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Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the krampfing-their-style dept.

Education 663

gurps_npc writes "Robert Krampf, who runs the web site 'The Happy Scientist,' recently wrote in his blog about problems with Florida's Science FCAT. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is an attempt to measure how smart the students are. Where other states have teachers cheating to help students, Florida decided to grade correct answers as wrong. Mr. Krampf examined the state's science answers and found several that clearly listed right answers as wrong. One question had 3 out of 4 answers that were scientifically true. He wrote to the Florida Department of Education's Test Development center. They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong. As such, they were not changing the tests. Note: they wouldn't let him examine real tests, just the practice tests given out. So we have no idea if FCAT is simply too lazy to provide good practice questions, or too stupid to be allowed to test our children."

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663 comments

The most important lesson in life being taught (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#39705099)

Who's right doesn't matter, who has the power does!

Re:The most important lesson in life being taught (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705163)

Who's right doesn't matter, who has the power does!

Yes, but kiddies also need to be taught that it *ought* to work that way.

Otherwise some of them will get uppity later in life.

Re:The most important lesson in life being taught (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#39705463)

There is no power involved. The only FCAT that matters is the 10th grade one. You need that to graduate.

Re:The most important lesson in life being taught (1, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#39705565)

Close. The most important lessons I've learned is three fundamental truths in life. Everything else being immaterial nuance.

1. The world is governed by assholes.
2. The world is governed by the aggressive use of force. Rush Limbaugh's rule #6
3. We're just another money in the social hierarchical tree of life.

Yup. That pretty much sums up humanity and our world history.

No child left... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705117)

...educated.

Common Misconceptions (4, Interesting)

KalvinB (205500) | about 2 years ago | (#39705143)

You have to realize that teachers teach those misconceptions so they can pretend to teach a particular concept when other essential prior knowledge has not been covered yet. This happens a lot in math as well. For example we covered a problem that could be solved without the mid-point formula but the mid-point formula drastically reduced the complexity. Most teachers would just find a way to fudge it. I went ahead and taught the midpoint formula.

It really is up for debate how much a kid and handle and if we should teach all the essentials or just give them a few hacks so we can teach other parts of the whole. Personally I despise teaching misconceptions but I haven't been around long enough to say conclusively it's not necessary. I just haven't found a particular case yet where it is.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | about 2 years ago | (#39705199)

If you read TFA, you'll find that this isn't assuming that student's won't know something yet - it is defining a predator as an organism that gets its nutrients from consuming another organism (meaning a cow is a predictor).

And even if it was the first, consider the impact on anyone with an advanced-for-their-age understanding, and the impact on them. It knocks down their confidence in their budding intelligence, reduces to the least common denominator.

No, this is wrong in every way, and not defensible.

Re:Common Misconceptions (4, Interesting)

GodInHell (258915) | about 2 years ago | (#39705351)

My favorite story of ignorant "science" teachers from growing up, test question: Do plants produce or consume oxygen? Answer - both, produce in photosynthesis, consume in resparation. Graded wrong with a note: plants don't respire!!
sigh.

Re:Common Misconceptions (2)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#39705439)

I remember one that was something like this:

Mushroom: Plant as _______: Animal

A: Cat
B: Pizza
C: Rock
D: Table

I guessed the "Correct" answer was A. Really those tests were full of questions like this.

Re:Common Misconceptions (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705545)

That would be totally correct... if you went to school in the 18th century.

Re:Common Misconceptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705699)

Wouldn't that be 'neither?' Plants don't seem to perform any thermonuclear reactions, just chemical reactions. A plant might be thought of as consuming carbon dioxide and releasing free oxygen, but it doesn't produce oxygen since it doesn't release any oxygen that it didn't first take in.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39705355)

If you read TFA, you'll find that this isn't assuming that student's won't know something yet - it is defining a predator as an organism that gets its nutrients from consuming another organism (meaning a cow is a predator).

They're just trying to teach critical thinking - getting young minds to consider alternative points of view. In this instance, for example, they want the students to look at things from the point of view of the grass!

