January 20, 2013

"Opt Out of State Standardized Tests" — Facebook page run by a high-ranking NYC Department of Education official.

According to the NY Post, Lisa Nielsen is promoting truancy on test days.
On Thursday, she blogged that kids would learn more by cutting class on exam day instead of being “sentenced to sit and start [sic] into space.”

... [She] recommends that parents or volunteers plan group activities and "put together a fun pass book for testing days with discounts to local zoos, museums, theater, etc.... They’ll all be empty since most young people will be locked up taking tests."

66 comments:

kentuckyliz said...

I am sure the schools will find a way to incentivize just the dumb kids to skip testing day, and keep the smart kids around, to drive up their school performance metrics.

john said...

The smarter kids have already learned to either deliberately flunk the test, or just get sick that day.

madAsHell said...

It's not an education system. It's an entitlement system.

dbp said...

She needs to be fired.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "sentenced to sit and start into space.”

Dehumanized astronauts. Robot would laugh if installed with laughter software.

betamax3000 said...

Robot knows Standardization is optimal for Functionality.

betamax3000 said...

If Robot fails Functionality testing Robot is recycled. Humans are organic. Organic can be recycled. Robot solves problem.

garage mahal said...

On Thursday, she blogged that kids would learn more by cutting class on exam day instead of being “sentenced to sit and start [sic] into space.”

Undoubtedly true.

Corporately engineered education "reform". What could possibly go wrong?

edutcher said...

Sounds like she's afraid she and her cohorts will be found out.

somefeller said...

The article says she praises home schooling and she obviously is skeptical of government-mandated standardized tests. Sounds like she should be a libertarian or conservative hero. But she's from New York and a public employee so she must otherwise be a liberal so burn the witch!

Chip S. said...

From the excerpt it seems like she's trying to boost scores by getting the dummies to stay away.

But the article makes it clear that she feels complete solidarity w/ dummies. She's 44 but thinks like 18.

PatHMV said...

Wow. Testing students to see how much they know is a waste of time and not a legitimate educational function. The mind boggles.

Garage, how would YOU evaluate whether students were adequately learning the material they were expected to learn?

Shouting Thomas said...

Another friggin' pinhead activist!

I'm so tired of women who imagine themselves to be ass kicking nonconformists.

They form affinity groups in Woodstock. Affinity groups of nonconformists! They're all in favor of sustainable living and medical marijuana.

Maguro said...

Presumably the kids most likely to skip school on test day are the ones who would score worst on the test. Win-win for everyone involved.

TerriW said...

Why don't they just have them guard the bee in the basement during test taking time?

Carol said...

There was a lot of IQ aptitude testing beginning in the 1950s, at least in LA City schools. I liked taking tests. I did well in tests. But I think that's because I was a well behaved girl.

So I suppose that's basically who's getting ahead these days - nice well behaved girls. Woe unto boys!

Chip S. said...

@somefeller, unlike your new education hero, conservatives actually approve of math.

kentuckyliz said...

She undermines the agency she works for. Apparently she doesn't know where her fat paychecks come from.

If she did such a thing in private industry, she would be fired yesterday.

She advocates home schooling, and people like her make me advocate it too.

Bob Boyd said...

This "news" article doesn't tell the reader much. It seems designed to elicit an emotional reaction.

furious_a said...

As long as Ms. Nielsen leads by dragging her own children into truancy first.

Nice pic in the Post: She may be an overcompensated chair-warming bureaucrat but she looks like she likes to party.

EDH said...

She seems like the type of broad you want to meet on a five-day Caribbean booze cruise.

John said...

I don't understand this.

New York state has had statewide "Regents" standardized testing for about 140 years. It is used to evaluate students, teachers, schools and the state's education system as a whole.

Based on all I have read about this it seems to work reasonably well at all those functions. Not perfectly but reasonably well.

In New York state, unless it has changed in the past 4-5 years, passage of the appropriate regents exams is a requirement for a public high school diploma.

Don't pass the regents, all you get is a certificate of attendance (name?)

