"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 10, 2014

New SAGE state test information

Tuesday, March 11 @ 4 - 5:30 pm at the District Office, 575 N. 100 E., American Fork!!!

We have new state tests, called SAGE.  The SAGE test is a computer-adaptive test, and this is the first year that it will be used to test all English, Math, and Science students from 3rd grade on up.

While I have many concerns about the data privacy and some aspects of computer-adaptive tests, I would highly recommend that every parent and taxpayer attend an information meeting on SAGE. The district will be holding these informational meetings at all the schools.  So, if you can't attend the one tomorrow, please call the schools nearest you and find the most convenient time to attend.  We will be posting the schedule on our website, and I will inform you as soon as I get the link.

A few things to take into consideration.

First, we are promised that this test will be measuring critical thinking.  I have a few thoughts on that point.  1) I have found that 'critical thinking' is a lot like 'hope and change', it can mean different things to different people. 2) In many discussions, it is presented as though critical thinking has not been taught in the past and is now, for the first time being taught and assessed in public schools.  3) In my opinion, as a computer programmer, I am unsure that a computer test could actually assess critical thinking.   4) What it does seem to mean is that testing fact and memorization isn't as important.  

Second, the test scores will be going down by almost 20%, it is predicted.  We are told this is due to the more rigorous curriculum (which the math, demonstrably, isn't) and more rigorous testing.  We are presenting this throughout the district so that parents are not alarmed when they receive the test scores.  My thoughts: 1) When you get a new test, the test scores always go down until the teachers learn how to teach to the test.  One teacher at a convention stated it takes about 3 years. 2) The test questions, from my observation, are more convoluted, not necessarily testing harder concepts, just worded strangely.  3) If you are homeschooling or using private school, so your kids aren't trained on this method of testing and answering questions, your kids will be at a disadvantage.  (The downside to this is the SAT is realigning to Common Core.  I assume that the SAT will look similar to some of these CCSS state tests--SAGE, SBAC, PARCC--which are testing process and communication over fact.) 

Finally, if you are opting your kids out of testing, like I am, I would still attend a meeting to find out what your tax dollars are paying for.  If you have questions on opting out, just let me know.  Here is a link to the district's opt out form. (https://docs.google.com/a/alpinedistrict.org/file/d/0B4LZ8teFSo0fcVBfei1tSGgwcDVjUWpKZTFQV0hXd1JxRjZz/edit?pli=1) Or you can simply write your own letter.  Please be away that everything is designed to make it difficult for you to want to opt out.   Know that the State Board of Education could change their teacher/school grading system to just simply not count those student who are opted out.  Instead, the teachers will be assessed as though the kids failed tests they never took.  I would encourage you to contact the State Board and ask them to change their grading system. 

I would also go to www.sageportal.org, login as guest, guest and take one or more of the practice tests.

See you Tuesday at 4pm!!

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