Common Core Testing

G.F. Brandenburg on the SBAC Math

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G.F. Brandenburg, a retired math teacher and outstanding blogger,here revisits Steven Rasmussen’s critique of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s math tests. Rasmussen was co-founder and publisher of Key Curriculum Press for many years and is a mathematics specialist. (I posted on Rasmussen’s critique here, but unlike Brandenburg, I am not a math educator.)

Here is a sample from Brandenburg:

““…the Smarter Balanced tests are lemons. They fail to meet acceptable standards of quality and performance, especially with respect to their technology-enhanced items. They should be withdrawn from the market before they precipitate a national catastrophe.”

[Brandenburg:] Here is some of the rest of his critique:

“Flaws in the Smarter Balanced Test Items

“What happened? Despite elaborate evidence-centered design frameworks touted by Smarter Balanced as our assurance that their tests would measure up, the implementation of the tests is egregiously flawed. I wish I could say the flaws in the Smarter Balanced tests are isolated.

“Unfortunately, they are not. While the shortcomings are omnipresent and varied, they fall into categories, all illustrated multiple times by the examples in this critique:

• Poorly worded and ambiguous mathematical language and non-mathematical instructions;

• Incorrect and unconventional mathematical graphical representations;

• Inconsistent mathematical representations and user interfaces from problem to problem;

• Shoddy and illogical user interface design, especially with respect to the dynamic aspects of the mathematical representations; • Consistent violations and lack of attention to the Common Core State Standards;

• Failure to take advantage of available technologies in problem design….

“The result? Untold numbers of students and teachers in 17 Smarter Balanced states will be traumatized, stigmatized and unfairly penalized. And the quagmire of poor technological design, poor interaction design, and poor mathematics will hopelessly cloud the insights the tests might have given us into students’ understanding of mathematics.”

Rasmussen then analyzes sample SBAC test questions.

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