Theater Masks

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Follow-up to my PARCC post

Well, I have to say, I'm pretty surprised by how that last post blew up. I think more people read that than any other post I've had on here. I think that speaks to just how frightning a thing this PARCC testing is going to be.  A couple of other minor points I wanted to make that I didn't in that intial post:

1) In the LA section, I forgot to mention that the kids are facing double jeopardy questions. If they get the vocabulary question wrong, the next question becomes almost impossible to answer correctly.
2) The answers given on the LA test are VERY close together to each other in meaning. On one question,  I'm not at all sure what they're going for in the second question, and I know for a fact that if you get the first one wrong, the best you've got is a 25% at getting the second one right.

3) I've talked to numerous teachers over the past few days about what we experienced on Monday. I've heard words like "scary" "failure" "upset" "impossible" and "ridiculous" tossed about. What haven't I heard? Any sense of confidence in our kids doing well on this test. One colleague said she estimates that our failure rate will be around 80%.  I think she might be generous.

4) I fear that the vocabulary is simply too difficult for my kids. Yes, the kids can use context clues, but we all know that even then it isn't always to figure out what a word means. I haven't come to a final decision on my thoughts on this yet, and relatively speaking I know it's picky, but it's still a potential problem.

5) On the math section, aside from the problems inherent in taking a computer test, we noticed another failing of the test.  Despite common core insistence on showing work in math, the test doesn't allow the kids to show their work!  So, four digit by four digit multiplication - one little mistake, and the whole problem is wrong.  (Not to mention, really, EVERYONE has a calculator on them all the time now.  I understand the importance of basic facts without a calculator, but I couldn't tell you the last time I did multiplication like that without one before this practice test).

6) On an indirectly related note, another colleague realized that with the test given to half a grade level at a time (due to shortage of computers) and each kid needing to take the test twice, we will have a minimum of SIX weeks when the kids are testing - which means classes aren't going to be happening.  Not counting the time practicing, look at how much time is lost from real education to take these ridiculous tests!

Nothing has assuaged my fears of what these tests are bringing. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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