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Not prepared for college FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, recently reported that too much testing leaves students unprepared for college. Five-year trend data released in August by FairTest shows that ACT (American College Testing) scores have remained flat — and that little progress has been made in college readiness or in reducing the achievement gap — despite students ex- periencing a test-driven approach to so- called school reform since they were in fifth grade. “Based on ACT scores, they are not better prepared for col lege and the workforce, and over the same period, the racial achievement gap has not nar- rowed,” notes the study. “The ACT trend data confirm recent results from the federal government’s own National As- sessment of Educational Progress: NCLB is not effective.” Overemphasis on testing leaves stu- dents unprepared for the real world, she says. “I worry that I’m setting them up for failure in college because they don’t have time to write very much anymore. Putting full paragraphs together is a chore. It’s all about the test.” As for the California High School Exit Exam, researchers with PACE recently re- ported that CAHSEE had reduced the grad- uation rate for girls and minorities, and that the students subject to the CAHSEE requirement learned no more between 10th and 11th grade than similar students in the previous cohort who were not subject to the exam requirement. But testing isn’t likely to be reduced any time soon. “The pressure from business round- tables to privatize education has never been higher,” says Lucido. “The rope around the neck of schools being judged by their test performance has tightened almost irreversibly. Many testing com- panies have lobbied our Legislature to increase the assessment in schools. It seems to me that the current trend is to ‘test for the test’ so that one can do well on the test. It’s a big quagmire of non- sense that has no basis in research, only corporate ideology.” To really measure what students know, Darling-Hammond advocates using per- formance or “formative” assessments that measure critical-thinking skills in addition top: Dinuba Teachers Association member Annie Davidian-Moos. to current assessments. CTA also supports student assess- ment systems that use multiple mea- sures instead of a one-day snapshot based solely on test scores, says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “We sup- port an assessment system that mea- sures and encourages a focus on writing, research, scient if ic investigation, problem solving, and a host of other critically important skills.” november 2009 | 17

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