As many of you know, I come from "The Land of No Testing"... actually my former school did do a couple days of ERBs and I think it was 7th grade that had to take the Otis-Lennon to be eligible for the Johns Hopkins G & T programs. Needless to say, the amount of time devoted to testing and preparing for the tests in public schools, not just my current school, amazes me.
I am not against accountability, not against using some sort of measure to see if kids are learning what we are teaching and helping teachers reach more students. The data we collect from the tests must be useful, must be timely and actionable. I spent a lot of time recently collecting data about assistive technology use in our district. Dealing with the data itself, making some sense of it and then wondering if anything will come of the data can be a frustrating process and this did not cost any money, just time.
The data collected from MCAS, from MAP testing, etc, etc... what is it used for? No, I don't mean how it is used to rate schools or teachers- but how is it used to help kids? How is it actually used to inform instruction? As learners, we all need feedback in order to make progress. Feedback months later is not always useful.
This weekend I was catching up on some blog posts from EdSurge and noticed an article about KIPP schools in the Bay area who use the MAP test scores to inform their math instruction by correlating the MAP data with Khan academy videos. NWEA has info on their site about this. I also contacted the author of the article and he sent me a link to a lot of material, including examples of how they are using this data.
While I am on a math tangent, last spring I attended an edcamp at Worcester Academy. I learned about Jo Boaler and her site youcubed, the WIM (week of inspirational math) and her book, Mathematical Mindsets (I have a copy if you'd like to borrow it). Last week I saw a post from Alice Keeler, referencing this book that really resonated with me, a certified math phobe. Check out the WIM activities- K-12.