Archive for the ‘Criterion Referenced Competency Test’ Tag

What Can I Say That Hasn’t Already Been Said?   2 comments

DISCLAIMER: I tried to avoid writing this because I knew I could go on and on. I suggest you only read this if you have time to read from start to finish! You’ve been warned!

Well, aside from the childhood favorite: ‘I told you so.’ I am no longer a child, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think that exact thought in my head when what I and anyone else with common sense already knew the final report regarding the cheating allegations within the Atlanta Public School System was released. There was, in fact, cheating going on during the previous years’ CRCT administrations. And by ‘cheating’ I do not mean students looking on other students’ test sheets. I mean teachers and administrators erased answers in an effort to boost the schools’ and district’s test scores and ensure that both made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Quite honestly, I do not know where to begin with this tomfoolery. On the one hand, you have the students who thought they passed the test on their own merit; I am sure some of them did. But on the other hand, you have teachers and administrators who violated testing protocol to ensure that their school made AYP. (READ: They cheated to make sure they got bonuses and kept their jobs.) Some staff members even resorted to ‘cheating parties,’ where they took answer sheets to the home of an administrator during the weekend to change answers. So now we have not one, but two testing violations: (1) Changing answers on a testing sheet; and (2) removing test documents from the school building without the authority to do so.

I decided against blogging about it (see how long that lasted?) and opted to tweet a few thoughts instead:

It’s possible very likely that everyone involved (meaning teachers and administrators) will lose their licenses and/or face stricter penalties. (The state education officials need a scapegoat.) Kathy Augustine has been  placed on leave as the new superintendent of the DeSoto Independent School District and local media sources are in Maui trying to locate Beverly Hall….and no, this is not a soap opera – I am still in the process of writing my blog. The truly sad part in this entire matter is that no one will address the issues and instances of bullying and intimidation suffered at the hands of administrators, area superintendents and the like. I am sure state officials will find other ways to tighten test security; however, the damage, not completely irreparable, has already been done. Someone needs to do the right, ethical, and difficult thing by addressing school culture and leadership. In this case, lack thereof ethical and moral leadership. But I know that people in authority roles are more interested in making friends/political allies and forging mutually beneficial (monetary) partnerships. As I stated earlier: Officials need a sacrificial lamb. In this case, they got 178 of them.

Now what? Grade inflation scandal? Those of us who have ever served time (pun intended) in a classroom already know that pressure exists to inflate grades to boost passing rates and G.P.A.s. I guess we need to wait another 5-10 years before ‘officials’ catch-on to that one. But I digress….

Parting thought: I dodged a bullet.

Forget allergy season, are your kids (and teachers) ready for testing season?   Leave a comment

Spring brings warm weather, flowers, and Spring Break. If you’re a teacher or school student, you know that spring also signals the beginning of testing season. For elementary and middle school students here in Georgia, that means the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) for high school students.

According to a recent AJC article, this year’s testing season also brings scrutiny and tighter security measures due to the suspicion of testing irregularities surrounding several schools. Schools that had a high number of erasure irregularities, as well as those that did not will see some changes this year. For example, some districts will increase the number of supervisory staff members in schools to watch students as they test. The Atlanta Public School System has received a significant amount of media attention because it had the highest number of schools under investigation, with fifty-eight. I am still upset about the allegations, as the kids’ academic improvements have been called ‘questionable’ and some teachers have been falsely accused of either changing answers or prompting students towards the correct answers. In these cheating scandals, someone has to take the fall.

My 3rd grader will start testing next week. We already have a reasonable bedtime schedule and I make sure they eat breakfast each morning. Other than those measures, I do not plan to alter our routine. It is unfortunate that one test will measure an entire year of academic growth, accomplishments, and excellent teaching.

School districts, it’s Spring Break:Do you know where your students are?   9 comments

As I was standing outside talking to my neighbor the other day, I went into ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode. Now I know some of you many not know what that means, so let me explain.