(also, FTFY)

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | about 2 years ago | (#39705443)

If you read TFA, you'll find that this isn't assuming that student's won't know something yet - it is defining a predator as an organism that gets its nutrients from consuming another organism (meaning a cow is a predictor)....

[pedant]Actually, a cow can be considered a predator. And because the prey (eg area of grass) survives the cow is a grazing predator - just like a mosquito.[/pedant]

Hey... what happened to [shift}+[,] and [shift]+[.]?

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 2 years ago | (#39705513)

Actually, a cow can be considered a predator. And because the prey (eg area of grass) survives the cow is a grazing predator - just like a mosquito.

I think that the relevant definition of "predator" hinges on survival by eating other animals.

Re:Common Misconceptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705203)

a kid and handle... is that like 2 girls and a cup?

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39705215)

It's clear you did the right thing as an educator. I hope you continue to do these things to the best of your abilities. Students love it when you teach them the easier way of doing things - it leads to a better understanding of the material.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#39705243)

I read the article and it seems to me that the practice test has major flaws in that those who wrote the practice tests were not precise. The definitions were off. The 3 of 4 example was one where the student of asked which of the 4 was testable:
  1. The petals of red roses are softer than the petals of yellow roses.
  2. The song of a mockingbird is prettier than the song of a cardinal.
  3. Orange blossoms give off a sweeter smell than gardenia flowers.
  4. Sunflowers with larger petals attract more bees than sunflowers with smaller petals.

Softness is a physical property you can test. Sweetness when it comes to aromas is a chemical response. And size vs bee attraction is also testable. What the question intends is which of these is most plausible when it comes to cause and effect which the right answer is 4. 1 and 3 are right due to the way the question was asked.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Insightful)

Milyardo (1156377) | about 2 years ago | (#39705415)

The misconception this question enforces is stronger than that. 1 and 3 attempt compare the the measurement of physical properties while number 4 is a behavioural observation that can only be measured through correlation. Numbers 1 and 3 can be proven to be fact through measurement while number can only be a hypothesis(that can only be proven with a causation or disproven with a observation that states otherwise). From the TFA the purpose of the question is asses the student's ability to discern opinion/interpretation from a scientific observation. While number is undoubtedly a scientific observation, asserting number 4 is true after observation is still an opinion/interpretation, making it a poor choice to assert that student has a clear understanding of the difference between opinion and fact.

Re:Common Misconceptions (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#39705429)

The response to his questions was pretty telling also. The official agreed with the science, that 3 of the answers were testable, but he said that students who learned about mineral hardness couldn't be expected to realize that applied to other materials, and that students couldn't be expected to realize that you can use a chromatograph (or anything else) to test the qualities of a smell.

The obvious solution is to choose other properties that are actually non-testable instead of list testable properties and assume the students won't know, but they refused to change those responses.

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

mkiwi (585287) | about 2 years ago | (#39705507)

Sweetness when it comes to aromas is a chemical response.

That response is relative to each person, so it can't be objectively tested. It's a result that has to be interpreted and can't be measured.

Softness of a pedal can be tested, as it is a physical quality of each pedal. Granted, you may need a University laboratory to prove it, but it's still possible. If you were told to choose only one answer, 4 is the only logical choice, because doing a study on bees is easier than measuring the material properties of a plant.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Insightful)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 2 years ago | (#39705273)

There is no excuse. When there is a multiple choice question where only one choice is allowed, (like most standardized tests), all correct answers should be counted as correct. If there are answers that are correct for subtle reasons, either put alternate (more obvious) incorrect choices, or allow them as alternative correct answers.
No debate is necessary.

Re:Common Misconceptions (5, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#39705419)

In multiple choice questions, the "most correct" answer is the right one. Otherwise, all answers can be correct, if you argue hard enough (if it's at all subjective).

The problem is, they used a stupid question - you can scientifically test the "softness" or "sweetness" of a flower. There should be one that's obviously "most correct".

