Monday, March 13, 2017

Student Biographical Data: is your school giving test vendors this “extra” information about your child? – Missouri Education Watchdog

Student Biographical Data: is your school giving test vendors this “extra” information about your child? – Missouri Education Watchdog:

Student Biographical Data: is your school giving test vendors this “extra” information about your child?



It is end of year, high-stakes testing season again.  PARCC, SBAC, SAGE, FCAT, CMAS*, AIR, Questar, Pearson. These words trigger anger for parents, many opt their children out of these tests. (*CMAS is PARCC Math and English test in Colorado; they just cleverly renamed it.)   Why do so many parents, students, and teachers loathe these tests?  There are plenty of reasons, such as the tests have never been validated, the tests do NOT measure what a student learned in class that year, the tests are incredibly disruptive and take away valuable time from the classroom, the test questions cannot be seen by teacher or parent, scores don’t come back until the following year/grade level, the test scores are used as weapons to rank schools, teachers, and students,  much more so than the actual instruction-based curriculum and assessment they do the other 180 days out of the school year.
Another big reason parents dislike these big tests: data mining.  What information about the student is the test vendor getting? When tests are taken online, every key-stroke can be collected and later analyzed, via computer algorithms; this could be 1000s of hidden data points that parents have no way of seeing.   Some parents believe that taking the test via paper-pencil instead of online is a safer way to control what data is collected by the testing vendor.  Paper-pencil versions do eliminate the keystroke meta data, but please read on and follow up with your school.

ALL parents should be asking: Does your school / district give voluntary student information to the test vendor?  
In March 2015, the Colorado Board of Education (to their credit)  invited representatives from PARCC and Pearson to answer questions regarding what student data they collect from the PARCC test. The room was packed, parents submitted a plethora of questions beforehand. As reported here, many thought PARCC and Pearson side-stepped most of Student Biographical Data: is your school giving test vendors this “extra” information about your child? – Missouri Education Watchdog:

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