Say There, Might You Have Any More Data?

Here’s why I ask. I don’t seem to have enough. Even though I haven’t even begun to analyze all the data I have, or even think about whether or not it is useful, I feel compelled to keep collecting more. Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? It’s a little like that. But we do it for the children. It’s not for us or making the school look good. This is for the kids. And making them look good. So that we look good. You feel me?

That was me, in italics, trying to get into the heads of my admin in order to figure out why they asked us to do what they asked us to do today.

It’s testing time…or getting ready for testing time. So everybody is a little on edge. Our scores on state tests tanked last year. Plus, we are, for some completely inscrutable reason, an AP-For-All school. So everybody takes AP English in 11th and 12th grade. It doesn’t matter if you can spell your own name or not. It doesn’t matter of you can tell the difference between a book and a lobster trap. You are in AP. About 3 percent pass the test. This is a story unto itself…just ask the English teachers.

Anyway, today was practice test day. Practice state tests, practice AP tests, and probably others. We have to get ready for the ball! (For the kids.)

So here is the new data that we all need to collect as proctors. It’s an Excel spreadsheet with all the names of all the kids who are testing in my room running down the left-hand column. The top row is things I am to mark with a check mark, or an X, or a cigarette burn, or a blood stain, or a small clump of dead brain cells (it wasn’t made clear) as I observe student behavior during the test. So it’s a grid of students and behaviors. Are you with me?

Here are the behaviors I am supposed to make note of:

1) Marking the text (text attack strategy/working problems out);
2) Perseverance (no head down/no multiple redirection);
3) Finish Line (completed assessment in allotted time);
4) Complete ALL ESSAYS/WRITTEN PORTION (caps original) (thorough answer with evidence from the text and explanation) ;
5) Brought only appropriate materials to testing room;
6) Teacher name and period written on test booklet;
7) Time Test was completed.

Many things about this. I’ll just point out a few.

Number 7: (Time Test was completed) We discussed this in a meeting last week. The administration has discovered that kids who finish a three hour exam in 25 minutes usually do poorly;

Number 4: (Complete ALL ESSAYS/WRITTEN PORTION) (caps original) I think this is because we have a very large number of students who are too lazy to even guess on all of the multiple choice questions. To get everybody to even take a shot at all of the questions that require any amount of writing would be nothing short of stunning;

Number 3: (Perseverance; no heads down) This is the best. A surprisingly upbeat, yet steely-eyed colleague of mine hilariously pointed out that “perseverance” now means simply not falling asleep in the middle of a test. Eye of the tiger!!

I hope this data helps, because the school is on the ropes. You can feel it. Is more data the answer?

I bought Diane Ravitch’s new book over the weekend and started reading it yesterday. I’m only 40 pages in, but I think I am in love all over again.

Here’s what I read on page 16:

What once was the standards movement was replaced by the accountability movement. What once was an effort to improve the quality of education turned into an accounting strategy: Measure, then punish or reward. No education experience was needed to administer such a program. Anyone who loved data could do it. The strategy produced fear and obedience among educators; it often generated higher test scores. But it had nothing to do with education.

I’m smitten.

Here is her website and a blog she writes at Education Week with Deborah Meier.

Mr. Teachbad

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24 Responses to Say There, Might You Have Any More Data?

  1. Miss Crabtree says:

    Yep. The Ravitch book is an easy read and right on the money. She is also a very powerful speaker–saw her last year at NEA RA.

    To some degree, this kind of record keeping would be considered a test administration violation in my state.

  2. gilda says:

    My favorite is the perversion of perseverance-how to take a quality we as teachers try to instill in students:keep at it-don’t give up-look at it another way-try again-ask for help-work it out with a buddy-etc.etc.etc. — and it has been made into a simple
    “no heads down”???? No wonder we’re falling off the edge of the world. Who are these cretins and what have they down with their brains?????????? Oh, right. I forgot. They don’t care. Only the data matter. Must learn the mantra Must learn the mantra
    Must learn the mantra Must learn the mantraMust learn the mantra Must learn the mantraMust learn the mantra Must learn the mantraMust learn the mantra Must learn the mantra

    • I "teach" Music says:

      At our school the perverted word is Rigor. We need more rigor (to challenge the students and help them learn) in the classroom, as well as differentiation and scaffolding and blah blah blah. But rigor always scares me.
      [rig-er] Show IPA
      strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
      the full or extreme severity of laws, rules, etc.
      severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity: the rigor of wartime existence.
      a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.
      scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherence: the logical rigor of mathematics.
      severity of weather or climate or an instance of this: the rigors of winter.
      Pathology . a sudden coldness, as that preceding certain fevers; chill.
      Physiology . a state of rigidity in muscle tissues during which they are unable to respond to stimuli due to the coagulation of muscle protein.
      Obsolete . stiffness or rigidity.

      This is what education has become.

      • Miss Crabtree says:

        Yes, we are told to teach to the rigor of the verbs in the latest batch of performance indicators. In my subject, the verb is usually the word UNDERSTAND–now there’s rigor for you!!!

  3. Tracy says:

    I agree with Miss Crabtree. Total violations. I realize these were practice, but in our memo we are told to actively proctor by walking around for the whole 3 hours. This places eustress, as opposed to distress, on students. All that looking down at students and the check list would cause me to knock into things while walking around and around and around the room.

