Tulsa World Editorial: State writing test flunks again

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TULSA WORLD: For the second consecutive year, the state Department of Education is ditching fifth- and eighth-grade writing test results when figuring A-F report cards for public schools.

It’s public acknowledgment that the 97,000 scores on the expensive test aren’t reliable.

School leaders complain that this year’s test had obvious scoring issues: Advanced students who were scored unaccountably low; some students who did poorly on the reading test did very well on the writing test; and large numbers of students receiving the same grade.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister inherited writing test contracts through fiscal 2019 worth a combined $48 million with Measured Progress.

An Oklahoma Watch story shows that the company was using graders recruited off Craigslist and paid $11.50 an hour. No classroom teaching credentials or experience was required.

Every paper was read by two graders, but if you don’t have the right people in the room in the first place, repeating the exercise doesn’t solve the problem.

Hofmeister questions the need for a separate writing assessment, and we see her point.

The costs of the test failure are not just measured in the money going to the contractor. Time has been taken away from classroom teaching to prep kids for a test that won’t be used to diagnose anything.

It could be an issue with the second vendor in a row, but it also might be an indicator of the impossibility of grading 97,000 writing samples in an economical, efficient and consistent fashion.

The Legislature needs to take a reality test about the idea of a mass writing exam and whether there might be a better way to get results that actually can be used.

Original Post: http://bit.ly/1IvqHlL

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