\doc\web\99\07\waslnews.txt
To: weissbach@weissbach.com, BriMaloney@aol.com, ruthe@komotv.com
CC: arthurhu@halcyon.com, Tips@komonews4.com, news@king5.com,
kironews7@kiro-tv.com, doug.margeson@eastsidejournal.com,
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Subject: Blowing cover on the "secret" WASL test
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Status:
More information. According to the 1997 sample booklet, "these
questions, unlike the actual questions which are secured materials,
may be reproduced".
Clearly, a serious error has been made by including a sample question
on the actual test. It clearly shows that making the test "secret"
really only makes it easy for the CSL to get away with serious errors
with no one noticing.
I hold Terry Bergson personally responsible for this error, and for
believing the incompetent "experts" who claim that 4th graders can
solve a sorting problem that isn't even taught in college computer
science courses. This is what happens when we let people run the
tests who aren't even literate enough to pass their own 4th grade
tests, or be able to compare tests against their own benchmarks
without relying on committees or experts. You shouldn't have to be a
99th percentile MIT grad to figure this out. Indeed, this kind of
stuff is what "every public official" should "know and be able to
do". This sort of incompetence should be a firing offence, especially
when it is inflicted on 24,000 of our children who will be declared
"not proficient" by this insane test and the entire misguided
"reform" movement.
I still don't know why I'm the only citizen out of 5 million
residents who realizes the problem with this test and is willing to
tell the OSPI and CSL that there is a problem
-----------------------
Hi, I was given the opportunity to look over the
actual "high security" WASL test. that is being given
to tens of thousands of our students.
I could not take notes, but I saw enough. The real
problem with releasing the test to the public isn't
cheating , it's so that the public can see how ridiculous
this test really is.
I am a citizen and parent who is the leading opposition
candidate for Superintendent
of Public Instruction in 2000 to stop the insane education reform
movement, and restoring high traditional standards that nearly all
students can at least pass, but only the few are the best.
Turns out it has some questions from the original
sample booklet, I had posted the solutions to some of
the problems at
http://www.leconsulting.com/arthurhu/index/washtest.htm
(main page)
http://www.leconsulting.com/arthurhu/99/04/sampwasl.txt
(sample test)
I have reposted this solution, plus hints to some other
problems on the usenet groups seattle.politics and wash.politics.
along with a $25 challenge to anybody who can produce a
b average 4th grader who can solve the problem. Normally, when
the secrecy of a state test has been compromised by posting
solutions on the internet, it's a huge story. So far, few people have
shown interest in these solutions.
Before I had tried to show everyone that this alleged
4th grade test was actually testing skills listed at the states
own definition of 7th and 10th grade material. By looking
at the actual test, the current 4th grade test is significantly
simpler than the sample test, and probably simpler than the
past 2 tests.
Cognitively speaking, most the 4th grade problems are much
more difficult than the 10th grade problems. Most 10th
grade problems can be solve with at most one or two
simple arithmetic operations. Most 4th grade problems involve
significant thinking and construction. For example one asks
4th graders to explain how to find how many students like what
without asking every student. The answer is a textbook page
explaining how sampling and scaling works at a high school
level, and that's where sampling shows up in the EALRs.
The 7th grade test expects 7th grader to either know or figure
out the formula for the volume of a can, but it's a 10th grade
ealr benchmark, and the 10th grade test has a table which
tells you the formula v=pi*r^2*h. Similarly, there is a sample
4th grade question which requires that the student convert
from in to feet, this is specified as grade 7, and the 7th grade
problem tells you there are 12 inches in a foot.
I'd be willing to go on air and "spill the beans" on this allegedly
high security test. It's highly unfair to use sample problems that
some parents and teachers have drilled their kids on, especially
when I've posted solutions to most of these problems.
It's also amazing that no one has noticed that the indirect
sorting problem that appears on the 4th grade problem goes
significantly beyond any sorting algorithm taught in computer
science classes, certainly beyond what any 4th grade math
lesson teaches. For most students and adults, they will not
be able to do this even after being shown the method of
solution. This is the reason that 80% of normal students,
95% of minority students and even 30% of the best schools
"failed" to meet the "standard".
The public also has to know that the "standard" is not set
until AFTER the test is given and scored, and the scoring
"rubric" is not created until the test is given and all responses
reviewed. At no point in time does the "standard setting"
committee have the opportunity to find that a problem is not
compliant with grade level to start with.
The public must also know that no state, city, school or even
small test group of average students has EVER been shown
to meet the state goal of 80% passing. Every state with
similar tests, and the national NAEP test show similarly
high failure rates.
Daytime phone 425-487-8034 eve 425-814-2183
Other people who can speak to reform issue
Marda Kirkwood CURE: 253-631-1163 (education opposition activist)
(Kentucky testing expert)
gkcunn01@ulkyvm.louisville.edu
He's happy to take calls too at home at 502 452-9764.
