Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Fall, It's Cooler and I Still Don't Have My Damn Test Scores

Today gets us to Day 23 of School Year 2009-2010. Classes have been going on just over a calendar month now. The Autumnal Equinox has come and gone, and the deliciously cooler weather means I'll need another layer on my bike commute this morning.

And I still don't have my damn scores from the standardized tests administered back in March.

We were told the individualized results would be in our ultra-modern web-based database by September 20th. Well, it's September 22nd now, and where the Hell are they?

We are constantly told about how "high-stakes" these tests are, how pivotal they are to school improvement, how their disaggregation is essential to understanding what works and doesn't work with our students.

But that's quite obviously bullshit, because if these tests were really "high stakes" we'd have the results by now. We would have had them months ago, or at least well before the 23rd day of the next school year. We would quite certainly not have a system with an ultra-modern web-based database dependent on what must be two lowly-paid folks data entering thousands of results by hand into a 1983 Commodore 64 computer.

So the next time someone appears at my school to tell my staff how "high stakes" these tests are, I will join the multitudes who roll their eyes and grumble into their coffee. I give up trying to tell any of my colleagues that there is some usefulness to this madness. You've convinced me, District/NM PED: it just doesn't matter.

So I've officially stopped caring one iota about this testing charade. Keep the same unethical system of testing identified "learning disabled" kids with the same test as those not identified as "learning disabled". I don't care. Keep the scores coming over six months late. Hell, don't give them to us at all. Nobody really cares anyway.

Still, I feel such a chump because it's very, very obvious you guys stopped caring quite some time ago. What a sucker I've been. Writing all this crap about AYP this and confidence interval that. Researching the differing testing rules and regulations between the States...what a pointless exercise.

We're really just going through some half-ass motions until this "standardized testing" fad passes, and we all move on to another shiny pedagogical object to waste our inadequate funding and attention upon.

Honestly, I just wish I wasn't the single stupidest teacher out there. The idealistic one who just now woke up on a deliciously cool morning in Fall, both literally and figuratively.

P.S.: I realize two things: 1. 99.999999% of all possible readers to this post don't care about its subject matter, because, A: They aren't teachers; B: They are teachers who already wisely stopped caring about this stuff years ago; 2. The scores might hit our ultra-modern web-based database later this morning, or tomorrow, or the next day. So this post might have a May Fly's lifespan...but still, does getting the scores today, tomorrow or the next day really alter the well-known fact (obvious to all but me for years) that none of this really matters to anybody?


Anonymous said...

From .00000001%:

Yes, Scot, we do care. I've yet to receive my son's test results from last year!

As a parent, I'm not impressed with the district.

Lucky said...

I care. Especially as I had to administer the short-cycle assessment (the no longer A2L) today. . .hard not to feel it's futile.

When a student asked me "Does this count?" I had a hard time not shrugging and saying "Not really."

Anonymous said...

What Lucky said... I have the joy of administrating the DBA (the test formerly known as A2L) soon myself.

All this testing is so very stressful for my nine year old. Please tell me how this benefits her, because I couldn’t.

Anonymous said...

It's time for a parent revolt! Go to the school board, write your state representatives.

Most of the district-level testing is not required by New Mexico Administrative Code or Federal law.

Don't go to the principal or teacher--they are just following orders from the top.

Abuelita2 said...

Yes, parents, please help us teachers! We do have to follow orders. It is SO hard to do to the kids what we are told to do, when we know it's not good for them.

Please, someone, start a serious, concerted parent revolt! First, just FIND OUT what is happening in the schools, what your kids are made to do. Talk to teachers, ask us. So many teachers are feeling SO intimidated by principals, who feel intimidated by APS officials and the PED. We need support from the tax-paying public.

SydTheSkeptic said...

Parents have so much more power when it comes to this crap than they know.

It's taking me TWO days out of my instruction to administer that damned short-cycle assessment, when my class time's been cut in half as it is to make room in the school's schedule for these so-called "intervention" classes...

These high-stake tests can only measure information- basically that just means procedural, out-of-context, disjointed facts that most times do not make their home in long-term memory. They're like viruses to deep conceptual learning; knowledge that can only be demonstrated, discussed, and observed by teachers who know what learning looks like.

THAT is what kids are losing out on. THAT is what upsets me about it.

SydTheSkeptic said...

Great conversation going on between two educational leaders who began on opposite sides of the high-stakes testing issue.

Bridging Differences

jscotkey said...

Syd: Good stuff in that Education Week, exchange.

Speaking of the DBA, which used to be the A2L, for some reason we at our school have to make our own copies of the test, then send it to RDA for scoring, even though it's a "scantron" sort of test (or so I've been told).


Between the SBA and DBA (the acronym usage is sickening, I know) the DBA pisses me off more as it is both wholly unnecessary to receiving federal funding and, more importantly, used to place kids in remedial classes. If I respected the A2L as a assessment tool more than teachers that would be fine, but I don't.

And nothing the District/State does in overseeing DBA/A2L administration adds one smidge of respect. It is largely treated like one of those mandated monthly fire drills where everyone runs out and back into the building on the very last day of the month. Yet the test is used as some sort of holy oracle proclaiming placement. Ugh.

P.S.: And oh yeah, just about zero parents even know about this test. It's academic stealth bombing at its messy, imprecise best.

Jimi said...

As one who used to work for APS and understands the poltical/bureaucratic atmosphere, lest I remind you its 'As APS turns'. Anything about promptness never really comes to fruition. For me I think the real idea is while its great to care about your students and test scores and such there comes a realization like you mentioned that ranting while it may be the truth does nothing. If you really want some insight to this standardized testing thing then might I mention to pick up and read John Taylor Gatto's article 'Against School' To me it was a great article. And...is it just me or is it that most parents in this state really dont give a damn about what their kids learn in school? Seems to me its a national phenomena possibly. As for a revolt I personally dont see it happening. Gatto's article supports what I am saying and what much of you guys are saying.