Saturday, May 12, 2007

MLA style works Cited

Bowean, Lolly. "After Gary strike, test looms ; Standardized state exam around corner." Chicago Tribune. Sept. 3, 2006, Chicagoland final edition:3. Proquest. April 24, 2007.

Bridges, Linda. "Incentive pay would fail teachers and students." Austin American Statesman. April 12, 2007. final edition:A13. proquest. April 17, 2007.

Hurwitz, Nina and Sol. "Tests That Count." American School Board Journal. Jan. 2000.:20-25. Sirs. April 22, 2007.

Kim, Arheun. "Cheating on Standardized Test Blamed on Flawed System." Gannett News Service. June 21, 2000. Sirs. April 22, 2007.

Sadowski, Michael. "Are High-Stakes Tests Worth the Wager?" Harvard Education Letter. Oct. 2000.:1-5. Sirs. April 19, 2007.

Susswein, Gary. "78th Legislature: Capitol Roundup." Austin American Statesman. March 20, 2003.:B5. proquest. April 17, 2007.

Vise, Daniel. "A Concentrated Approach to Exams; Rockville School's Efforts Raise Questions of Test-Prep Ethics." The Washington Post. Mar. 4, 2007. final edition:C1. Proquest. April 24, 2007.

Wetzel, Bill. "No More Tests!" Mothering. Dec. 2002.:68-71. Sirs. April 19, 2007.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Research Paper Outline


Attention Getter:?????
Preview: On the good side of standardized testing we have the fact that it motivates students and teachers to reach high standards. They also ensure that students will have basic academic skills by the time they get their highschool diploma. On the bad side they demoralize kids that do bad on the test and aren't exactly fair for people that have a different ethnic background. Also they encourage teachers to teach fact memorization and test tricks rather than important skills.
Thesis: There are both posotives and negatives of haveing high-stakes testing.


Paragraph 1(F): TS: One of the reasons people support high stakes testing, is that it provides an incentive to reach for high standards.
What some might call the Texas miracle, once Texas had starded a high stakes testing program. the test scores in the state went way up. Its pass rates went up a total of 27% from 53% to 80%. This got texas to be ranked #2 out of 44 of the US states on score gains (#1 North Carolina). Chicago also saw similar, though not as large, test score jumps when it started high stakes testing. (Source 1) The great score improvements in Texas lead to a majority of people in Texas thinking standardized tests are a good thing,according to a state wide survey. (Source 3) Before this, Texas used to be a state that was very low on the educational scales, but now it's test scores have risen 4 years in a row. Likewise, Chicago used to be the worst school district in the nation but now thanks to the motivation of high stakes testing has had raising test scores for at least 3 years. (source 6) After the introduction of high stakes tests in california 71 % of it's public schools saw a jump u in test scores that was at least somewhat significant.(source 9)

Paragraph 2(F): TS: Another reason why some support it is that it, ensures students graduate with basic academic skills, and helps to improve the schools.
26 of the 50 states in the USA have high school graduation exams. Minnesota is one of those states, and the graduation tests are commonly known as the BST's, or the Basic Skills Tests. By requiring students to pass a standardized test to graduate, the state makes sure that the students have at least a basic understanding of important academic skills that they may use throughout various parts of their lifetime.(source 6)The use of high school exit exams is supported by about 80% of the adults in America.(source 1) Retaining students that get bad test scores helps even out the catching up students would need to do if they just failed the graduation exam, therefore helping students get a complete education.(source 6) After High stakes are introduced, in many cases like Texas, Chicago, and California, test scores seem to go up because it gives teachers and students a reason to do better, thus improving the schools.(source 9)

