Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So you think my paycheck should be based on the test scores my students get on their MEAP tests. Sure... great idea.

Now you tell me how to make them take it seriously. Sitting watching the class take their tests, I see some of these students, taking it very seriously, trying their best to get every question correct. Next to those serious students though, are the ones who know the score on this doesn't count for them for anything. They play it like a game, trying to see how quickly they can bubble in answers.

I will admit in that in theory, testing students should be a fair indicator of teacher effectiveness. However, like many theories, when put into actual practice, the end result is far from the theoretical assumption.

Michigan tests students in the fall, with that test covering the material that should have been taught the year before. Once those students leave my class, I have lost control of them and their abilities. I am not the one giving them the test, I am not the person who had the opportunity to review them for the test, and I am not the face they say telling them to take the test seriously and try their hardest.

I have no control over much of what the students sitting in front of me are doing on their test either. The one young man just wants to be done so he can finish eating the bag of potato chips he brought in from the cafeteria with him. Another girl just hurried through so she can finish her science homework instead of taking it home tonight. Young man #2 has missed the last 2 weeks of school and looks as if he is about to fall asleep now. Girl #2 keeps trying to distract everyone around her by drawing faces on her test booklet. Young man #2 just farted several loud stinky ones to see who would giggle.

Granted, these students in front of me are special needs kids, with a variety of disabilities and are not expected to score well on the test regardless, for the most part. However, their scores are supposedly a reflection on the teacher who had them in class last year, despite their wide range of disabilities and abilities.

For some students, a little accountability for their own scores, a little more push and expectations from home... those might help their scores be more true indicators of what they were taught and learned last year.

For other students, many of whom sit in this classroom now taking this test, the test is an outrageous attempt to make each child fit an absurd mold of what someone somewhere decided each child could learn. I would like those people to come sit and talk one on one with a couple of these kids, and maybe once they realize that realistically, these kids cannot even carry on a logical conversation with an adult, they might consent that these kids probably don't need to be able to distinquish between a linear and inversely proportion function.

But now.. I must collect answer keys and test booklets, and audio versions of tests, knowing that in reality, maybe 1 of the 10 might have a shot at having guessed well enough to score a proficient on the test.

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