Absent testing, how do you know if the student learned anything?

Not just standardized testing but even individualized classroom testing seems to have a bad name in education. I don't understand why.

John Henry

John said...

While we're about it, why not do away with all standardized testing?

No exams for doctors, lawyers, hairdressers, auto mechanics, engineers and so on.

If standardized testing doesn't work, as so many opponents claim, why is it still used to certify many professions and trades?

Would you want to be tinkered with by a doctor who never passed the medical boards?

John Henry

Hagar said...

Welcome to "Watter's World"!

ironrailsironweights said...

Quite hott for age 44.

Peter

John said...

When I was doing my MS in education (2001-2003), I went though the entire program without a single test, quiz, exam or anything like.

Nor were we taught a single syllable about how to design tests for our students.

I asked the dean about this and she told me that testing is frowned upon in modern education.

Yet, in the same U's graduate school of business, where I have taught since 1982, I was required to give at least 1 exam and "encouraged" to give 2 each semester.

The main thing I learned getting my Ed degree is that, given how teachers are trained, it is amazing our public schools are not far worse than they are.

John Henry

edutcher said...

John said...

I don't understand this.

New York state has had statewide "Regents" standardized testing for about 140 years. It is used to evaluate students, teachers, schools and the state's education system as a whole.

Based on all I have read about this it seems to work reasonably well at all those functions. Not perfectly but reasonably well.

In New York state, unless it has changed in the past 4-5 years, passage of the appropriate regents exams is a requirement for a public high school diploma


You are absolutely right. My father's sister and brother both distinguished themselves in the Regents' exams and this was about 100 years ago.

If the schools aren't doing their job and she's crusading against that, one would think she'd be all for the truth coming out.

Her support of home schooling is interesting, but I'm leery of that "they never had to be tortured in an algebra, history, science or English class!" line.

She sounds as if she has several axes to grind, one against testing companies, another for an "alternative" method of teaching.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Shielding students from tests has been the leftist party line since the 70s. Accountability for learning must NOT be attached to the learners. Better to indoctinarte their flexible noggins with PC propaganda.

Besides, grammar is hard. So is math.

Chip S. said...

I happened to be sitting next to a couple of obvious Ed profs recently at the local coffee house, and heard them yapping about how stupid high-stakes testing was, and how there were far better ways to get kids to learn.

So I leaned over and asked them if they planned to start a charter school to implement their ideas. They both looked at me in identical expressions of mute shock and bewilderment, as if I'd been talking about the delicious grilled moon-cheese sandwich I was drinking.

jr565 said...

which explains why our kids are so dumb.
Seriously, I keep hearing about the negatives of "teaching to the test". What is the test but a test on the subject you are supposed to be learning.
Only in things like the Humanities should there be a slight divergence from teaching to the test.
But even here, not that much. Rules of grammar are rules of grammar. It's only when you get into things like interpreting literary works or writing essays on subjects should there be some subjectivity at play.
But Algebra is always the same. Therefore teaching to the test should be perfectly fine since the test will be algebra.

I suppose these kids cutting class will learn the way Ferris Bueller will learn. They'll go to museums and sing Twist & Shout at the parade and drive their dads car and get into kooky adventures.

Why does this woman think on exam day that the kids will be staring into space rather than take an exam? It's not like they don't have a task in front of them. And if they are staring into space when an exam is going on about a subjectthey should know then a teacher somewhere didn't do their job.
So, with than in mind, no wonder this woman wnats to have them cut and go on field trips rather than take the test. She's not convinced that the teachers are actually teaching the kids and doesn't want to face up to responsibility of teachers and schools to do that.

Hagar said...

When I graduated from high school in Norway a long time ago, we took 4 5-hour written tests (with ink pens on foolscap, and neatness counted) in Norwegian composition, English, Math (through 2-dimensional calculus), and Physics (Newtonian), and 3 oral exminations in random subjets, i.e. which students would be tested in what subject was posted at 8 AM and the exams began at 9 AM.