Paragraph 3(A): TS: A reason why some dislike standardized testing is, they demoralize students that do bad, and are somewhat racially biased.
In september 2006, many students hearts sank as a teacher strike ended. this feeling was because there was a test just two weeks out that would determine for some if they would graduate and for others if they would get to go to the next grade at the end of the year. For some students, tests like these make them extremely stressed, weeks in advance, because of the fear of retention or summer school.(source 8) If students do not pass a high stakes test often they are held back for a grade. This would help them get a decent education, except that it damages their self- confidence and, has been shown that being retained, has the highest connection with students dropping out and is 2 times as high as any other known possible factor, including race.(source 6) It has been shown in multiple studies that minority students are less likely to do well on the standardized tests that we Americans take throughout grade school.(source 6) For example, in Texas the pass rates for whites were about 92%, while the pass rates for African Americans and Latino students were both around 76%, a 16% difference!(source 1)

Paragraph 4(A): TS: Another reason why people don't like them is because, they encourage curriculum based on fact memorization and test tricks rather than important skills.
When the govt. linked students' futures and teachers pay to the students' scores on tests, the students and teachers naturaly wanted to do better on these test by any possible means(source 4). One way they do this is by teaching the students test-tricks that will help them score better on the standardized test but doesn't consist of useful learning strategies. An example is the 3 of a letter in a row, by which if a student has answerd three of the same letter in a row at least one is likely to be incorrect, since the writers prbably wouldn't put the same answer 3 times in a row. (source 9) Another way is to "teach the test". This is when the schools stop their lesson plans to prepare for the upcoming test, so that the students do well on that one specific test.(source 5) This also hurts students because they aren't being taught valueble knowledge or usefull skills.(source 9) In Texas, the state where the test scores are so high, some of the schools set aside their lessons 3 months in advance!(9) The students during this test prep period are learning things that they a meant to forget as soon as they finnish the tests.(1) The final, and worst, thing that some teachers and students do is cheat on these tests. Since the effects of having good or bad scores can be life changing, some see cheeting as the only way to stay safe. some ways that teachers have been known to cheet include: changing answers after the test is over, rewriting essays for students, leaving the answers to a test somewhere visible, and taking the test completely for students that don't show up on the test day.(source 6)

Paragraph 5(MO): ?????


Restate Thesis: High-stakes testing has both pros and cons.
Review main points: They get students to want to do well, as well as get teachers to want the students to do well. The also make sure students get at lest some basic knowledge out of school. However the make kids feel bad when they don't get good scores, and are also somewhat racist. Also since the stakes, for doing good or bad on the tests, are often very high, the tests encourage cheating and the teaching of test-taking tricks.
Attention Leaver:?????

Friday, April 20, 2007

Annotated Bibliography


Harvard Education Letter
For and Against Testing

Most people fall into one of four catagories in their view on standardized testing. 1) it's a good idea because they create incentives for students and teachers to meet high achievement standards. 2) it's a good idea because they help to ensure that students graduate with at least a basic understanding of basic academic skills. 3) it's a bad idea because it demoralizes the kids that do poorly and are biased racialy and ethnicly. 4) it's a bad idea because it encourages a curriculum based on memorizing facts and learning tricks to help you take tests.
Two of the most studied and contoversial testing programs are those of Texas and of Chicago.

Mothering, No More Tests!
Against Testing

Children's education has become a stress filled marathon of boredom, superficial learning and test taking. The Mass. MCA's take approxomatly seventeen hours to complete, and the test in California, the stanford 9's take up a whole two weeks of school!
However there is a growing movement against tests. One common method of keeping track of a students progress without tests is the use of portfolios. with out standardized tests, some scientists think, students of today would be able to be more creative.

Study texans favor exams
For Testing

This article has survey statistics from a statewide survey in texas on it. 55-61% of people look favorably upon standardized testing in schools. 66-72% believe that it is a good tool for mesuring accountability. 8-14% are undecided. 5-11% are against it.
Austin American Statesman
Against testing

Jamie Story gave a commentary that supported standardized tests and incentive pay. However, the author of this article disagrees. Incentive pay is linking teachers pay to student's test scores. 92% of teachers opposed to incentive pay according to a survey. Although a minority of teachers would benefit from the incentive pay, it would be better for most if the just got an $850 per year pay raise. Believes that the Houstan incentive plan is a failure. He then gives his idea of a better plan that he thinks would work.
Cheating on standardized tests blamed on flawed system
Mostly Against Testing

Standardized tests don't match up with the curriculum very well. the highest amount of overlap was 46% in a fifth grade science classroom. Lowest was 5%. Some teachers rsort to bending the rules of the tests to get around this disadvantage. Most school ditricts use student test scores as one criterion for evaluating teachers' preformance sometimes low preforming schools face harsh punishments. with the pressure to do good some teachers resort to cheating or a strategy known as "teaching to the test". Another problem is that only sixteen of the states have their own customized standardized test.

