Friday, January 23, 2009

How Low Can You Go?

When the birds begin to sing, it's a sure harbinger of spring. When the leaves cover the ground like an orange blanket, autumn is on its way. And when the DOE gives an ELA test that's so easy that Shemp could get a 4, you know that the mayor is seeking to pad his resume in preparation for a third term.

I've proctored a lot of ELA exams in my day. Usually there's at least an attempt to ask a few tough questions, but not this year. There was basically no need for inferencing whatsoever, as almost every question could be answered by returning to the text. The questions went something like this:

TEXT: Curly was often sad when Moe turned around without looking and clobbered him with a ladder.

QUESTION: How did Curly feel when Moe bonked him with a ladder?
A. Sad
B. With his toes.
C. Scared of heights
D. Pretty

Now, you might think it's a bad thing for tests to be dumbed down to the point where any carbon based life form could pass them. But no. The chatter around my school today focused on how good this would make us all look. With these new teacher report cards, everyone was feeling pretty optimistic about the future.

Me, I guess I'm the glass half-empty guy. The test can't get any easier next year unless they make it a pop-up book. So what happens when all the great grades we'll earn this year evaporate? How will our report cards look then? Are your kids going to make their AYP in 2010?

Of course, many teachers, like some of those I heard gloating about the test, will be long gone by then. Only the veterans know that the DOE will use the inevitable downturn as a way to poke us in the eyeballs, Moe style. Once the mayor gets his third term all bets are off.


Pissedoffteacher said...

I find it amamzing that no one in the media has picked up on waht a joke these exams are.

Miss Eyre said...

I just blogged about my experience proctoring the 8th grade ELA exam. Not sure what grade you're talking about, maybe 6th? The 6th grade teacher I spoke with had comments similar to yours about the 6th grade exam.

Mr. Talk said...

PO'ed, the exams are confidential until after the grades are released, and by then the media doesn't give a damn.

Miss Eyre, I saw parts of both the 6th and 7th grade tests and they both seemed significantly below grade level to me. The 8th grade teachers I know said the exam was much easier than last year's, although I can't attest to that personally.

If the 8th grade exam was indeed grade appropriate, all I can say is--watch out 8th grade teachers. The 6th and 7th grade teachers will do way better than you, which effectively puts a bullseye on your back.

Chaz said...

Those tests are a joke but be careful I do know of a teacher that was removed from the school when she was observed telling a student how to use the ruler on the math test. Unbelievable but true.

Patrick Sullivan said...

Of course the mayor and his allies, who would never actually send their own kids to public school, will point to the higher scores as proof that mayoral control has been successful and must be maintained.

proofoflife said...

I am in scoring hell right now. I don't want to be there!! I am being forced by principal from hell. Today I wanted to cut my wrist with a pencil. Talk about dummying down. We are being told "come on guys, they are only children, give as many fours as you can"

Mr. Talk said... have to love the high standards set by the Bloom crew.