Common Principles for Uncommon Schools

Horace Volume 14 | 1998 | Issue 2

Demonstrating Student Performance in Essential Schools: Presents ways Essential schools are augmenting data from norm-referenced standardized tests to offer richer and more public evidence about student learning.

A Consumer’s Guide to Those “Standardized” Test Scores

How much attention should you pay to test scores? “A test score alone offers too little information to make meaning of it,” says Paul LeMahieu of the University of Delaware, who also directs research and development for Delaware’s education department and has written extensively about the purposes and techniques of different forms of assessment. Before rushing to actions aimed at

A Multiple Choice for Parents: How do you want your child’s learning to be measured?

When parents get to leaf through the test items by which their children are sorted and ranked against each other- or when they sit down and endure an hour or two of taking the actual tests their children take-many are struck by how ambiguous the questions are, and how trivial and arbitrary as a summary of learning. What follows is

Crash Gordon Takes a Test (and the community decides what’s fair and credible)

Talking with a lay audience about whether different kinds of student assessments are credible and useful, Kate Jamentz of the Western Assessment Collaborative at WestEd likes to use this little test-taking fiction: Crash Gordon has been enrolled in Fly-by-Nite Pilot School for three weeks. The school promises that by successfully completing this course, Crash will be ready to pilot 747

Demonstrating Student Performance in Essential Schools

How do you recognize a good school? Test scores tell us something, but not enough. We need instead an array of evidence that students are-or are not-learning the things that matter. And the public must join school people to understand and weigh that evidence, then plan together how to improve the work of our students. A FEW MORE HARD-WON triumphs

Do State Curricula and Tests Work? A Case History from the New York Regents

Those interested in what effects state curriculum standards and testing can have on student learning might study the history of the New York State Regents examination system, a long-standing example of a state-mandated curriculum and testing program. Though it is now undergoing a major revision toward a more performance-oriented model, the Regents system for years dictated a wide range of

Failure by Design: Why Tests Don’t Show What Students Can Do

No standardized, norm-referenced test, assert Coalition leaders Theodore R. Sizer and Deborah Meier, can measure the real payoff from serious study-“an examined and useful life,” as Sizer puts it-nor can it describe the good school that works to achieve that end. “Any assessment that correlates poorly with a student’s intellectual future offends us, putting stress on teachers and students and

Fix the Problem, Not the Blame: Engaging the Public in School Accountability

Improving “accountability” by merely adopting new and enlightened assessments like portfolios and exhibitions will not go far, Paul LeMahieu contends in a number of recent published articles. Instead, schools and communities must come together in events that promote the honest disclosure and weighing of good evidence, planning, and action. The “accountability events” he urges are a process of continuous and

Graduating by Exhibition: One School’s Plan

Many Essential high schools have worked out ways to publicly demonstrate their students’ readiness for graduation-ways that reflect both their community’s own values as to what students should know and be able to do and their belief that depth and thoughtfulness, not coverage, must govern the curriculum. At Anzar High School near Monterey, California, students take junior and senior years

One School’s Alternative for Recording Student Learning

Like several other schools in California’s “Transitions” project, Homestead High School in Cupertino is developing an alternative transcript that more accurately reflects the school’s interdisciplinary courses, project-based learning, and performance-based assessments. Homestead plans to accompany the above with a list of interdisciplinary programs and courses and summaries of the school’s expectations, performance standards, rubrics, and other relevant data. In addition,

State Assessment Systems: A Report Card

One-third of state public school testing systems need a complete overhaul and another third need major improvements if they are to provide support for high quality teaching and learning, according to a new study by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which evaluated assessment practices in all 50 states against standards endorsed by more than 80 organizations

The School Inquiry Cycle: Continuous Improvement, Critical Review

What does an ongoing school self-assessment plan look like when it aims for continuous improvement of teaching and learning? The Southern Maine Partnership, a regional Center of the Coalition, helps its member schools to incorporate documentation, analysis, communication, and constructive debate in the manner of the “School Quality Reviews” being developed by many others: 1. The school community poses key