For in-class quizzes, it's not so important (as the student can challenge it), but for a state-wide test there shouldn't be any wriggle room.

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#39705707)

The problem is that it's hard to construct a hypothesis that isn't testable except for hypotheses that they can't list on a test, e.g. God created the universe.

Okay, I suppose they could go absurd, like "Invisible trolls live under the bridge and occasionally eat small children", or philosophical, like "The universe is infinite" or "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", but....

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#39705701)

That is not how a lot of teacher do it. Often it is the Most correct that is graded correct (you are lucky if you get 1/2 points for the other correct ones).

Re:Common Misconceptions (1)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | about 2 years ago | (#39705555)

You have to realize that teachers teach those misconceptions so they can pretend to teach a particular concept when other essential prior knowledge has not been covered yet. This happens a lot in math as well. For example we covered a problem that could be solved without the mid-point formula but the mid-point formula drastically reduced the complexity. Most teachers would just find a way to fudge it. I went ahead and taught the midpoint formula.

It really is up for debate how much a kid and handle and if we should teach all the essentials or just give them a few hacks so we can teach other parts of the whole. Personally I despise teaching misconceptions but I haven't been around long enough to say conclusively it's not necessary. I just haven't found a particular case yet where it is.

Have you tried presenting the misconception as something like "This is a simplified model which has some inaccuracies that you can live with for now. I can't go into the accurate version yet because you'll need next year's maths to get it properly..."

Science is just voodoo magic anyway. (5, Funny)

forkfail (228161) | about 2 years ago | (#39705159)

Good for making the magic iBoxes work so I can watch porn, but not so much for anything important, like resource utilization or climate modeling. And anyway, math is hard. Who needs it when you can just be a landscaper or stripper anyway?

Re:Science is just voodoo magic anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705239)

And anyway, math is hard. Who needs it when you can just be a landscaper or stripper anyway?

Well, maybe if you've never seen the really GOOD strippers before...

Excuse me, but what is this? (4, Insightful)

sixtyeight (844265) | about 2 years ago | (#39705169)

I've been noticing stories that are covered much like this a lot on Slashdot lately. It's difficult to know whether it's journalism - which reports the facts and allows the reader to reach their own conclusion about them - an editorial piece - which is where blatantly opinion-laden writing is usually found - or tabloid reporting - which purports to be legitimate but is usually written for sensationalism.

I realize that proper journalism went out when political pundits were brought in, but this weird crossbreed of online reporting is becoming a trend.

Re:Excuse me, but what is this? (4, Funny)

Kidbro (80868) | about 2 years ago | (#39705259)

Could you please point me to a place where they have this proper journalism of which you speak?

Re:Excuse me, but what is this? (3, Interesting)

sixtyeight (844265) | about 2 years ago | (#39705371)

This works. [loc.gov]

If we can agree that the mainstream news media are no longer opting to practice legitimate journalism, and that many new online reporters do not know how, it doesn't follow that journalistic standards do not exist, or that they're impossible to implement or insist upon. I think it may argue the case in favor of them more strongly.

Re:Excuse me, but what is this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705313)

You must be new here. Slashdot hasn't really been journalism since oh, 1997 or earlier.

Re:Excuse me, but what is this? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705325)

No. You're wrong.

Assuming the author isn't batantly fabricating anything (i.e. the responses from the state) this is fact, not opinion.

If you RTFA the sample questions listed clearly have multiple correct answers and that's the crux of the piece. One could argue that the official answers are "more correct" (e.g. frequency of bee arrivals may be easier to test than the softness of a petal), but the issues documented in the article are real and relevant to the public interest.

Re:Excuse me, but what is this? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#39705639)

THe crux of the piece is that they assume that the child wont be able to extrapolate from one area of science (testing hardness) to another, and will penalize the student smart enough to make that extrapolation.

This bugged the heck out of me throughout school, how the standardized tests were ambiguous as hell. I generally knew when I didnt know a concept, but I think more often my wrong answers were because I didnt pick the specific correct answer that the test key had.

