Not to discredit the 100 students, but why are there only 100?
Why not 99? or 101? or 297? or 5,999?
Out of the thousands and thousands of students across the state that took this test, only 100 were rated "perfect."
Only 100. That number is just too "perfect" to be an accident.
There is a rubric for scoring these tests (which are scored by people found on Craigslist, which is a whole different problem that needs to be addressed). Nowhere in this document does it say there will only be 100 perfect scores.
By thinking critically, one might think the TDOE intentionally manipulated the scores on the TCAP Writing Test so that a nice, round 100 would receive the top rating. Could it be?
At any rate, the TDOE is using these 100 "perfect" students as their living advertisements to convince the public that these tests are worthwhile. Each "perfect" student receives a special certificate signed by Governor Haslam and Commissioner Candice McQueen (who was not Commissioner when these children actually took the test in February 2014).
It is brilliant marketing... Creating an elite 100 encourages local newspapers and school districts to proudly show their "perfect" student they produced. It gives power to this test, too.
Not only that, those 100 students are now using their perfect writing skills to write essays for TDOE to be used on the TDOE Classroom Chronicles blog (Click HERE and HERE to read some of those perfect students' blogs.)
This manipulation is wrong on many levels.
First, if there are only to be 100 perfect scores, then it really doesn't matter if every student in the state writes an essay worthy of a Nobel Laureate award because only 100 will get the top score.
Second, is it acceptable for the state to use children to promote a test created by a private company?
The TDOE website says, "The rubrics used to score the 2015 test will remain the same as the 2014 TCAP Writing Assessment." Does that mean there will be 100 perfect scores next year, too?
How can we possibly be "fastest improving state in the nation" if only 100 can make it to the top?
Teachers and parents are realizing this TCAP writing test has major problems, including:
- technology glitches, slow internet, lost essays, etc.
- a confusing MIST platform students must use to write an essay in a tiny little text box the size of a cell phone screen while tabbing between two different articles they must read
- a significant amount of time must be spent training students on how to use this cumbersome MIST format that they will never use for any other purpose. It is not like Microsoft Word for PCs, Pages for Apple, or Open Office word processing.
- the amount of money wasted on this test that could be spent on other needed things for schools.
- Last year, this test was called the "PARCC Writing Assessment". This year it is called the "TCAP Writing Assessment". Very little has changed except for the name. Wait, didn't the TN Legislature vote to get out of PARCC last year? Then why are our children still taking this test?
- This test was administered over the entire month of February. This tied up computer labs that should be used for technology classes, as well as disrupted class schedules for students.
- Children are required to type to complete the test. There is little, if any, formal typing instruction in elementary or middle school. How are test results not going to be skewed based on typing skills? How is it really a measure of academic ability?
- Kids in homes without internet access or computers do not get the exposure to technology to be able to practice typing. How does this writing (typing) test not add to the performance gap due to lack of access to technology for those students in poverty?
TN Parents question the validity of this test and all state tests. We wonder if the scores are intentionally manipulated like this for the other tests, too? Since last year's TCAP results were delayed because the TDOE manipulated the cut scores and aligned test questions, we have reason to believe that the scores set up a predetermined number of students to be advanced, proficient, and failures.
We may not have millions of dollars like the Chamber of Commerce to issue a fancy report from a biased think tank, but TN Parents give the TDOE a big fat F for "Truth in Advertising."