We were responsible for all subjects taught through all 5 years of high school, and the grades we got on the final exams were the final grades.

Chip S. said...

Why does this woman think on exam day that the kids will be staring into space rather than take an exam?

She has a rough idea of how much they're learning? #justaguess

jr565 said...

If you define deviancy down you eventually get no deviancy. If you try to remove standards in test taking you can then ultimately say you are teaching kids well. Since there is no standard to judge your results by I guess you are.
Give all kids trophies for appearing. Have no grades or tests and make school endless field trips.

Hagar said...

Oh, and our written exams were put in folders without our names attached and sent to some other town for grading by the teachers there to make sure there would be no favoritism based on family relationships, or whatever.

Paul Zrimsek said...

As usual, Bloomberg's love of policing people's behavior doesn't extend to the people who are actually working for him.

madAsHell said...

but she looks like she likes to party.

Judging by the wine glasses, it looks like she's into 4-somes.

madAsHell said...

but she looks like she likes to party.

Judging by the wine glasses, it looks like she's into 4-somes.

jr565 said...

Standardized tests implies personal reponsibility and accountablity. And the left hates that.
Teachers are either going to teach their students or not and they're either going to excel or not.
But that's not "Fair". If some do better than others that means there was some cultural bias somewhere or the teachers were teaching to the test rather than really teaching.
And if people who don't do well flunk out of highschool then of course, society is unfair and to blame somehow for these kids not being part of the middle class.

We'll even have Ritmo describing such cultural decision making on the part of the student who drops out as musings of KKKconservatives and we'll be belittling the poor by making taht simple observation that what you do in life will often dictate where you end up in life. There are exceptions to every rule, but in general this is true.

Keystone said...

School test scores affect residential property values. Keeping smart kids away could have a cost.

Pogo said...

“Occupy Wall Streeters: It’s time to change direction . . . Occupy those schools.

...put together a fun pass book for testing days with discounts to local zoos, museums, theater, etc.


She's Patty Hearst Redux, in the STDs Liberation Army.

Mary Beth said...

I can't find a Facebook page by that name.

Pogo said...

"...the newly created, six-figure position of “director of digital literacy and citizenship.

We show teachers how to use social media, like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Wikis” ...

“We give teachers a ‘digital makeover’ so that they can control how they want to be seen online. And finally, they get practice creating their own social-media page or group,” she said.


My God, a job even more bulshitty than 'Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate'. I didn't think it was possible.

MarkD said...

They know who the incompetent teachers are, and they won't do anything about them. From that perspective, standardized tests are a waste. (I assume she is talking about those tests, and not things like the SAT or Regents exams or Advanced Placement tests.)

Absent standardized testing, how do you know the teacher effectively taught what was supposed to be learned?

Pogo said...

Q&A with Lisa Nielsen: NYC schools hoping to use social media in the classroom

"Q: What do you say to critics who would call your job an example of the bureaucratic bloat at “Tweed,” the headquarters of the NYC Department of Education?

Teachers are often crying out for more and more support. The articles that I’ve read and things that I’ve heard is that when districts enact new policies, they’re sometimes not supported with professional development. I’ve never heard that there’s a bloat in providing professional development for teachers.
"

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Chip S. said...

Judging by the wine glasses, it looks like she's into 4-somes.

Judging by the article, it looks like she's into drunk-posting.

n.n said...

1+1=2. Evil! Students of the world, unite! Rebel against your conformist oppressors. Do not let anyone assess the quality of your knowledge and skill.

I wonder where standardization should end and chaos should begin. I suppose if the boundary is not overly extreme or fanatic, then its possible to maintain at least a semblance of stability (and productivity) in the system and society.

Pogo said...

Here's her blog:
The Innovative Educator".
Full of lefty mendacity and doublespeak.

And from her LinkedIn page, a delicious article entitled The Teens Guide to Opting Out of School for Success.