It ends up not being a test of knowledge, but who is best at taking test and discerning which particular hoop they want you to jump through (or fill in with a #2 pencil).

This is Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705451)

Having read the piece, I'd say that the Happy Scientist's post was actually conventional journalism (done in a rather brief and bloggy style).

He briefly outlines the test he's discussing, including the ramifications for schools that underperform on that test, and then outlines what he felt to be factual errors in the test. He then contacts primary sources (the test makers) for their commentary, allows them to comment on his findings, and rebuts their assertions, again, drawing on his own expertise as a science educator.

The last two paragraphs are when the editorializing starts. But he did a good job singling out specific problems, seeking out proper sources for comment and allowing them to speak fully to the issues. "Unbiased" newspaper-style journalism is one style, and when done well it's praiseworthy. It's not the only style of journalism out there, as centuries of "biased" magazine reporting would show: Mother Jones and the Economist are both magazines with clear ideological orientations that do valuable reporting.

The key is always that the facts are not in question, and that the fact-finding remains undistorted by the interpretation, so a reader has the tools to understand and challenge those interpretations for themselves.

Re:This is Slashdot (1)

sixtyeight (844265) | about 2 years ago | (#39705671)

I agree with you.

I'd been referring to gurps_npc's writeup of the piece, and particularly his or her conclusion.

How smart? (1)

jr88keys (2619203) | about 2 years ago | (#39705177)

No, the FCAT measures student achievement. No standardized test would claim or attempt to measure "how smart the students are."

Re:How smart? (2)

King InuYasha (1159129) | about 2 years ago | (#39705219)

Everybody gets this confused. All standardized tests for scholastic purposes measure achievement or potential achievement, not how "smart" someone is. That being said, everyone says that these tests measure how smart you are, which isn't true.

Re:How smart? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#39705567)

Everybody gets this confused. All standardized tests for scholastic purposes measure achievement or potential achievement, not how "smart" someone is.

IQ tests are used for scholastic purposes. They pretty expressly are intended to measure how "smart" someone is.

(Plus, a number of tests that are intended to measure potential acheivement have results that correlate very strongly with IQ, which suggests that, intentionally or not, they also measure how smart you are. Which shouldn't be surprising, since "potential acheivement" and "being smart" are very closely linked concepts -- even if actual acheivement and being smart are more distantly related concepts.)
 

Re:How smart? (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39705249)

Even then I wonder how they can manage to measure "student achievement" if a correct answer turns out to be "wrong".

Re:How smart? (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#39705563)

They've just decided that overeducation is also bad, and that the best achievement is mediocrity. So they're testing for average knowledge.

Re:How smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705661)

Item Response Theory.

In all the high stakes tests for NCLB that I am familiar with, all of the test items undergo fairly extensive review, not "subjectively" for correctness and bias, but these items are seeded as experimental in the actual tests delivered but do not count towards student measurements. The statistics of the experimental items are examined, looking at the discriminant ability of the question, the probability of getting the question right or wrong given an estimate of student skill. Test items are routinely rejected based on the subjective reviews and analysis from item testing.

However, each state does determine how the test is assembled, administered, and what the item characteristics are. From my experience, Florida is, um, rather challenged in assessment.

What did you expect? (0, Offtopic)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 years ago | (#39705183)

You're expecting a lot from a state that would elect Rick Scott governor. Modern Florida is what you get when the tea party runs a state.

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705417)

Ah, you mean the states that aren't running massive deficits? There's very little correlation between the amount of money spent on education and the quality of the service provided. What you end up building is an expensive bureaucracy over the whole system... the kind that makes tests like this.

States that aren't running massive deficits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705607)

Please tell us which states, and why.

I bet you will find that the only ones without deficits are the ones who can impose a tax burden on other states.

Texas especially, but also Alaska, Oklahoma, the Dakotas and West Virginia.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#39705659)

Except we had this same crap in Virginia, including when Warner was running the state. But go ahead, bash the tea party and show your ignorance.