2114 Lakeside Drive
Loiusville Kentucky 40205
you can see the posting on www.dejanews.com seattle.politics:
SAY NO TO HIGHER STANDARDS
DEMAND HIGH TRADITIONAL STANDARDS
It's testing time again. The WASL will be given to tens of thousands of
our
students next week. It will be used as the measuring stick of
proficiency.
If they don't pass the WASL, they will not get their "Certificate of
Mastery". Anyone who does not have a CIM, ideally, will not be able to
get
a job or continue their education. Any fourth grader who is not
"proficient"
ideally should be held back until they can demonstrate what all students
are "expected to know and be able to do" if education reform gets it
way.
Reformers are in charge of the "standards", not you.
The first year 4th and 7th grade results were that 80% of students
failed (fell below "meeting the standard") The MEDIAN where 50% fell
below was a "1" meaning demonstrates essentially NO knowledge. 95% of
blacks and Hispanics fell below the "standard" that proclaims that
"all students can succeed". A majority of minorities demonstrated
"little or no knowledge". All other standardized tests put WA students
equal or above national average, and in the top 20% of international
nations in grade 4.
The test
is designed so that even a student who demonstrates 99th percentile
proficiency on a traditional test of addition, subtraction,
muliplication,
addition with decimals, fractions, and very simple statistics can fail
the new test. The math EALRS do not require memorizing the
multiplication
at any grade. They DO require exposure to women and minority
mathematicians.
The Rand Corporation studied similar tests in the Kentucky KIRIS and
concluded that gains such as last years WASL where EVERY high school
in the state showed a 50% gain in students passing the standard is due
to a built in inflation effect caused by easier questions and teachers
teaching previous years questions which were repeated the next year.
No state, city, or even small test group has demonstrated the goal of
80% passing with any representative cross section of students on any
of these performance -based tests. Only 2%
of high schools passed Virgia's goal of 70% passing. NONE of WA state
schools, not even the top 1% met Washington's goal of 80% passing which
Terry Bergeson assures us is a realistic goal in only 4 years.
There is zero organized opposition to the WASL, and the press has
refused to print any criticism of it, unlike the Boston Globe which has
printed dozens of experts who claim the MA test is inapproprate for the
grade level. The WASL and 1209-based education reform movement is backed
by democrats, republicans, industry, education unions, school districts,
and just about everyone else who makes a living in the education
industry
or controlling it. Millions of dollars are backing this reform effort. I
have shown these problem to the CSL and OSPI, the response is that as
long
as the "process" has approved these problems, they are appropriate for
the grade level, there is no appeal process. Other states use nearly
identical
methods to establish the "standard".
The "standard" and even correct solutions and scoring guide are not
created until AFTER the first test is given. All 30,000 repsponses are
categorized to create a scoring "rubric" for each problem. After the
tests are scored, a committee is picked to determine the number of
problems that are needed to set the "standard". At no point in this
process
does the standard setting committee have the opportunity to find out
that a problem may not be compliant with the benchmarks themselves. For
example, the sample test includes ratio, proportionality, indirect
measurement area=width x height, independent probability, unit
conversion,
all tasks which are specified at grades 7 or grade 10, these have all
been approved by the standards commmittees. The standard is set with
no knowledge of what percentage actual students got correct. While
standardized tests are carefully calibrated so that only a few miss
the easiest, and only a few get the hardest problems, if a performance
based test results in a 80% flunk rate, it is considered to be a valid
pilot.
If the test does not match content, it is the responsibility of schools
to "re-align" their curriculum to the test. Previously, a test which
tested content which was not taught was considered to have no
"instructional validity".
This test is designed to show improvement from year to year, and from
grade level to grade level as the 7th and 10th grade tests are
progressively easier. Cognitive tasks in the 4th grade test are much
more difficult that simple arithmetic which dominates 10th grade
questions. The scale problem below would stump most CS grads who
interview for microsoft.
Is it possible to stop this movement? Can the ant move a rubber tree
plant? Can a bug stop a truck by splatting on the windshield?? Probably
not, but I'm sure as heck going to try.
This is a repost taken from the sample booklet anyone can get from the
Commission on Student Learning in Olympia, with my solution. Sample
problem may be used on future tests.
CONTEST RULES
1. $25 to first 4th grader with equivalent of B or worse math grade
average who hand writes a correct solution to the scale problem and
sends it to me. Students with "A" or top math grades are NOT
elibible. A random drawing if they arrive the same day, contact
me by email and mail or fax solution to me. Solution must be with
no assistance by parent. My contention is that NO average 4th grader
is capable of solving this problem.
2. $25 to first person who codes a program in C, Visual Basic or Java
or any other language that can solve this general balance problem. No
age or ability limit.
eve phone 425-814-2183
day phone 425-487-8034
Arthur Hu
ARE YOU UP TO THE CHALLENGE?
Now the review problems...
