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Core Knowledge Online Assessment Seeks Pilot Schools

Did you ever finish teaching a Core Knowledge domain and wonder, “Did my students understand the big ideas? Did they learn what they need to know?” I know I have, more often than I care to admit.

As Core Knowledge educators, how do we assess student understanding in our classrooms? Our students are already being assessed frequently on state standards. We don’t want to introduce more stress or pressure. But we want to know that our students “got it.” What to do?

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Lyles-Crouch Gets High Marks on State Report Card

Students and teachers at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy have something to celebrate. For this public school in Alexandria, Virginia—also a Core Knowledge School of Distinction—the latest State Report Card results put the school ahead of all other elementary schools in its district and overall ahead of the state as well. The Report Card provides test score…

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Dear Chiefs: This Is Your Chance to Close the Reading Achievement Gap

Assuming all goes as planned, we should have a new federal education law by the end of the year. Dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would greatly increase states’ options for evaluating schools and teachers. As this ESSA cheat sheet explains: States would still have…

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Valid, Reliable, and Unfair

As schools across the country anxiously await the results of their new Common Core–aligned assessments, there’s one thing I wish all policy makers understood: The reading comprehension tests are valid, reliable, and unfair. Standards-based assessments mean very different things in reading and math. The math standards include mathematics content—they clearly specify what math knowledge and…

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No Progress on Accountability, No Hope for Equity

I try not to give in to despair, but in reading recent recommendations for the reauthorization of ESEA, I see America wasting another 50 years on unproductive reforms. James S. Coleman said schools matter a great deal for poor kids, but we focus on the factors outside of school mattering more. A Nation At Risk…

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Raising Readers—Not Test Takers

In recent months, Teach Plus had over 1,000 teachers review sample items from PARCC, one of the two testing consortia trying to create assessments aligned to the Common Core standards. I say “trying” because in reading, the task is pretty much impossible. The standards specify things students should be able to do, but they contain…

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Smarter Balanced Confuses Fairness and Validity

Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked the ETS guidelines for fair assessments that PARCC adopted, as well as a sample item from PARCC. Now let’s turn to the “Bias and Sensitivity Guidelines” ETS developed for Smarter Balanced. While I can’t say that ETS’s guidelines for Smarter Balanced contradict those adopted by PARCC, they are…

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PARCC Demonstrates the Benefits of Broad Knowledge

Last week I explored the “ETS Guidelines for Fairness Review of Assessments.” These guidelines were adopted by PARCC, so I decided to take a look at PARCC’s sample items for English language arts. (PARCC is one of the two consortia of states with massive federal grants to create assessments aligned with the Common Core State…

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Reading Test Developers Call Knowledge a Source of Bias

You might expect to see a headline like this in the Onion, but you won’t. The Onion can’t run it because it isn’t just ironic—it’s 100% true. A few years ago, a researcher at one of the big testing companies told me that when developing a reading comprehension test, knowledge is a source of bias….

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