In reply to the title alone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705189)

The sad part is that they're probably right.

Fark has a "Florida Tag" for a reason (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705191)

News stories out of Florida always paint Floridians as stupid, so this is why Fark.com has a special "Florida" tag.

Banana monochromator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705211)

From K12 Science 3, Semester assessment
Question: Explain why a banana looks yellow.
Sample answer: Answers may vary but should include: When the light hits the banana, the surface of the banana reflects yellow light back to our eyes and absorbs other colors of the visible spectrum.

Re:Banana monochromator (2)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 years ago | (#39705685)

That one's not too bad because it's not presented as a multiple choice question but as something for a teacher to grade. It's obviously asking the teacher to look for the student's knowledge that the banana is yellow because of the light it reflects. A student who gave an actual correct answer (that the banana reflects a part of the spectrum that looks yellow when combined) would then be marked as correct.

And to add another anecdote to the mix, I had an elementary schoolteacher who insisted that iodine is a liquid. She probably thought that bottles of "iodine" contain pure iodine rather than this being short for "iodine solution".

Ah, Florida... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705217)

Par for the course for the only state with it's own Fark tag...

FCAT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705225)

What you see here is the result letting an organization take charge that willingly misspells the word "fact" in order to name themselves.

Re:FCAT (3, Funny)

alexo (9335) | about 2 years ago | (#39705455)

What you see here is the result letting an organization take charge that willingly misspells the word "fact" in order to name themselves.

I don not remember hearing you complain when French Connection UK used a similar tactic.

protecting pseudoscience (0)

jaroslav (467876) | about 2 years ago | (#39705233)

Honestly, I'd bet the reason the test designers are using these correct "incorrect" answers is because they know they can't include more appropriate examples of non-testable theories. Specifically: "God created the Earth in 7 days", "God created man in his own image", etc. etc.

Reminds me of elementary school (2)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#39705245)

Teacher was introducing order of operations, and started off by using the incorrect way as an example of what not to do (as in "you solve it this way right? AHA you were WRONG! It's actually this way!) Well, being the smartass who already knew order of operations I jumped the gun had to make it clear to her how wrong that was. Got yelled at for messing up her teaching plan haha

Re:Reminds me of elementary school (4, Funny)

captjc (453680) | about 2 years ago | (#39705427)

I had a similar incident around 3rd or 4th grade about the "3 states of matter". There was a bit of a kerfuffle when I mentioned plasma. It got worse when I later corrected that glass didn't technically fit the classical model of a solid. That is what I get for reading too much...

Re:Reminds me of elementary school (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#39705587)

My teachers got wise to that response so I had to start reminding them about Bose-Einstein condensates.

Re:Reminds me of elementary school (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705431)

Personally I'm still a little sore about the time when I was 7 years old and the class was asked to write a definition of a certain word. Having a familiarity with the dictionary's style I wrote what would be suitable for a dictionary. However the teacher would not believe I had not cheated and taken it from an actual dictionary. Seems rather remiss for a teacher to ignore such ability. I'm now 32 and I still can't let it go, an abject failure in life, but at least I know that at age 7 I outclassed a school teacher intellectually!

Re:Reminds me of elementary school (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39705511)

While not quite the same thing, I have an interesting anecdote from elementary school as well. By the time I was in the 4th grade, I was already reading books such as Michael Crichton. In 4th grade we used to have to fill out sheets showing what books we were reading. One week I put in that I had read The Lost World. When the teacher returned it to me, she had written on there asking if I wanted help finding "more age appropriate books". I remember our school library had a set of books on the Vietnam War. I must have gone through those 4-5 times as well between 3rd and 5th grade.

Re:Reminds me of elementary school (0)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#39705631)

Not quite the same (since the teacher didn't really know the correct answer), but my favorite story like this is from a friend who was asked, "what's heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold."

To the elementary teachers out their, you should always use bricks or lead in that example...