  4. crazedmummy says:

    Ooh, we are in testing this week. My advice to the kids was fill in one bubble before you put your head down, so they know you were here. Maybe I set my expectations too realistically… Oh, and when we say “five minutes left” just fill in the rest of the bubbles at random ( if you are still awake). I have no advice for the writing test. Perhaps I should tell them “one word is all you need.”
    I reject the notion that the testing of students has had no effect on education. I believe the teachers are now thoroughly educated in what their administrators actually think of them. Incidentally, it’s nothing like a business, where middle management worth their salt understand that they are totally dependent on their workers, and treat them like gold. Don’t take cues from failing businesses.

  5. miss m. says:

    Our admin conceded that things were getting a little tense, people were getting just a little grumpy, from all of that collecting data on how well we were collecting data in between the network going down which made it difficult to collect the data on the $8000.00 a year practice test data collector program that sometimes works but only when the network works, which isn’t working, since all the tech people have to spend all their time installing new testing programs so we’ll have the proper data to prepare for the upcoming tests.
    But I digress.

    The administration perceived that everyone was stressed out, so at the faculty meeting, as a team building activity, we were each given a sheet of paper with the lyrics to “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flats and directed to….hold hands….the entire faculty……in an “unbroken chain,” and to recite the lyrics as they scrolled down the wall on the PowerPoint:
    It’s like a storm
    That cuts a path
    It’s breaks your will
    It feels like that

    You think your lost
    But your not lost on your own
    Your not alone
    I will stand by you
    I will help you through
    When you’ve done all you can do
    If you can’t cope
    I will dry your eyes
    I will fight your fight
    I will hold you tight
    And I wont let go
    We were told to keep these uplifting lyrics, complete with homophone and apostrophe errors, in a prominent place in our classroom, and we were further informed that the administration would be looking to see that we had displayed this morale-booster next to our Bloom’s Taxonomy. And then we were told not to worry about test scores and AYP.
    I’m so confused;
    but I know one thing for sure.
    “It breaks your will.”

    • mrteachbad says:

      The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    • Not a Dog and Pony Show says:

      That was the version they gave you and you had to post it? That’s awesome. I LOVE getting stuff from the school and/or county office with all kinds of typos and grammatical errors. Well, I hope they are typos. Don’t get me started on the morning announcements…

      We (are supposed to) do a Character Word of the Month and at the beginning of every year, we get a colorful poster with the word for each month. My first year, one of the words was misspelled so I told my AP who I guess told the BOE, and a few weeks later, we get new colorful posters. We are a pretty large system and I hate to think about how much resources were wasted on printing and reprinting those stupid posters that hang in the back of our classrooms and nobody uses.

    • gilda says:

      How very awful for you. You have my understanding and my sympathy. If anything makes this awful situation worse, it’s being forcd to do really stupid
      s*** like hold hands and recite out loud–and then just to add insult to good old injury, post that sucker! Ja vohl, mein herr! I am so, so sorry.

      • crazedmummy says:

        We pretend to make out. It shuts things down rather quickly. Nobody wants to see 50-year-old teachers make out.

    • Miss Crabtree says:

      OMG. You have my deepest and heartfelt sympathies. I could not have done it. I am so sorry. I am not kidding. This kind of absurdity has got to stop.

    • itsalltrue70 says:

      miss m, please tell me you’re kidding. Please.

  6. baybohemian says:

    Thank God, I’m unemployed…instead of watching the kids go through the agony of another DCCAS/AP Exam…and taking the blame for their bad scores from the Admins.

  7. Florida schools get money for each student enrolled in AP classes, so enroll everybody! Data? Listen, just make it up. Do you actually think anybody looks at all that crap? My school initiated “Data Chats” a couple of years ago. We had to meet with our administrators to review all the “data” we gathered, which was then turned in to the county, which then sat in storage until it was tossed into the garbage.

  8. Utz, The Crab Chip says:

    AP for all is a direct gaming of the challenge index (formula: #of AP Exams taken/# of seniors = your score. Since all the Juniors and Seniors take a test, your school’s score is >2 i.e. one of the best schools in the country!)

    These are the reasons “education reformers” need to step into some classrooms and get off the test scores = accountability bandwagon. You can be the greatest teacher in the world, spend 150 hours a week individually tailoring lesson plans to every student’s strength and weakness, and get fired because some students got to the test room and said “Essays? I’m not doing that shit” then spend the next 3 hours trying to convince the proctor to let them go to the bathroom.

  9. Dale says:

    Ravitch’s book is a winner….I’d encourage everyone to read it.

    We were told not to “linger behind any student. Someone did that last year and the child told his mother Teacher made him nervous.”

    Morning announcements! I envy you – our Principal does announcements at the end of the day when everything is chaotic and noisy.

  10. Miss Crabtree says:

    It is a wonder that I do not drink heavily. Or keep a bottle in a drawer at school. Thank you Oh Great Bad One for keeping me sane and sober.

  11. Miss Crabtree says:

    Hey, you there,
    You with the tests in your hand
    Thinking results will show you
    What’s still in your command.

    Hey, you there,
    You walking round in a daze,
    Stumbling down the hallway
    Seeking some word of praise.

    More songs to come later this week. Thanks for the challenge, TB.

  12. Diane Ravitch is on the the Daily Show tonight…have you noticed Jon Stewart’s props to teachers lately? I love them both.

  13. Miss Crabtree says:

    Jon’s mother was a teacher. Plus, Jon knows ridiculous when he sees it.

  14. M says:

    I think I want to be your best friend. Seriously, thank you for saying things that so many people are afraid to.

  15. Dsnider says:

    All this bullshit makes me nauseous… Teachbad, get the fuck out of this retarded school district and either find a school that is sensible or leave the field completely… Let the stupid bury the stupid.

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