Unfortunately, it is true that using Lucy Calkins' methods can raise test scores, due to the design of the current generation of "authentic assessments" (aka holistic assessment, standards-based assessment, performance assessment). I know several schools (including my own) where test scores rose substantially when they STOPPED doing systematic synthetic phonics and moved to a workshop model instead.I was surprised when I read this ..... somehow I had assumed that, basics being basic, absence of basics would make any test hard to pass.
So to prove the instructivist stuff works you also need to have in place testing that assesses actual skills -- phonemic decoding, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, arithmetic, etc.
It's really not all that unbelievable, if you consider how the testing has changed. Schools used to use norm-referenced measures (like the IOWA, the CTBS, Metropolitan Achievement Test, etc.) which also have definite limitations, but different ones.
Once they replaced those (as many states have done) with "constructed-response" item tests, variously known as performance assessments, holistic assessments, standards-based assessments and so on, a more fuzzy teaching approach also yielded benefits. These open-response items are usually scored on a rubric basis, based on anchor papers or exemplars, according to certain criteria for reasoning, conventions of print, organization, and so forth. These are variously weighted, but specifics like sentence structure, spelling, grammar, paragraph structure etc. generally carry less weight than such things as "providing two details from the selection to support your argument."
The open responses often mimic journal writing -- it is personal in tone, calls for the student to express an opinion, and many elements of what we would call good writing (or correct reading) count for little or even nothing.
The same is true in math. A local very exclusive private school which is famous for its high academic achievement recently switched from traditional math to Everyday Math and saw its test scores soar on these assessments (probably not on norm-referenced measures, but they aren't saying).
Another school where I worked implemented good early reading instruction with a strong decoding base (and not minimizing good literature, either), but saw its scores on the tests go down almost 25%. I think the reason for that is that teaching children to write all this rubbish for the "holistic assessments" is very time consuming, and if you spent your instructional time teaching the basic skills -- which aren't of much value on these tests -- your kids will do poorly.
So yes, you can post [my email], not referring to me of course. You can say -- because I don't think I've mentioned it publicly anywhere -- that I have been involved in the past in field-testing these assessments so have a more complete picture of how they are put together and evaluated, and what they do and do not measure.
Different states have made up their own but they share many similarities.