Not just florida... (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39705263)

In michigan during the 80's I proved a chemistry teacher wrong in the 6th grade. He Flunked me on the test for being "combative" and "not respecting authority". I took it home to my dad and my oldest brother, who worked as a chemist looked at the problem and my answer and said, " you are correct, the teacher is an idiot" and went with my dad to a conference with the teacher asking the principal to be there.

By me saying " no you are wrong", and then saying "NO WAY! THAT"S UNFAIR" I was being combative. my dad ripped into the principal and the teacher for 1 hour. My grade got changed to an A before they left.

A lot of teachers are not teaching but regurgitating what is in the book, and the book was wrong. the teacher was outed as not doing his job and by dad found out he actually was an english major and had only 1 class in chemistry.

Any monkey can regurgitate a book. IT's time we get real teachers in there and fire all the administration that makes retard decisions to have the Phys Ed teacher, to hold the algebra classes because he knows how to use a calculator.

Re:Not just florida... (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | about 2 years ago | (#39705307)

If we want good education for our kids (and thus, to maintain our position as an economic world power), there's two things that need be done.

First, hold teachers accountable. As you note, having the tenured gym teacher teach algebra because he can use a calculator must stop.

But the other bit is that we have to pay the true professionals what they're worth. Look at the teachers in the nations that lead on the test scores (Finland, Japan, etc) - they're not only highly respected, they're highly paid.

Re:Not just florida... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705423)

Can't be done in this country currently, the teacher's unions are too much money for the DNC in their current form in order to risk losing some of it by changing things.

You mention holding teacher's accountable. It has been mentioned many time here on /. with hundreds of people explaining how it won't be fair no matter which metric. Not a single post ever says, "finally the good teachers will have a chance to be recognized and given the bigger raises". Its more important to protect bad teachers.

Throwing more money at education doesn't work, you can look at spending vs results over different areas. More money means more burecrats, which equals more DNC money from union members. More money improving education does not equal more money for DNC, so it won't happen.

GOP is not allowed to do anything with education without guarnteeing losing elections due to lies from the DNC.

So you are suggesting we stop the DNC's war against children.

Re:Not just florida... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705525)

GOP is not allowed to do anything with education without guarnteeing losing elections due to lies from the DNC.

Ah yes, the GOP. The science-loving organisation that has done so much to combat myths like creationism and unscientific prejudices like sexism and racism. Them.

Re:Not just florida... (4, Interesting)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 2 years ago | (#39705591)

Can't be done in this country currently, the teacher's unions are too much money for the DNC in their current form in order to risk losing some of it by changing things...

GOP is not allowed to do anything with education without guarnteeing losing elections due to lies from the DNC.

So you are suggesting we stop the DNC's war against children.

I notice you very carefully neglected to mention what exactly Republicans would like to do to increase education. Teach creationism in science class? An economics class explaining how cutting taxes while vastly increasing spending (during wartime, for example) leads to a balanced budget? Babies from storks?

The fact is, neither party has any interest in educating anyone, as it would put their jobs at risk.

Re:Not just florida... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705597)

I would be surprised if Finland doesn't have just as strong unions as we do in Norway (where practically everyone is in some kind of union)...

Re:Not just florida... (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#39705705)

It's not that the metrics don't work, it's that in most areas teachers literally have to read from a script.

How could it possibly be fair to judge someone by the effectiveness of a standard curriculum that they must use?
It's also one of the reasons that socioeconomic factors have a larger impact than teacher quality.

Re:Not just florida... (2)

Yaotzin (827566) | about 2 years ago | (#39705501)

The initial salary for teachers in US is actually higher than for teachers in Finland and Japan (source: OECD, Education at a Glance, 2011).

Re:Not just florida... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705503)

> First, hold teachers accountable.

You sound anti-union. If you hold teacher accountable then the bad ones will get fired. That is morally wrong. That is the type of competitive system Repukians are trying to jam down our throats in this country.

Re:Not just florida... (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | about 2 years ago | (#39705523)

Why stop at the teachers? Are administrators helpless dolts trapped in their offices by the teacher's union?

