Move CRCT to the last week of school to boost learning

crcted.0920 (Medium)I could not resist the title of this note in my e-mail: A few suggestions from a new teacher who is older than dirt.

The teacher explained that she has been teaching for four years. At 62, she says she is “probably the oldest living starting teacher.” She earned her  certification at  age 58. I admire her willingness to take the time to draft this position paper on the state CRCTs. Please take a look.

(And to General Assembly education leaders Fran Millar and Brooks Coleman, these are the teachers you ought to put on your committees. We need some radical thinkers rather than the same old corporate representatives on every single blue-ribbon commission put together by the state. New voices and fresh faces, please.)

This teacher wrote her comments in response to a GAE request for teacher questions for its  2 p.m. Town Hall meeting today that I hope to attend and post a summary. The meeting is also supposed to be available on a live webcast. See details on the link.

She writes:

“I love the teaching. I plan to teach until I die or they kill me. I hope that neither happens anytime soon. In any case, I have some (okay, I have a lot) of concerns. There are a few basic changes that I think could be made in the way Georgia measures achievement. As a teacher I understand the pressure to raise test scores. Many people complain about teaching to the “test.” The fact is that you have to test to something, and life itself is a test. However, I disagree with the way the CRCTs are administered. My issues concern the timing of the tests and the transparency of the actual tests.

I received an e-mail about a statewide Town Hall Meeting today. The GAE requested questions for the meeting. I have seen many ideas drop into the black hole of bureaucracies (government and corporate). In other words, I didn’t want to waste my time (again). At 62, my lifespan is not that long. Then I thought of you.  So I am attaching the question that I started with, which turned into more than I planned.

Here are her ideas, which I think have merit. Many teachers and parents agree that little learning occurs in their schools after the CRCT. These ideas will take a major calendar change for all systems, but the concept deserves consideration. Here are the teacher’s thoughts:

It has been my experience that when tests such as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests are given at the end of the year, more learning takes place. When the CRCTs are given in April, valuable time is wasted.  If CRCTs are given the very last week of school, all students effectively gain a month of quality instruction. Over the course of 13 years of schooling, that is essentially over one more year of instruction. Even when a final course test is given, the CRCTs could still be given at the very end of the school year. I realize that “theoretically” we are supposed to be pre-teaching our subjects for the curriculum of the following year. This is not really practical. It also requires expertise of the curriculum at another level.  I also question how often this is actually done.

I have heard the argument that the CRCTs must be given in April so that the tests can be sent to the state for grading. This did not stop the current cheating scandal and will not stop the next cheating scandal.  Perhaps the tests could be administered, graded on site under strict observation (local police, cameras, exchange of administrators from other districts, people who man the booths on Election Day, whatever).  The scores could be sent to the state and registered immediately.  There would be no wait time and any child that needed remediation (summer school) would be informed in a timely manner.

I think that the argument will be made that different school systems have different calendars and giving the CRCTs at the very end of the calendar year would be construed as undue interference by the state.  If there is to be a functioning “race to the top” use simple steps such as the ones that I have proposed to bring all students to that point.  Local school systems could adjust their calendars for the sake of the common good.  If the vast majority of school systems end in May, give the CRCTs the last week in May (or better yet the first week in June).  If a school system does not align its calendar to accommodate the state testing schedule, then they will pay the price when the scores are announced.  I also think that the practice of ending school so early in the year is counterproductive.  It seems that most areas of the country have later start and end times for their calendars.  I have seen many students start attending school later than others because of family vacations that the parents coordinate with family in the other areas of the country. We are no longer an agrarian society that needs to work the family farm.  We may start in late July or early August, but not all students are in the seats from the beginning.   Again, this is indicative of lost instructional time.  From a financial perspective, it is more costly to cool a classroom in June, than it is in August.

I would also like to see the questions and answers of tests published after the test is administered.  This could serve as a guide to ready students for future tests.  If Georgia truly wants to win the “race to the top,” everyone must be on the same page.  This includes being transparent about what is exactly on the test.  Other states do this.  In New York, there is a testing system that leads to a Regents Diploma.  The tests are given after the last day of school.  The tests are half multiple choice and half essay.  They are graded in house.  There still seems to be sufficient time to inform students about the need for remediation.

After the tests are taken, the questions, answers and reasons are published.  Barron publishes a series with complete tests including the answers and reasons. So does the Princeton Review and others.  They don’t just have sample tests, they have actual tests.  If you go to the Barnes and Noble website you can see many of these books available at a very nominal cost for students and teachers alike. Here is a short reference list:

“Barron’s Regents Exams & Answers Chemistry,”  Tarendash & Walsh Kaplan,  Michael Walsh editor.
“Regents : Let’s Review – Biology, the Living Environment,” by G. Scott Hunter.
“Barron’s Regents Exams & Answers Earth Science,” by Denecke, David Berey.