WASL 4TH GRADE SORTING PROBLEMS FROM HELL
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How many of your 4th graders can solve this sorting problem? Do you want
your
4th grader held back because he doesn't meet the "standard" of what "he
should know and be able to do"? Do you want your kid's diploma denied
because
you couldn't pass an equally hard 10th grade test? This is exactly what
states like Texas and New York are threatening to do, we could be next.
Can you solve it? How long did it take? Is this the sort of problem you
want
on a test where you have to finish 30 other problems in one day? Do you
want
your kids wasting an entire week trying to solve problems like this when
a
standardized test only takes a couple of hours on one day, and costs
only $2
not $40 to score?
See the math benchmarks for Washington State's EALR
at http://cisl.ospi.wednet.edu/ComSL/MATHBMK.html
BTW, Terry Bergeson claims somebody HAS done a 2nd review of problems
and
pronounce them fully compliant and reasonable within the goal of 80%
passing
once
everybody starts teaching to the new EALRs. Do YOU agree?
Sorting problems:
problem 17 page 70 "Scales and Blocks" (sorting)
The pictures below show the results when some
boxes are placed on a balance:
1----
T
J
2----
L
X
3----
R
W
4----
J
W
5----
R
L
6----
X
T
7----
T
W
---
Name two boxes that are heavier than Box X.
Write the number of the picture or pictures
you used to find each of your answers
_______________________________
Tell whether box R is lighter or heavier than
Box X. Write the number of the picture or
pictures you used to find your answer
_________________________________
List the 6 boxes in order from heaviest to
lightest:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Comment - there is nothing in the benchmarks that specifies being
able to sort 6 boxes based on 7 inequalities, except "problem
solving". There are likely no textbooks that give a solution to this
problem. Most adults can't do this problem, I doubt more than a few
percent of 4th graders can do this, even after being shown a solution
algorithm. This problem is not even appropriate for most 12th graders
unless that have taken an algorithms course that includes format
sorting algorithms.
4th Benchmark: identify, compare, and order whole numbers and simple
fractions. Nowhere is sorting of a list of numbers or items
mentioned, even at grades 7 or 10
This problem is not just ordering two numbers, it is sorting a list
of unknown values, and asking for a solution as to their order. A
benchmark to match this problem would be to "sort a list of six items
given 7 inequalities between different pairs of items".
Grade level appropriate problem
Block A 100 lb
Block B 75 lb
Block C 200 lb
Block D 115 lb
Arrange these blocks in order of increasing weight.
Appropriate Grade level benchmark: "Sort a list of 4 3 digit
integers".
One Solution, based on insertion sorting algorithm
1. T, J. 6 shows T is heavier than X, 1
shows J is heavier than T, which is also
heavier than X.
2. based on following sort order, R is
lighter than X
3. from heavy to light: W J T X L R
reverse this result: RLXTJW
Letters to sort
JTLWRX-6 blocks total
# is sorting list
* write heavier from left to right
* add a letter to left or right if it is definitely
to the left or right of what we already have.
* try out each letter in sequence
* stop when we have all 6 letters
Look for J
TJ
sequence #TJ
JW, put W at right end
sequence #TJW
done J!T!LW!RX
Look for T
XT put X at left end
sequence #XTJW
done J!T!LW!RX!
Look for W
RW?
R would be in the middle, wait
Look for R
RW
RL
Still in the middle
Look for L, lighter than lightest
LX
Put L at left
sequence #LXTJW
done J!T!L!W!RX!
Next L
RL
Put R at left again
sequence #RLXTJW
done J!T!L!W!R!X!
All letters complete, stop
Problem 35 p.90
In 1991, the five states below had the greatest
number of people visit their state parks and recreation
areas. The states are listed in alphabetical order
Visitors (in thousands)
------------------------
California 70,444
New York 60,744
Ohio 67,222
Oregon 39,479
Washington 46,813
How does washington rank in terms of total number of
visitors?
A. third largest
B. fourth largest
C. fifth largest
Solution
1. Count how many states are greater (3), then add one for
washington's position, answer is fourth.
2. Sort the list, find washington on the list (4 from top) This
involves rewriting the list, or writing numbers beside each line
without getting confused. Note that sorting a list is NOT a 4th grade
required skill.
This problem can figured out by many fourth graders, but it is still
much more complex than simply "ordering whole numbers". The answer is
not directly taught, but must be "figured out", which means that you
cannot expect all children to master this problem unless they are
either "smart" or have been coached on these particular kinds of
problems. Whenever you test for the ability to solve a problem for
which there is no known or taught solution, you are testing for
cognitive ability, or IQ, which cannot be taught or assessed
directly, and the advantage goes to kids with highest IQ and
out-of-school resources and exposure.
---------------------------------------------------------
Final comment - please note that any compliant question should be
simple to answer by any adult with a 6th grade education. That is NOT
true of the current 4th grade test, which would be difficult for any
4th grade teacher, let alone student or parent. This should not be.
Standards should be based on what actual kids and teachers have been
shown to be capable of, not what some consensus committee believes it
should be set to 10 years from now.