You know, there is management in schools, however, it is much easier to ALWAYS blame the teacher. If we were talking about IT here, we have endless stories of managers screwing up large projects and budgets, why should school administrators be left off the hook?

Re:Not just florida... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705541)

having the tenured gym teacher teach algebra because he can use a calculator must stop.

If there's something wrong with that, then it means the education departments are screwed up.
Point 1: We're talking about algebra here, not higher mathematics. Anyone who has graduated from high school is required to know this material.
Point 2: The teacher has been graduated, qualified, and certified as a teacher.

So he officially knows algebra (having graduated), and he officially can teach.
So why can't he teach algebra?

Re:Not just florida... (2)

Amouth (879122) | about 2 years ago | (#39705433)

I still remember having an elementary text book wrong, and the teach teaching too it.. it has a typeo saying the Statue of Liberty was made of bronze.. When i pointed it out after the teacher read it.. she paused and then just moved on ignoring me.. what can you do right? i believe i was ~6-7 years old at the time, but i knew i was right so i crossed it out and corrected it in my book so the next kid would get it right.

Re:Not just florida... (4, Funny)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 2 years ago | (#39705673)

IT's time we get real teachers in there and fire all the administration that makes retard decisions to have the Phys Ed teacher, to hold the algebra classes because he knows how to use a calculator.

Obviously, the Phys Ed teacher is better suited to teaching Physics, what with being a professional Physician.

Florida is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705281)

absolutely correct! after moving here, it's quite apparent that this is a state filled with kiddiewinks with no education, no work ethic, and a propensity to slack

Lately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705309)

It seems Slashdot confuses "News for geeks" and "News for atheists and school teachers to rage at"

The science of test design (5, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#39705365)

They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong.

Some of the problematic questions given as examples are close to techno-babble -- ie, the more you know about the topic, the less sense it makes. I'd venture a guess that the FCAT likely has not been through any sort of rigorous analysis of its test design (let alone the question of test content).

Even without knowing anything about the content, you can learn a lot about a measurement instrument's internal validity by doing analysis on the students' results. One particular technique that would be applicable in this case -- upon examining the particular students that got a disputed question wrong (or right) , was it the highest-performing students that tended to get it wrong, or the lowest? (This type of analysis assumes that the test is valid overall, with occasionally invalid questions).

Re:The science of test design (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705613)

They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong.

Some of the problematic questions given as examples are close to techno-babble -- ie, the more you know about the topic, the less sense it makes. I'd venture a guess that the FCAT likely has not been through any sort of rigorous analysis of its test design (let alone the question of test content).

Even without knowing anything about the content, you can learn a lot about a measurement instrument's internal validity by doing analysis on the students' results. One particular technique that would be applicable in this case -- upon examining the particular students that got a disputed question wrong (or right) , was it the highest-performing students that tended to get it wrong, or the lowest? (This type of analysis assumes that the test is valid overall, with occasionally invalid questions).

What's really stupid is - I'm fairly sure - that FCAT is not even written by people in their field. Scientists don't write the Science test, Mathematicians don't write the Math test, ect. Instead a board of people in a place called the Test Development Center in Tallahassee write it.

Re:The science of test design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705633)

And how do you define who are the "highest performing students" in the first place? Isn't that what the test is for? Are the "highest performing students" the ones that gave the "correctly wrong" answers in previous tests?

Re:The science of test design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705651)

Upvote.

Also: the smarter students probably know how to choose the answer the test wants when they see more than one valid answer.

In the case listed in TFA, it's pretty obvious which one would be counted as correct. And it's probably even more obvious to the students, because they probably watched a film about counting bees that visit a flower.