When I was a student in New York (when the world was flat) we used these sources along with other resources. Although there are CRCT study guides available, we never see the actual questions (unless of course I suppose, you are in the habit of changing student answers).  I believe that the state needs to be more transparent with the questions that are on the test (after the fact, of course).  It will improve the level of teaching in the future (especially if the reasons are also included with the answers).  It is imperative that students not only know the answer, they also need to know reasons that one answer is better than another.  This will also make sure that the state Department of Education keeps on its toes.  It will be a review of the validity of the test.  I am amazed that we get scores on students, but we never actually know if the questions and answers are actually valid.  I have seen mistakes on Georgia’s Online Assessment System.  For instance, one question asked about single celled animals.  The bolded area is my explanation of the answer.

A paramecium is a one-celled animal. Which of the following MUST be true about the paramecium?

Its one cell does everything it needs to live.

It can only live inside the cells of other living things.

It is the smallest living thing.

It causes dangerous diseases.

A one celled organism (aka unicellular organism) can carry on all of the functions that it needs to live.  It does not depend upon other cells to perform any functions.  Some other examples of unicellular organisms are an amoeba and a bacterium. HOWEVER, a paramecium is not an animal.  It is actually a protist (from the Protista Kingdom). There is no such thing as a one-celled animal.

I don’t know if this was ever an actual test question, but it may have been.

It is my understanding that Georgia uses the same test (with a few slight variations) for a period of time (possibly five years).  This is not really an adequate system.  It also invites possible cheating.  If someone knows the exact questions that were on the last test and are most likely repeated on the next test, it is very easy to teach to the question (as opposed to the test) and that is an issue that should  be addressed.

It might be worth investigating if it is feasible to contract with another state to use their testing system.  It could be much cheaper than the current system in Georgia.  I believe we should also consider a test that uses a variety of assessments, such as multiple choice, true or false and essay (or at least short answer).  Essay questions are harder to answer and harder to grade but ultimately they are a better measure of knowledge and understanding.

Below are some of the advantages of giving the tests at the very end of the year, making prior tests available to the public,  and updating the tests annually:

-It is actually a “free” way to make sure that students get over one year of additional instructional time over the life of their school career.
-The quality of the tests will improve and the validity will be constantly reviewed
-Teachers will better understand what is expected and it will facilitate a higher level of teaching in the future.
-By reviewing former questions, answers and reasons, students will be better able to understand how to apply their knowledge in various types of test situations.
-It will cut down on cheating by teachers and school systems.
-It will be a perpetual review process by all concerned.
-It is very cost effective.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog.

28 comments Add your comment

atlmom

February 21st, 2011
12:48 pm

Well, we don’t really need testing in the first place. We are pretty darn sure of the good schools. Parents (those that can, I guess) vote with their feet.

Fericita

February 21st, 2011
12:49 pm

Let’s do it! I can see Cobb having some problems with it, though. In order to face budget realities, summer school was canceled and students were remediated in the time between the CRCT and the end of the year. Teachers predicted which students were in danger of failing, since scores were not received that early. The retest was given right before school got out. So, those students did get a whole year of instruction, and I think it was great for them.

As far as making questions and answers available, I can see that being both helpful and misused. I’ve seen too many teachers teach reading entirely through reading passages and answering multiple-choice questions, instead of through reading books. This might encourage that even more. Hopefully, though, teachers would use it to know what what kinds of questions are asked and how to prepare their kids for it. It would, of course, make the test company come up with more questions and answers than they do now. I read the test and the retest questions and answers aloud last year (for students with accommodations) and noticed that about 50% of the questions were the same!

Happy St. Pat's

February 21st, 2011
12:52 pm

Moving the tests to the end of the year is the next best thing to getting rid of them entirely. The next time the legislature cuts funding and local districts lop days off the school year, the test will be gone!
Districts don’t see this as related to learning, but as paperwork, or maybe a game that the districts are forced to play. See, it’s just some dumb game, but we need to win it *for the sake of the children* because if we don’t, our funding will be endangered, and that really will harm learning. *Gaming* the test isn’t even cheating, because it’s not about learning, it’s just some stupid game, brought to you by a legislature that’s hostile to education, who make us waste time and jump through hoops, but won’t honor their constitutional responsibility..

Shar

February 21st, 2011
1:10 pm

In this age of batched tests and scanners doing the grading, I have never understood the rationale for giving the tests in the middle of the spring semester. Even AP and Baccalaureate exams, which require human graders to read essays and listen to spoken foreign language, are given at the beginning of May and results are available in July. If these tests must be given, they should be administered by teachers and administrators who are unconnected with the results (transfer between school districts for the day, or at least randomly within districts) and immediately send the tests to the batching centers. There’s no real reason why the majority cannot be graded within a week.