It looks like one of the blog posts.
"Additionally, most people perceive students who leave school as “drop outs” and society has labeled them as lazy, unmotivated, not bright, etc. Students who have taken charge of their learning know this is not true, but the reality is that they will be spending a lot of time convincing others of this. 16-year-old Leah Miller is one such former student who has chosen to opt out of high school so she could acquire an education that was best was personalized to her learning goals. To follow is her story complete with the presentation she put together to convince her parents she was making the right decision."

Hagar said...

Having gone to high school in Norway proved a great advantage in college here, since I had a decent general education behind me, and I knew how to study. It was amazing to me that American college students had to be taught all over again in class what they should have studied at home, and had no idea how to organize a paper, etc., a.s.o., could not spell, and had difficulty with simple arithmetic, never mind mathematics.

wyo sis said...

In the schools here if a student misses school on test day the test is made up when they come back.

Balfegor said...

Re: jr565:

Seriously, I keep hearing about the negatives of "teaching to the test". What is the test but a test on the subject you are supposed to be learning.

Yes, if proper instruction were going on, teaching "to the test" wouldn't be necessary, because the content of the test would naturally be a subset of what was taught. It's basically a tacit admission that the teachers involved can't teach.

That might not be their fault. Maybe the teachers that preceded them screwed up and failed to teach the proper foundations, so they had to spend the year redoing the basis. Maybe the school has horrible discipline problems. Maybe the students are just dumb. But bottom line is the children aren't learning.

Balfegor said...

Re: Pogo:

I don't know that I necessarily disagree with the idea that school is not right for some people. If you've gone through to 16 in a decent school system, you probably have all you need. Apart from calculus, I can't say I learned much at all in high school.

That's very different from the idea that a publicly funded school system shouldn't have any accountability measures built in, and that students in the system should actively contrive to screw up the reliability of the results, presumably to protect their incompetent teachers from any outside scrutiny.

Chip S. said...

Balfegor, could you have been taught calculus w/o first having learned algebra, or counting?

Also, the matter of deciding what use to put your calculus to required you to know enough about the world or fields of study to make an informed choice.

garage mahal said...

Standardized testing doesn't teach critical thinking, which threatens established authoritarian institutions.

You want a nice compliant minnow when you stick in the hooks.

Chip S. said...

Testing doesn't teach anything. I'd have thought that was obvious.

It's funny how the more that educrats babble on about "critical thinking" the less able their students are to think critically at all.

Maybe--just maybe--it helps to start by teaching them the building blocks of higher-order thinking.

Lydia said...

It's all part of the self-esteem curse.

In an oft-cited 2006 study by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, U.S. eighth-graders had only a middling performance on an international math exam, but they registered high levels of confidence. They were more likely than higher performing students from other countries, such as Singapore and South Korea, to report that they “usually do well in mathematics.”

And those who try to steer education on a different course are fought every inch of the way. Remember D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee?

John said...

Hagar,

Your testing in Norway sounds sort of like the "Comprehensive Examination" that all MBA students had to take at the end of their studies.

(Not the school where I taught nor where I got my MS in Ed.)

This was back in 78 so I don't know if they still do it like this.

Twice a year everyone who had completed their MBA program mustered in a classroom for a full day of testing fun.

4 hours in the morning were devoted to the core subjects that everyone took. I believe there were 5 questions of which you had to answer 4. Answers were in pen in bluebooks. You could fill as many bluebooks for each question as you felt necessary. Each question got a separate bluebook(s) identified only by student number.

The afternoon was the same but was answer 4 of 5 questions in your concentration. These could be from any course in your concentration. Whether you had taken the course or not.

One question I remember was "Discuss quality" (I was an Industrial Management major)

Other questions were similarly open ended.

I figured, what the Hell, I could not win so I wrote 1 full bluebook per question and when I got to the end of the last page, I stopped.

When I finished, I just knew I had booted it and was physically sick for the next day or so.

Apparently my bullshit didn't stink too bad and I passed both parts the first time. Normal 1st time pass rate was under 60%.

