Friday, September 18, 2009

AYP: Down the Rabbit Hole Edition

Dateline: Pennsylvania

The Keystone State will be giving its Special Education students a different standardized test starting in 2010. As this story inelegantly puts it, this is being done because "Special Education students generally perform below their biological grade level, officials said."

First time I've seen the word "biological" used in this manner. Not quite sure that word works, but then again "chronological" doesn't have much of a useful ring to it either.

Anyway, the Alice in Wonderland aspect of the plan isn't biological but, as per normal with all things AYP, statistical. It is this (sorry, long quote ahead...blogger emphasis in bold):

Once the modified PSSA tests are used beginning in 2010, there will be no limit on the number of special education students who can take the exams in each school. However, only 2 percent of the satisfactory scores from the modified tests will count toward the school's proficiency rating when AYP status is being determined, state education officials said.

The remaining results, regardless of how well the special education students performed, will be factored in with the scores of mainstream students who scored in the below basic range, officials said. Below basic suggests a student is performing below his or her grade level.

Given the limitations on how results from the modified exam will be used, local educators wonder if the changes will really make a difference.

"At this point, it's more of a gesture than a solution," Council Rock Superintendent Mark Klein said. "I don't know if it goes far enough and takes into consideration the significant difficulties the special education students face."

So to recap: Pennsylvania Special Ed kids will take an easier test more realistically designed for their identified abilities, but 98% of the Special Ed. kids who get this test will be marked as failing for AYP purposes the second these students receive the easier/shorter/more appropriate test.

And you know you're truly in a Through A Looking Glass situation with White Rabbits and Cheshire Cats when you read the paragraphs above and think...."hey, that kinda makes sense".

Hey, that Pennsylvania solution kinda makes sense.

It makes sense to give Special Education students a more appropriate test, even if you have to count them all as "failing" for even taking the damn thing, because the whole standardized testing thing is itself a surrealistic sham. It's full of Fish-Footman and Frog-Footman, tea parties and Mad Hatters.

What's one more tab of nonsensical acid in a giant punchbowl of spiked insanity?

Or something like that.

Meanwhile, speaking of Theatre of the Absurd, I'll close with reference to another Pennsylvania school situation. A school district is trying to close down a charter school. Lawyers for both the district and the charter are using AYP results as argumentation. Think of the possibilities:

Vast Amount of Statistical Interpretation Possibilities + Attorneys = Endless Costly Fun For the Whole Taxpaying Family!

And speaking of family fun, have a good weekend everybody. Remember, avoid the giant punchbowl of spiked insanity. Especially the brown punch. Avoid the brown punch. In fact, it's probably best to always avoid brown punch, now that I think about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vast Amount of Statistical Interpretation Possibilities + Attorneys = Endless Costly Fun For the Whole Taxpaying Family!

You again hit the nail on the head! Giving education dollars to business is really the goal of NCLB!