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Subject:

Re: Websites for Reading, Writing, Math skills

From:

Susan Andrien <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 23 Jan 2008 17:44:58 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (175 lines)

Thanks, Bob.  Actually, I was being a little sarcastic in saying the corporate programs are effective, in light of past scandals involving companies' use of "preparatory" materials that would actually be on the tests themselves.   That's cornering the market for you--no wonder Neil Bush has gotten in on the con. 
 It's nice to hear that someone else is outraged by the shell game.

Here is a story that occurred at my college this year.  Community college students without a diploma or GED can qualify for federal financial aid only if they pass an "Ability to Benefit" (ATB) test.  Students may take the test four times, after which, if they have not passed, they are deemed ineligible for FFA for life.  A colleague who administers those tests called the testing company and asked whether a student who has failed the test twice can possibly succeed on the third or fourth try.  The company rep replied, "Not unless they cheat."

Greatly concerned for the two students who were coming in for their third try later that week, my colleague took time with each of the students.  She told them, "Look, you got 13 correct answers last time.  You only need two more to pass.  Can you think how you might have answered some of the questions differently?"  She talked with the students so that they were relaxed and told them, "I know you can do it."  Of course, both students passed on the third try and as a result are now college students.   
This wonderful colleague continued in this vein all semester.   Eventually she received a call from the testing company asking if she was aware that she could be criminally prosecuted for helping students to cheat.  Since this woman is honest to the core, she asked, "Are you accusing me of cheating?" and the company rep replied, "Oh no, I just wanted you to know that your pass rate is too high."
I swear I did not make this up.

Best,
Susan
-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Hackworth
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 9:31 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Websites for Reading, Writing, Math skills

I strongly agree with the last portion of this message. (The ethical
implications of this kind of shell game are probably less important than
helping students to succeed, but for heaven's sake keep it in mind next time
you vote.)

The Florida CLAST is an excellent example of the failure of large-scale
testing programs to improve education.  Originally (1985) the intent was to
test every college student in the State and raise the test standards over
time.  The results were so bad that the test is now (2008) required of a
small and shrinking portion of the school population and the standards were
never raised because of the disastrous effects it would have on a large
number of students.  The history of CLAST is an excellent example to provide
politicians who claim such testing is a necessary or desirable factor in
education reform.

My own experience with the preparatory materials provided by testing
organizations is the opposite of Susans.  I have found them lacking in
presentation, quality, and depth.  A teacher may understand them, but
students have great difficulty with the jargon (often one of the objectives
of the reading/writing materials).  Community college students do not fare
well with them.  I've been involved with CLAST, THEA, PPST, and GKT so my
experience is not limited. I, too, have worried with the ethical
implications of helping students succeed on these tests just so they can
stay in school and have a chance to really learn.

Bob

> From: Susan Andrien <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 10:13:39 -0800
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Websites for Reading, Writing, Math skills
> 
> This brings up an excellent point.  The most effective strategy for
> high-stakes large-scale tests is generally to use the preparatory materials
> prepared by the same corporation, since simply improving one's skills does not
> necessarily improve one's score.  The ethical implications of this kind of
> shell game are probably less important than helping students to succeed, but
> for heaven's sake keep it in mind next time you vote.
> Peace out,
> Susan
> 
> 
> 
> From: Maher, Pat
> Sent: Mon 1/21/2008 8:17 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Websites for Reading, Writing, Math skills
> 
> 
> Also look up the CLAST - another Florida test of college skills - there is a
> similar model in Texas - tests are quite similar bu not quite the same.
> 
> In Florida preparation/tutorial materials were developed by the state that are
> reproduce-able; we use these materials extensively in our program helping
> students prepare for or in tutoring for the re-take of the various sections.
> I don't have the specific reference right now but if you send me an individual
> email I will supply that when I am back in my office.
> 
> 
> 
> Pat
> 
> Patricia A. Maher, Ph. D.
> Director, Student Learning Services
> University of South Florida, Tampa
> SVC 2124
> 4202 E. Fowler Ave.
> Tampa, FL  33620
> 813-974-9281
> FAX 813-974-5089
> [log in to unmask]
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals on behalf of Robert
> Hackworth
> Sent: Mon 1/21/2008 10:32 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Websites for Reading, Writing, Math skills
> 
>> 
>> We're gathering resources to help education students prepare to take the
>> California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBESTŪ), which was developed to
>> facilitate credentialing and employment of teachers. That exam tests
>> Reading skills (in comprehension and critical analysis), Writing skills,
>> and Math skills. Are there good websites (or software) that you can
>> recommend to help our students work on their own to develop these skills?
>> 
>> Lawrence Gilius, MA, MBA
>> Coordinator, Learning Assistance Center
>> Mt. Hood Community College
>> 26000 SE Stark St.
>> Gresham, OR 97030
>> (503) 491-7507
>> [log in to unmask]
> 
> You will find online material for GKT (General Knowledge Test) at:
> 
> http://www.hhpublishing.com/
> 
> The GKT is used in Florida for essentially the same purpose you describe.
> 
> If you need other info call Priscilla at 1(800) 366-4079.
> 
> Bob
> 
> 
>> 
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