If you didn't pass, you did not get a diploma. You only got 4 tries too, IIRC.

John Henry

garage mahal said...

MAP testing and NCLB should be scrapped entirely and thrown onto the garbage heap of history.

Hagar said...

My cousin took civil engineering at the Norwegian Technical High School in Trondheim.
During summer vacation he sat out on the veranda every day with two thick mathbooks, studying and working sample problems. I asked why he was doing this, and he said that when they left school in the spring they were told that there had not been room to fit these two math courses into the curriculum, so everybody would just have study them for themselves over the summer, and school would pick up again in the fall with the assumption that everyone was familiar with the material and ready to proceed to the next level.

sinz52 said...

She's an advocate of homeschooling, and I think that's fine--as long as she's not paid by the taxpayers to help run the public school system instead of dissing it.

When I was an engineer employed by a large engineering company, if I had blogged that customers should buy from our competitors instead of us, I would expect to be called on the carpet.

Balfegor said...

Re: Chip S:

Balfegor, could you have been taught calculus w/o first having learned algebra, or counting?

Not sure I see the point of the question, but no I could not. I didn't learn any of those in regular school, though. I learned algebra and counting at home. I learned algebra II and geometry through summer camp (for nerds). I learned pre-calculus through an online course. Calculus was the first and only math course I took in high school. From the high school, at least. I continued studying math at the local college while in high school.

Also, the matter of deciding what use to put your calculus to required you to know enough about the world or fields of study to make an informed choice.

Yes, but high school had nothing to do with that at all.

wyo sis said...

I'm with garage on NCLB.
MAP testing, when used diagnostically, is a valid instrument and a step in the right direction.

n.n said...

Testing, standardized or otherwise, is not about teaching knowledge or skills, but about assessing quality and fitness.

Alex said...

Ah yes, every kid is a potential Steve Jobs/Bill Gates and doesn't need standardized testing. Sure.

Alex said...

The testing isn't just about verifying knowledge, it's seeing how a kid performs under pressure. It only gets harder in college and then the job world.

Alex said...

To Boss - I think I'll skip work because I don't want to stare into space today, I'll go the petting zoo instead.

Boss - You're fucking ass is fired.

Me - I'll go collect welfare check thanks to garage!

Joan said...

A close reading of the article reveals that parents are already allowed to opt their kids out of testing, so that on test days, the students are given alternative assignments while the majority are testing. What Nielsen is advocating here is, if you've opted your kids out of testing already, don't even bother to send them to school that day, since they won't be doing anything productive anyway.

That's all.

Of course, she also advocates opting the kids out, which is directly in conflict with the mission of her employer, but that's not what she's saying here.

As a teacher, I hate standardized testing days because administering them is so stressful. I hate that the entire week's schedule is disrupted. I hate how much instructional time we lose. I hate that, when the test is over, we can't let the kids go home but have to finish out the day somehow, because we need the in-seat hours to get our state and federal $$$.

I hate how the tests require "adequate yearly progress" from everyone. Kids who are brilliant and test out at the top of the test don't show any progress because they already know it all. Kids who are learning disabled or abused or malnourished may show a 3 or 4 month improvement, which is absolutely brilliant for them but inadequate in the eyes of the government. Teachers who take on the classrooms full of the special needs and special ed kids get screwed because their classes never show AYP, because AYP is not customized to fit the individual student the way it should be.

In AZ, we get incentive pay from the state legislature ("301 money") based on student progress. This year my charter district rejiggered how the cash would be apportioned, based on, you guessed it, progress. It turned out that the lower the grade you taught, the more money you earned -- so the high school teachers got next to nothing, and the kindergarten and early elementary teachers cleaned up. As explained to us, "Kindergarten kids come in at the beginning of the year barely able to knock two rocks together, but by Christmas they can recognize all their letters and numbers, etc. The growth looks tremendous because they're starting so low. When you get up to the kids in high school who have already passed all their AIMS tests, well, there really isn't anywhere for their tests scores to go -- they've already reached the top."

The district policy is under review.