Tests That Count
For and Against Testing

Texas Chicago and New York City are being carefully watched by decision makers for both positve and negative lessons. Some parents and civil rights groups are challenging the tests on racial and equity, while some teachers are challenging the tests whether they actually improve learning or not. All the teachers teachers believe that they should be more aligned with the curriculum. dissagreements between states and school ditricts sometimes end up having the kids take two tests. High stake testing may be a large political issue in the near future. The turnaround in Texas is a great success story of how their standardized testing program transformed it from an educational backwater to "a model of equity, progress and acountability. In Chicago another miracle story of how their high stakes program greatly improved teir school district. However New York City had a dimsal expirience with high stakes testing.

A Concentrated approach to exams
Mostly Against Testing

According to this article, the principal of Wood Middle School in Rockville decided to get a list of students and crossed off the names of students that the teachers knew would pass the test, and those that the teachers thought had no chance of passing the test. Those that were left would be the ones that recieved 45 minutes of test prep class four days a week. by focusing on these students the school hoped to raise the pass rate significantly. Many educators believe that this kind of test-prep is now a common practice in many schools across the nation. Another principal said that she fears losing her job if her schools scores on standardized tests aren't adequate for too long. One school got a 68% pass rate which is higher than the state average of 65%, but they didn't make adequate progress so they were punnished anyways.

After Gary Strike, Test Looms
Against Testing

Just two weeks after the start of classes after the Gary teachers strike ended the 10th grade students of Gary Indiana, will have to take the ISTEP, the state standardized test. Gary had already ranked one of the lowest in the state on test scores. One of the reasons the teachers went on strike had to do with the testing. One said,"We are either preparing for a test, coming out of a test, or reviewing a test. This has got to stop!" One of the students tells that he's fine with everything about high school, except the test and it gets harder every year.
Standardized tests: do they ultimately help or hurt students?
More Against than For Testing

Modern day students are being taught test tricks rather than actual knowledge. Also there a often many differences in what the students learn and what they are actually tested on. Since
students success and teachers pay are often linked with standardized tests it is understandable that the teachers stop teaching their curriculum and work on test prep before an upcoming test. This hurts the students more than it helps them since they arent learning valuable skills or knowledge. Some teachers are even being forced to give up their plans so they can prepare the students for the tests ahead. In one school they started preparations three months in advance and stopped their lesson plans in the process. Across the nation students and teachers are getting rewarded or punnished based on the scores of their standardized tests. Since the test have a great influence on the future of the students they a practicaly forced to prep for them. There are some parents, tachers and lawmakers in favor of standardized testing. the intense pressure to do well on these tests has driven some teachers and students to cheating. Most people think that standardized testing doesnt need to be removed, but should be used on an informative basis not to make important decisions about people.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Best Place R.A.F.T.

I've been to a lot of places. However there is one place where I would like to spend my time more than anywhere else. It is just the best place to relax when I am all stressed out over school, homework, and varios other things that I have to do all the time. It also allows me to just get away from my siblings when I need it most. On top of that its walls are painted with my two favorite colors (black and silver). On one wall there is a window through which one can see a beautiful view of the St. Croix river valley off in the distance. On the window is a set of blackout shades so that almost no light enters the room, allowing me to sleep (since I can't sleep if there is any light at all). On the ceiling is a bunch of golden glitter, and when the light is on they sparkle like the stars. One of the walls is painted with a picture of the solar system, some of which you can no longer see because there is a wooden shelf in the way. This place is definetly one of the best places in the world!