Posts tagged testing

"Common Core testing prepares our students for what they’ll face as adults: pointless stress and confusion."

STEPHEN COLBERT, The Colbert Report (via inothernews)

Okay, I’m going to say this again.  And I will say it every time this appears on my dashboard because if you are tired of people speaking poorly of education and teachers than you need to stop also.  You need to understand the common core and the politics around it because it is your job to.

There is no such thing as “Common Core Testing.”  The Common Core are learning standards.  A standard is a level of quality and is used to gauge learning by setting a bar that is the expected level a student should reach.

To gauge learning you need to assess a student’s performance, skills, and knowledge.  An assessment is any way to collect information about students, curriculum, schools, etc. to help make a decision on things like effectiveness of lesson or how well a student understands a concept.

(Kudos to you if you are still reading!)

Thus, a standard is not an assessment. We need assessments to gauge student learning in relation to a standard.  If the assessment does not assess the objective or standard then that is an invalid assessment and the result will not be reliable.  Thus, the teacher can make no valid interpretation of the results.

So, yes, standardized tests are going to assess the common core standards.  They have to.  The fact that these tests are standardized and have high stakes for teachers has nothing to do with the common core.  Programs such as Race to the Top are causing states states to push the standardized assessments.  Why? MONEY. They must adopt the assessments as well as the standards to get the money.

Want the plain and simple?  Common Core Standards, don’t worry about them. Standardized state assessments on the other hand, we could do without.  

(via aredhat)

Common Core Standards are being PUSHED by text book companies to make a few more bucks with NOW ALIGNED WITH COMMON CORE STANDARDS textbooks, tests, test prep, RtI curriculum, etc.  

Except they are mediocre standards at best and at least in the K-3 aren’t always developmentally appropriate.  For example, they leave out patterning in K all together.  I know a few high school teachers that aren’t fans.   The new common core standard idea I think came about BECAUSE of this atmosphere of standardized tests we’ve come to know.  I don’t think if there wasn’t such an emphasis on the tests that Common Core would have been created in the first place.

Vocabulary Instruction in Today’s Classroom Part 2

Read Part I

Why Is Vocabulary Instruction Important?

If you are also a teacher, you are probably thinking to yourself, “Well this is obvious.”  Vocabulary instruction is important because without understanding the meaning of the words you read, you cannot comprehend text (Christ & Wang 2010). In observations of sixth graders in a school with a population that was ethnically diverse and came from low-income homes, Kelley, Lesaux, Kieffer, and Faller (2010) found that approximately 10% of English Language Arts time was spent on teaching vocabulary.  These students scored lower on standardized tests than students who were part of classrooms with increased vocabulary instruction.  In these classrooms, words were taught with nonfiction texts in 45 minute periods, and the words were used for two weeks.  Therefore, the discussion needs to be, “Why is more vocabulary instruction important?”

One of the main reasons I believe that vocabulary instruction needs an increased role in the classroom because it is one of the areas that my struggling and good readers alike have the most difficulty with.  They have little knowledge, besides asking me, how to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word.  As I proctor some standardized tests this month to students that are in my classes and others, I notice a number of them having a difficult time understanding what is being asked of them.  Kelley et al. (2010) states, “academic vocabulary, the specialized and sophisticated language of a test, is a particular source of difficulty for students who struggle with comprehension” in urban middle schools (p. 5).  I would argue that this is also the case in many middle class suburban schools.  Bromley (2007) identifies vocabulary as being instrumental in students’ comprehension of texts, reading fluency, and achievement. Along similar lines Richek (2005) concludes that vocabulary knowledge is one of the top predictors of reading success.  If we want our students to succeed, they need quality vocabulary instruction.  Not a list of words that are squeezed in using a dictionary. 

Furthermore, I believe vocabulary instruction is important because once students begin to struggle with vocabulary and comprehension, they disengage.  Good readers on the other hand, that read often continue to improve their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension skills.  Struggling readers then fall even further behind their peers.  It is for this reason that I believe more vocabulary instruction is important at all grade levels.

Wasik (2010) recognizes that learning vocabulary is a vital element when a child is developing reading skills and it plays a significant role in their success throughout school.  According to Hart and Risley (1995), children they studied that were 3 years old and came from low income households knew 600 fewer words than other 3 year olds from wealthier families.  By the time these children were in the 2nd grade, the difference between the two populations was estimated at 4,000.   Students generally begin to lose interest in reading by 4th grade, and even more so if the student is identified as a struggling reader (Applegate & Applegate 2010).  This piece of data clearly indicates to me that we must increase vocabulary instruction at the primary level in order to limit the decrease in at-risk students’ motivations to read.

Furthermore, it is important that vocabulary instruction does not only include teaching of words.  We also must spend increased instructional time teaching how to use context cues, the meaning of specific morphemes, related words, and outside resources in order to determine what a word means in specific contexts.  “If our goal is to help students improve understanding … then words need to be pulled apart, put together, defined informally, practiced in writing, and played with regularly …” (Kelley 2010).  A significant amount of time must be spent on learning and using words in a variety of media with different shades of meaning for a student to truly understand a word and begin to include it in their own speaking vocabulary.  There needs to be specific vocabulary instruction time carved into not only the Language Arts periods, but the content areas as well.


(Listed in order that they appeared, and when possible linked to the publishing organization’s online copy of it — although a subscription may be required.   Also, yes I read all of these — except the book, which I only read a small part of).


Bridging the Vocabulary Gap: What Research Tells Us about Vocabulary Instruction in Early Childhood,  Tanya Christ and Christine Wang, Young Children, July 2010

Effective Academic Vocabulary Instruction in the Urban Middle School, Joan G. Kelley, Nonie K. Lesaux, Michael J. Kieffer, S. Elisabeth Faller, The Reading Teacher, September 2010

Nine Things Every Teacher Should Know About Words and Vocabulary Instruction, Karen Bromley, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, April 2007

Words Are Wonderful: Interactive, Time-Efficient Strategies to Teach Meaning Vocabulary, Margaret Ann Richek, The Reading Teacher, February 2005

 What Teachers Can Do to Promote Preschoolers’ Vocabulary Development: Strategies From an Effective Language and Literacy Professional Development Coaching Model, Barbara A. Wasik, The Reading Teacher, May 2010

Hart, B., & T. Risley. 1995. Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young children. Baltimore: Brookes.

A Study of Thoughtful Literacy and the Motivation to Read, Anthony J. Applegate, Mary DeKonty Applegate, The Reading Teacher, December 2010




Vocaroo - free way to make voice recordings.

omeone asked me yesterday if I knew of a simple voice recording service to replace the one that offered before announcing their shut down. Vocaroo could be a good replacement for the voice recording service. 

Vocaroo is a free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need to install any software. You don’t even have to create an account to use Vocaroo. All you need to provide is a microphone. I used the microphone built into my MacBook to make the recording below. To create a recording just go to, click record, grant Vocaroo access to your mic, and start talking. After completing your recording, Vocaroo gives you the choice to publish it or to scrap it and try again.

This could be an excellent tool for my students that need their tests read to them, but do not come to see me enough for them to take all their tests with me.

Click the link for the whole article.


Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for this tool.

Testmoz is a simple service for creating and administering multiple choice tests online. Testmoz provides a unique url for the tests you create. Testmoz also provides a “pass code” that test takers have to enter. As the administrator of the tests you create you can quickly see who has taken your test and how many questions they answered correctly.