FAQ on their site, which is linked from my article.

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