This is why I hated school (3, Interesting)

jdbannon (1620995) | about 2 years ago | (#39705373)

This sort of thing was the start of my disaffection with school in about the first grade. Up to this point I was really excited to come and learn, and then we got a math workbook that had a tremendous error rate in the answer key. I pointed some of these out to my teacher and she actually went back to check the answer key again to tell me I was wrong. I don't think it would have been possible to design a better way to show me that:
  1. The teacher didn't care.
  2. The system (IE the textbook writers) didn't care.
  3. The teacher was so caught up in the system that she depended on an answer key for checking rather than performing the simple addition herself and seeing what was obvious.
  4. School was irrelevant. Even in elementary the teachers were dumber than the students, and grades didn't necessarily correlate with anything important in reality.

i always hated the fcat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705407)

The practice week would come and the teachers would go "Fcat practice time, we are going to go over how to properly bubble in your answers! And this is the only way to solve this, and the only way to interpret this story." They don't tell you why or how, IT JUST FUCKING IS! Why? Because the better the score for the school the more money for the teachers. So rather than teach how to learn and understand, here are the facts and use them.
Glad i am out of public schools, but then again college is not all the great either, i am still doing English, Math, History, Science and nothing i want to learn. What about all the stuff about college i was promised? Learn what i want to learn, work on projects the broaden my knowledge, i took 13 years of school (if you count kindergarten) 13 years of Math History Science and English, why do i have to take 2 more in a place where i am supposed to choose what i want to learn!

The entire school system does not work with today's modern world and needs a complete revamp.

"Choose the best answer" (3, Informative)

shoppa (464619) | about 2 years ago | (#39705409)

Oh man, everyone's turning a multiple-guess test, into an essay question.

When there are multiple answers that could be correct, the job of the test-taker is to choose the "best" answer. Almost invariably "best" is "the one that the test writer was thinking of". Clearly you have to put yourself in the head of a high school or middle school or grade school teacher to understand "best" in that context, and someone with a PhD or even just graduate coursework in the subject is going to be at a disadvantage.

Re:"Choose the best answer" (1)

Flavio (12072) | about 2 years ago | (#39705667)

To understand many policies related to education, you have to think like a lawyer. A huge number of decisions don't take under consideration what's best for the students or society, but what reduces their liability.

Many questions are poorly designed, since they're the work of mediocre professionals. The bureaucrats know and expect this. Thus, they require the test-taker to choose the "best" answer (often a subjective concept), thus relieving themselves from having to cancel questions or admit the existence of flaws in exams.

Not exclusive to 5th Graders. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#39705515)

I have encountered similar situations in my University exams.

The most annoying thing in the word is having to take time out of a already harried exam to figure out if you should just put down the answer that you think that they want you to put, or if you should put the correct answer (and then sometimes you are just stuck in the situation of simply not having enough time/space to write down why the question is critically flawed and you cannot answer it).

And absolutely no one is surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705529)

Standardized tests have always been rife with these kind of errors. In a way its good. You learn that in the real world you have to give the answer people want to hear and not the right answer.

Reall problem is much more serious. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705551)

It's true that what we teach students is a simplified version of well, everything. It's useful tool when used properly because you can pass on big ideas without bogging down on details.

What you're supposed to learn later, in higher education, is that everything you learned all the way up through highschool besides the very basics is pretty much crap. All but the very basics are massive oversimplifications that have pretty much no use in actual application. Higher education is where you learn what you need to be anything more than semi-skilled labor. .. The problem is that a whole lot of students graduate without knowing it.. It leaves them lacking a lot of the tools needed to make informed decisions.

Excuses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705609)

The problem I have is not that there are errors in the test. The problem occurs when errors are pointed out and defended to the death with whatever specious nonsense can be dreamed up at the moment.

Why piss away public trust and your own integrity with these rediculous games? Admit you fucked up and move on or better yet just resign. Parents and students deserve better.

Massive STEM fail (3, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#39705617)

Naturally, when your state can't handle simple math, the science, technology, and engineering will end up failing as well. It's a good thing that Florida does so well at ... wait, what was it that Florida did well?

Why change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705697)

We exist in a system with no real competition for anyone at the top. These systems will not change until you take the power from these people. But so far we see that people are happy to keep eating shit, buying shit and voting for shit again and again.

You get what you deserve.
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