"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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

SAGE: Florida tries to validate Utah's test

Florida has done what Utah has been afraid to do. They have performed a validity test on the SAGE test administered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on the assessments of grades 3-10 ELA, grades 3-8 math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.
The validity test, performed by Alpine Testing and EdCount, was performed to test whether or not the test scores were valid for a specific use. In other words, does the test work or not?
Once the validity test was completed, Alpine Testing and Edcounts reported their findings to the Florida Senate K-12 Committee on September 17, 2015. The full video can be seen here.
What significance does this have for Utah? As can be seen from the video (and in their report) the field testing wasn’t performed primarily on Florida’s test. They used Utah’s test (thank you, Florida, for paying for Utah’s validity test.)
What Alpine Testing said in their comments to Florida is astounding. We have outlined some key points from the video. 
  • At 44:50- Many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested.
  • At 47:70: Test scores should only be used at an aggregate level.
  • At 48:15 – They recommend AGAINST using test scores for individual student decisions.
  • At 1:01:00 – They admit that “test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”
  • At 1:20:00 – “There is data than can be looked at that shows that the use of these test scores would not be appropriate
Alpine Testing was the only company that applied to perform the validity study for Florida. Once awarded the contract, they teamed with EdCount, the founder of which had previously worked for AIR. What's surprising is that, regardless of their being questionably independent, they STILL recommend against using the test scores.
So, what we have is a questionably independent group stating that this test should not be used for individual students, but it’s ok for the aggregate data to be used for schools and teacher evaluations. If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. If it’s been shown that this test isn’t good for students, why would we be comfortable using it for the grading or funding of our schools and teachers? The sum of individual bad data can’t give us good data. Nor should we expect it to.
What more evidence do you need to determine that our students shouldn’t be taking the SAGE test? This test is a failure. How much longer will our children and our state (and numerous other states) spend countless time and resources in support of a failed test, or teaching to a failed test?
Utah's children deserve more.
Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart
Alpine School Board Members for districts A4 and A2

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