Monday, April 11, 2011

V is Validity

Let me say it at the get-go: Poverty is a huge issue in education.  I firmly believe this and I know that there are many other issues in education.

This week, students in Minnesota, including mine, will start taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests. 

Now let me pause for your excitement to die down and allow you to refocus.

The reading test is paper based.  Students will read a few pieces of paper.  Then they will use a good old #2 pencil to fill in some bubbles and write some sentences.  The majority of our students have been doing this for years in school and at home.  Despite the content that they know or don't know, they know how to take the test.

In math, students will be placed in front of a computer screen to complete their test.  None of our students have a computer in front of them all day.  Few of them have a computer at home.  They have little in terms of computer skills, which isn't for a lack of trying on the school's part. 

So now, they need both the content knowledge and the test taking knowledge.  Our math teachers have been "teaching to the test" for weeks now.  They aren't teaching the math.  They are teaching the computer pieces: how to click on things, how to find the calculator, how and where to enter numbers.

Validity. Can the State of Minnesota tell students, parents, families, community members and school leaders that they have accurately assessed math content knowledge in a community where computer skills are lacking? 

Please don't get me wrong.  I'm in favor of the move to technology; it is the way the world works.  However, if the State of Minnesota is expecting students to know the technology well enough to ensure that they are accurately assessing math, then the students need to have the tools on daily basis to learn the technology pieces.

V is for Validity.

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