Schools Need “Assessment for Learning” Practices, not Assessment for Data to Create Political Narratives.

Shape Image One
Schools Need “Assessment for Learning” Practices, not Assessment for Data to Create Political Narratives.

Our Portland teacher union, Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), negotiated more planning time to prepare, teach and monitor lessons and curriculum. In the link below, you will find teachers advocating for more of a formative assessment teaching model. 

Asking for: “440 minutes of planning time each week at every grade level, including an additional 30-minute block of planning time within each school day for elementary educators.” Click here

According to Division 22, testing is counted as instructional time.

As you can see, assessment is considered instruction 

Regarding assessment as instruction, PPS uses MAP Growth assessments at the district level to monitor student growth in reading and mathematics. MAP is a required assessment, and the test windows allow eight weeks of instruction between the fall and winter assessments.

PPS can you thoroughly explain how standards are being instructed within the “8-week window” and what is being assessed? I know we say the criteria, but which standards are we referring to specifically?

MAP Growth assessment is a Norm-Referenced Test, and our state standardized test is a Criterion-Referenced Assessment. Norm-referenced tests compare a student’s performance to that of a normative sample of similar individuals, while criterion-referenced tests measure a student’s performance against specific learning objectives or standards.

Norm-referenced tests typically use percentile scores to rank students’ performance relative to their peers. In contrast, criterion-referenced tests use predetermined criteria or rubrics to determine whether students have met specific learning objectives.

Norm-referenced tests are specifically designed to rank test takers on a “bell curve,” or a distribution of scores that resembles, when graphed, the outline of a bell—i.e., a small percentage of students performing well, most performing average, and a small percentage performing poorly. 

Norm-referenced tests and “The Bell Curve” are similar in that they can both be used to promote eugenicist ideas. The eugenics movement was based on the belief that certain groups of people were genetically inferior and that their reproduction should be controlled or limited. Norm-referenced tests and “The Bell Curve” have been criticized for perpetuating similar beliefs, suggesting that differences in performance or intelligence across individuals or groups are primarily due to genetics rather than environmental factors.

While norm-referenced tests are not inherently eugenicist, some proponents of standardized testing have used test results to justify discriminatory practices or policies. For example, some have argued that certain racial or ethnic groups perform worse on standardized tests because they are inherently less intelligent rather than because of structural inequalities such as poverty, discrimination, or lack of educational opportunities.

Similarly, “The Bell Curve” has been criticized for promoting the idea that intelligence is primarily determined by genetics rather than environmental factors such as education, nutrition, and other social determinants of health. Some individuals and organizations have used this idea to justify discriminatory policies or beliefs based on genetic differences between racial or ethnic groups.

Therefore, while norm-referenced tests and “The Bell Curve” may not be explicitly eugenicist themselves, they can perpetuate harmful stereotypes about certain racial or ethnic groups if they are not designed and administered carefully while considering cultural diversity.

Learn more about the history of assessment here during our Teaching With Purpose Assessment Summit on 4/10/2021

PPS board goals are to close the opportunity and outcome gaps in third-grade reading between students of color and their white peers by the metrics set forth, as measured by the Oregon State Assessment System (OSAS)

● African – American Students by 5.5 percentage points per year

● Pacific Islanders by 5.0 percentage points per year

● Native – American Students by 6.1 percentage points per year

● Latino Students by 3.9 percentage points per year

● Asian Students by 2.6 percentage points per year

The PPS board goals are based on a different form of summative assessment, which is a criterion-referenced test. 

Our district leadership presented the current MAP Growth data on the same day our Teacher Union PAT was negotiating for more time. Some board members asked important questions; however, the response did not answer them indirectly. 

Click here for the exchange:

The MAP Growth Assessment wastes time and instructional time because of data usage. 

In the link below, you will find what our Oregon Department of Education Director of Assessment had to say during our Teaching With Purpose Assessment Summit on 4/8/2022

PPS and PAT show how MAP Growth Assessment is aligned with curriculum standards being taught and how these tests help with real-time instruction and curriculum modifications. 

If not, I am asking PPS to discontinue using MAP Growth Assessment data and look more closely at curriculum assessment data to monitor how students are growing with the curriculum being taught. 

All teachers, parents, and students should boycott the MAP Growth Assessment and call for a reallocation of funds that will go towards what teachers are asking for, which is more time to be effective teachers, not test administrators that only serve the purpose random growth data that has nothing to do with what was being taught in the classroom. 

Portland Public Schools Racial Educational Equity Policy 2.10.010-P states:

“The District shall remedy the practices, including assessment, that lead to the over-representation of students of color in areas such as special education and discipline, and the under-representation in programs such as talented and gifted and Advanced Placement.”

Hoping my true educators Know, This be the realest piece I ever wrote, Against all odds. This line is a play off a Rap scheme line/bar from the song Against All Odds by 2pac. As 2pac faced opposition, it reminded us that we must face it head-on. 

This is a pivotal time in our educational system. We can turn for the better, or we can turn for the worse. Against All Odds of belief systems, MAP growth assessment is NOT an effective tool for instruction. 

Let’s take action and create equity for our children of color who face great inequity in education systems throughout the United States. Now is the time to make sure we are doing what is best for our students, not just what is most accessible or most convenient. We must ensure all students have access to equitable assessments and curriculums to thrive in the world they created. 

In conclusion, the Portland Public Schools board must consider the current data being shared from MAP Growth and look more closely at curriculum assessment data to monitor how students are growing with the curriculum being taught. We must also be mindful of our Racial Educational Equity Policy 2.10.010-P, which is built on equity for all students when making decisions about assessment tools. When we prioritize our students’ needs and provide them with equitable assessments that accurately measure growth and learning, we will set them up for success in the world they created. 

Together, let’s ensure all our children have access to high-quality education and can reach their full potential!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *