Avant Newsletter - February 2018
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by David Bong
Why do we test our students? Because my district, state, etc. requires it? Or because we want to learn more about our students' skills, and use that information to improve learning outcomes?
Carl Falsgraf, the Director at the University of Oregon Center for Applied Second Language Studies created STAMP almost twenty years ago with the objective of improving language learners' proficiency by measuring their real-world skills against the national proficiency scale. With that STAMP data, teachers, administrators, and learners would have the data necessary to identify areas that needed improvement on an individual, and more significantly, on a program level.
At Avant we strive to maintain and expand on Carl's vision. In this month's lead article, Carl interviews Kyle Ennis, Avant's VP of Education and Assessment about the data from Avant STAMP and how it can improve learning outcomes.
In December Carl wrote about some surprising insights that we gleaned from the analysis of our 2016-2017 National STAMP data report.
To find out what the But is, read the article and the National STAMP data report here:
As always, we thank you for the work you do to improve proficiency, and welcome your questions and feedback.
It seems everybody hates tests these days.
Only 14% of parents support that standardized testing is very important in evaluating schools, making it slightly less popular than used car salesmen and the U.S. Congress, but two points more popular than North Korea. The testing community thanks you, Kim Jong Un!
In his “15 Reasons Standardized Tests Are Worthless,” Thomas Armstrong claims that standardized tests reduce the richness of human experience, entice children to cheat, and (interestingly) that Albert Einstein never created a standardized test.
Not to be outdone, the Washington Post published “34 Problems with Standardized Tests,” stating that they encourage bribery, violate core American values, and “waste the vast creative potential of human variability.”
Who could possibly support such a scourge on America’s children and values?
We need to get close and sit quietly to discover its secrets. And we must be good listeners. If we show up with a headful of opinions and assumptions, we might miss subtle truths and glorious surprises.
As a service to the field, Avant has released its annual report on STAMP test results from 2016-17. The proficiency ratings in this report represent the best national snapshot we have of student performance. Some of these stories are familiar, but others have surprise endings. Let’s start with two common beliefs about language learning and see what the STAMP data can tell us.