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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