Thursday, September 11, 2008


I like statistics.

I love playing with data.

I believe that testing can be a good thing.

But, yet again, good in theory comes off as horrible in reality. I’m sitting with students as they take our in-house standardized test. They’re bored.

For the seniors it’s the 10th time they’ve taken it. It being this exact version of the test. Same questions. Same choices. Same order. Don’t write in the booklet, because we need to use it next time sameness.

If the data was useful, maybe it’d be worth it.

You already know it's not.

The math version has as many questions on it about Roman Numerals as questions about variables. We have one evaluate the expression, one single-step solve the equation, two plot the points, nothing about actually graphing lines. The Roman Numerals are ones I’d have to take my best guess on, though my mom could answer them.

But this is what the school board uses to judge the teachers. (Students saw their scores only once last year.) Hopefully we’ll have enough practice with fractions and decimals to “show improvement.” Because this year I’m saying, “You’re in Algebra/Geometry/Algebra II. We don’t have time to go over fractions for a month. You need to be able to use them. They’re in our problems. If you need help, ask!”*

I could teach to the test. It might impress school officials. Or I can keep looking at what we’re supposed to teach (even our vague standards are beyond what we’re testing) and pushing beyond.**

*I am working through some examples on the board. Trying to remind students of rules they never learned. And then enough walk me through it examples where we should do something.
**At least this time we're giving it during homecoming week. So instead of losing two weeks of instruction to whatever, we're only losing one?


Kate said...

They never learned fraction rules? Why? (Granted, mine don't remember them, but at least they look vaguely familiar.)

Your testing situation is truly awful. That's like a malpractice level of testing foolishness.

Sarah Cannon said...

Some learned fraction rules. I'm assuming that most of them had teachers who went over them. But the majority of the school tests at a 3rd or 4th grade level on these tests. (Whatever that means.)

It's not just fractions, and it's not just math. There are plenty of other ideas missing too.

At the moment, I'm frustrated that we're in the third week of school, but I've only met with my classes 7-9 times. Really am trying to be hopeful that having all these interruptions up front will mean not having them later.