11/23/2005

Have you been watching my sister's head explode?!

Have you been watching my sister's head explode over the school math curriculum at Casa De Duckfeet? Great....ready to watch MINE explode now? I know that many of you have seen my rants on the School system here, over forced integration..and the lovely testing program known as CATS. For those of you new to the blog...let me give you a quick "CATS" definition - state mandated testing that allows for NCLB progress reports, as well as school rankings in the state, and most importantly..from the teaching and administrating perspective, sets the bonus pool for the teachers and administrators for the year. Other than that...the tests are meaningless..and the kids know it..so therefore...don't give a flying flip (Other than last year when the teachers told the kids "you won't pass if you don't do well on the test" which was a total fibber mcgee).

Well.......the local systems "Parent Connection" quarterly news letter came out and I about had a stroke over not just one article in it...but two! And here we are 12 hours later...and I am still stroking out....come with me on a Journey of "Whaaaaat the Heck?!"..

The headline reads...
New Tests Help Students Prepare for CATS

Parents of students in grades one through ten will receive results from tests that JC** is giving for the first time this year. these tests are called the Predictive Assessment Series, or PAS.

.....Teachers will use results from the tests to focus on learning goals that haven't been met and to help students get ready for the CATS assessments in april....

Students will take PAS tests in the fall, the winter and the spring...PAS tsts consist of multiple-choice questions. Typically it takes a student about 35 to 40 minutes to finish each test, but the tests are not timed.....

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HOKAY....
we have tests that don't matter, to get us ready for tests that determine what our teacher's bonus is going to be this year.....

I have a great idea......lets work on educating the students, and not testing them to death...especially when the tests have literally no bearing on the students educational levels. Even better....the PAS consists of three tests, and the CATS test takes up 8 instructional days...lets just extend the school year by 9 days....and don't test 'em at all..just teach them. OR...if you are going to test 'em like crazy....how bout making the tests actually worth something and actually prove that the kids are learning something other than "how to write a portfolio" which is the largest block of test time. Ya know...you all have been testing like crazy for 8+ years...and the school system's progress is actually moving backwards....

The headline reads....
Are School Rankings Accurate?
Have you seen teh ranknigs of schools in a newspaper or on local television newsbroadcasts? If so, you may be surprised to learn that the K Department of Education does not provide or support rankings of schools or districts based on scores from the CATS Test.

Why doesn't KDE support the rankings? "Because CATS scores are not designed to be rankable" (huh? WHAT?) The basic concept behind CATS is progress - how far a school moves, scorewise, from testing cycle to testing cycle, how close a school is to reaching its unique goal and how close it is to the magic number of 100, or Proficiency"

Okay....correct me if I am wrong here...but "how close a school is to the magic number of 100" is indeed rankable...and that is what the folks in the news are using...plus they comment on the fact that XYZ School last year was at 38% proficiency and this year they are at 56% so there is real progress at this school....The "top ten" lists in our area show only those schools closest to that "magic number"....

Further,...the rankings apply to the NCLB crap...and apply to what groups are allowed to move from one failing school to another (side note....if you are a Caucasian male whose parents make more than 12K per year..you can NOT move out of a failing school....we need you numbers in our school to try to get the bonuses higher!!). So..the federal government uses the same ranking system. Here is the article the way it should have been written.....with the Truth...

Are school rankings accurate?
Thanks for asking that question, to a large degree they are. They are based on a test that only the administrators and the teachers care about (it's bonus time don't you know), and directly reflect the societal makeup of the school that your child attends. Therefore, if your child attends a school in the state where the median income is greater than 40K per annum, for example, those schools in the more wealthy neighborhoods where we haven't yet redistricted the area to bring in folks who live in abject poverty, your child's school will rank highly. Don't worry though..scores will indeed move towards the median of mediocrity in your child's highly ranked school, because we will allow an influx of students in those "abject poverty" areas to transfer out of their failing schools.

If you are lucky enough to be in a school where the poverty rate is largely higher, and we have redistricted your area...great news...the poor ranking your child's school attained will make it easier for the school to show progress. Hey....1 kid doing well will bump up the whole school and the administrators will be very pleased! (You still will have a child attending a NCLB school...but that is okay....that just means more funds for us from the Federal Goverment to spend on administration!).

Therefore, watch your child's school rank carefully. We WILL get to the point where everyone is close to the magic number of 50% proficiency soon....and everyone can feel good about themselves then.

This test ain't no "Iowa Test of Basic Skills"...

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In the words of my west coast sister.......KA----BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM

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