Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Sacrifice to the Testing Gods

Lately, I've been feeling that I haven't been teaching much, because I haven't. It seems like all I ever do is give tests or grade tests.

I decided to calculate exactly how much time we have sacrificed already this school year to the testing gods. While this may vary from teacher to teacher and from school to school, I think the following is a pretty accurate representation of the real cost of testing in New York public schools.

Today is the 36th day of instruction. By the 40th day, this is what I (and many others) will have lost:
  • 1 day for our unit pre-assessment
  • 1 day for writing a baseline essay
  • 3 days to give the MOSL (Measures of Student Learning) exams in ELA, Science, and Social Studies (remember that these days are SOLEY to measure teachers as part of the new evaluation system--while lip service is paid to gathering data from these tests, in reality, they are meant to rank teachers)
  • 1 day pulled from class to grade MOSL tests
  • 1 day for our unit mid-assessment
  • 1 day for a reading assessment in our computer lab
  • 2 days for our unit post assessment
That is TEN days of testing out of a total of forty days so far. 

TWENTY-FIVE percent of instructional time has been sacrificed to assessments so far this year. To be completely fair, if left to my own devices, I would have probably given tests on three of those days: the pre, mid, and post assessments of the unit I am teaching (although frankly, I'm not so big on pre-assessments).

Is it insane that 1 day of 4 so far this school year has been used for testing? Of course it is. But this is the DOE, where testing is the order of the day, and accountability trumps instruction.

And don't forget, teachers will be evaluated based on how much "value" we have added to our students' educations. How much value can we be expected to add when 1/4 of our instructional time has been given over to testing?

Some may say that this is an anomaly due to the start of new school year, but I beg to differ. I documented in this post last April just how much time the average students will lose due to testing and test prep. At that time, I estimated that the average student, in the course of NYC public school career, will lose 72 weeks of instruction.

Now, it's even more.

Will the testing gods ever be satisfied?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one piece of a larger picture. A critical and extremely detailed analysis of Bloomberg/Klein's education policies just went up on Diane Ravitch's blog http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/20/tweed-insider-where-the-bloomberg-administration-went-wrong-on-education/