We were discussing our Homeowner’s Association, or lack thereof, when I spotted a boy (probably around 10 or 11) walking through a neighbor’s yard and throwing a ball against the house. Yes, I said throwing a ball against the house. I stopped my conversation with my neighbor and asked (here comes the ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode):

“Excuse me. Do you live there?”

“No,” he replied.

“Then why are you walking through the yard and throwing a ball up against the house?”

“I wasn’t throwing it hard.”

After I picked-up my bottom lip, I said: “It doesn’t matter how hard you were throwing it. You don’t throw a ball against anyone’s house! And why are you walking through their yard?” I concluded my lecture about respecting the property of others and suggested that they all go do something constructive, like read a book. Couldn’t help it-the teacher in me tends to rear its ugly head every now and then. But I missed something really important that day: The kids really don’t have anything to do out here; here being the burbs without public transportation and an abundance of overpriced recreation and out-of-school programs. These things were expensive a few years ago so imagine the sacrifice now that many more people are either unemployed or underemployed. Let’s fact it: Kids have to be left at home unsupervised because the parents simply cannot take time off or afford one of the afore-mentioned programs.

But this is what gets me: Our kids attend school in the largest district in the state of Georgia, yet the district officials do not see a need to offer some form of programming during the breaks, especially summer. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn. Yeah, I think that’s more likely. After all, many of the surrounding schools are classified as Title I schools so there are extra funds available. What are they doing with those funds? They sure as hell aren’t providing enrichment programs for the kids who qualify. Those services are only available for kids in danger of failing a class or not passing the upcoming Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). You would think that preparing kids for the test would be top priority for district officials. Oh wait….I forgot: They make teachers use instructional time for test-prep. My bad.

Any way, I will continue to work on grant proposals for this FREE summer program for the same kids I lectured a few days ago. Otherwise, they may end up cutting through my yard and throwing a ball against my house.

School districts, it's Spring Break:Do you know where your students are?   9 comments

As I was standing outside talking to my neighbor the other day, I went into ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode. Now I know some of you many not know what that means, so let me explain.

We were discussing our Homeowner’s Association, or lack thereof, when I spotted a boy (probably around 10 or 11) walking through a neighbor’s yard and throwing a ball against the house. Yes, I said throwing a ball against the house. I stopped my conversation with my neighbor and asked (here comes the ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode):

“Excuse me. Do you live there?”

“No,” he replied.

“Then why are you walking through the yard and throwing a ball up against the house?”

“I wasn’t throwing it hard.”

After I picked-up my bottom lip, I said: “It doesn’t matter how hard you were throwing it. You don’t throw a ball against anyone’s house! And why are you walking through their yard?” I concluded my lecture about respecting the property of others and suggested that they all go do something constructive, like read a book. Couldn’t help it-the teacher in me tends to rear its ugly head every now and then. But I missed something really important that day: The kids really don’t have anything to do out here; here being the burbs without public transportation and an abundance of overpriced recreation and out-of-school programs. These things were expensive a few years ago so imagine the sacrifice now that many more people are either unemployed or underemployed. Let’s fact it: Kids have to be left at home unsupervised because the parents simply cannot take time off or afford one of the afore-mentioned programs.

But this is what gets me: Our kids attend school in the largest district in the state of Georgia, yet the district officials do not see a need to offer some form of programming during the breaks, especially summer. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn. Yeah, I think that’s more likely. After all, many of the surrounding schools are classified as Title I schools so there are extra funds available. What are they doing with those funds? They sure as hell aren’t providing enrichment programs for the kids who qualify. Those services are only available for kids in danger of failing a class or not passing the upcoming Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). You would think that preparing kids for the test would be top priority for district officials. Oh wait….I forgot: They make teachers use instructional time for test-prep. My bad.

Any way, I will continue to work on grant proposals for this FREE summer program for the same kids I lectured a few days ago. Otherwise, they may end up cutting through my yard and throwing a ball against my house.