Doing More With Less

The Council of the Great City Schools recently released a report analyzing the amount of testing administered across city schools.  According to the report, students spend roughly 20-25 hours per year on a variety of mandated assessments – some federally mandated and some mandated by a particular state of district.  Over a student’s lifetime that adds up to hundreds and hundreds of hours spent testing.

If that strikes you as excessive you’re not alone; and on Saturday the Obama administration argued that standardized testing should take up no more than 2% of class time:

‘‘Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble,’’ President Obama said in a video posted on Facebook. ‘‘So we’re going to work with states, school districts, teachers and parents to make sure that we’re not obsessing about testing.’’

Obama said in “moderation, smart, strategic” tests can help assess the progress of children in schools and help them learn. But he said that parents are concerned that too much time is being spent on testing, and teachers are under too much pressure to prepare students for exams.

The President’s call to reduce the amount of standardized testing reflects the concerns of parents and educators around the country, that students are spending far too much time in high stakes tests.  That being said, it would be far better to do more with the tests we already have rather than testing more.  Assessments linked to developmental scales, like the Lexile Framework for Reading, provide educators a range of possibilities.  Having access to a student’s Lexile measures means being able to not only monitor the student’s reading growth, but being able to differentiate for and target that student in an appropriate way.  As Obama argued, there’s a place for smart, strategic tests, assessments that equip teachers with the information they need to keep students learning.

More Math at Home, Better Performance at School

Few would argue that our society privileges mathematical and the scientific disciplines over the humanities. Yet, well before studies concluded reading to your children will help them learn phonetic and phonemic awareness parents’ have been reading to their children. How many have done algebraic equations or recited times tables as they settle their children down to bed? Simply, we may all agree on the importance of mathematic and scientific skills in the 21st century, but at home thoughtful and concerned parents continue to just promote linguistic and reading skills.

It might be time, though, for parents to begin encouraging their children in math as with literature. A new study by Talia Berkowitz and other faculty at the University of Chicago— featured in Sciencesheds light on how parental math talk can greatly improve a student’s ability. In fact, just putting aside a few times a week for high-quality math discussion can significantly help students learn.

Of course, one of the reason’s reading is something many parents share with their children is many people have access to books. Reading with your kids is something most parents can do. But math is something many people feel less adept at sharing with their children. Fortunately, MetaMetrics has material to assist! Math@Home is a free resource targeted at assisting parents to develop meaningful lessons matched to students’ Quantile scores. It even offers instructional assistance which parallel many math textbooks assigned to students.

Similarly, many parents may be familiar with the “Summer Slide” in reading. This slide affects mathematical skills as well. To keep Math skills fresh and sharp instead of atrophy, MetaMetrics offers the Summer Math Challenge! The Summer Math Challenge is a free opportunity from June to July to help keep students learning instead of losing math skills over break!

First Grade Classrooms Needed for Reading Research

MetaMetrics is seeking participants for an upcoming research project investigating early reading ability.

We at MetaMetrics believe that assessment and instruction should be connected. Providing quality information about a student’s reading ability is a key component of one of MetaMetrics’ mottos: “Bringing Meaning to Measurement.” We continue to explore innovative relationships with the development of literacy through its groundbreaking research agenda.

As such, MetaMetrics is recruiting for our ongoing Early Reader research initiative. We are specifically looking for first grade teachers willing to administer a short set of reading items to their students.  Many of these items include illustrations. The goals of the research include reliably assessing the complex connection between visual illustrations and reading abilities.

For more information, please visit . Each teacher whose classroom participates in the study will receive a $75.00 Barnes and Noble gift card.

We look forward to working with you on this important study.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.