ScienceTeacher671

February 21st, 2011
1:14 pm

Basically I agree with the teacher who wrote this, except….

If students don’t pass the CRCT the first time, unless there are VERY extenuating circumstances, they don’t need a 3 week “remediation” and they don’t need to be committee promoted. The CRCT is a sub-minimal competency test (students can be working as much as 4 years below grade level and still pass) and the cut scores are entirely too low. If a student is struggling with that, s/he needs more than a couple of weeks of remediation. LOTS more.

It would be nice if students who scored “proficient” really were.

RB

February 21st, 2011
1:16 pm

There is a prevailing, overwhelming fixation on standardized testing in the public school arena these days. For some reason, the media and the government feel that by testing students over and over again we will improve the education system and that the results of these standardized tests somehow measure how schools are performing. This makes as much sense as the farmer, whose pig always gets third place at the County Fair, thinking that if he weighs the pig more often, the pig will get fatter and somehow this more frequent data will give his pig the blue ribbon. To get a prize winning pig the farmer must not concern himself with how many times the pig is weighed but what and how much he is feeding the pig. Putting the pig on the scale and weighing the pig more often will not increase the pig’s weight. Seems simple enough, right? Yet, society (the government) has placed an over-emphasis on the testing of our students and not the learning. The Media and the government believe that testing is the end all to be all of measuring educational improvement. Test scores are such a small part of the complete picture that using them to rate our educational system is ludicrous. Tests are a necessary evil in the public school system, but should only be a small part of what we do as a educational system. Teachers and students growing and learning in the classroom, the lab, or in the gym is what we are about. Students performing on stage, on the ball field, and in classroom discussion are what we are about. class projects, interactive books, writing stories, solving math problems, writing a letter to a soldier in Iraq that is posted on his wall and read before a mission, playing in the orchestra, acting out scenes from Roald Dahl or C.S. Lewis, displaying respectful behavior to one’s peers and adults, and the happy, well-adjusted, inquisitive child at your dinner table recounting, with excitement, the day’s events at school and the cool things learned from his/her teachers…those are the things that measure how well we are doing.

Jackie T.

February 21st, 2011
1:24 pm

You really don’t have to move the testing date if you can interpret the test in context. If the test is given about 3/4 of the way into the school year, then you just don’t worry about 25% of the scores. If students can’t answer the materials they haven’t learned yet, that is not any indication of how good/bad the students/schools are. If sub-scores are given, then we can interpret the results meaningfully by noting which categories have/have not been taught at the time of the exam.

A big part of the problem after the CRCT is because adults in the schools take it too seriously – and try to squeeze everything in before the CRCT. If they can do that, then I agree with students why bother with the rest of the school year. However, if the CRCT is only staking a snapshot at a particular juncture in the school year, then, learning should go on till the end of the school year.

As for releaseing test items, I wish the state does so. But, when there are plenty of HS teachers who would not let their students take the tests/quizzes home, I don’t think teachers have much argument there.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beth Friese, Ramiro Garcia and J∅∀∆N D. MILΣ∫, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Move CRCT to the last week of school to boost learning http://bit.ly/idV1Va [...]

catlady

February 21st, 2011
1:55 pm

There is plenty of evidence that cheating occured. And there is ample evidence to infer that it was not at the individual teacher level. It happened or was condoned much higher up the food chain. Suspicions? NO!

And, as for the “let’s move on” attitude: Many dollars were swindled as a result of the cheating. Are you willing to just let those stay with the cheaters?

The plain, old truth of the matter is, the cheating was encouraged or condoned from the top down. People profited. They need to be fired and the money recouped.

Unless you do this, it will continue. How many more millions do you want lost to cheaters?

As to the idea of testing at the end of school: Unless your system can pay for summer school after school is out, I doubt it is workable, since I believe systems have to offer remediation. What I seem to notice is that now that summer school is not free babysitting, fewer students are failing. Hmmm. Of course, it might just be an adjustment of the cut scores (again) or a revision of the way the questions are written to make them easier.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 21st, 2011
2:12 pm

Boosting student learning: (1) How about using a student’s CRCT score as a substantial criterion in
calculating his/her final grade in each corresponding subject?

(2) How about GAE’s and PAGE’s working with MACE in individual
schools to improve the conditions under which many of their
members try to teach and many of our kids try to learn?

East Cobb Parent

February 21st, 2011
2:13 pm

As a parent, I would like to see testing done the last week of school. I would also like the opportunity to review the test and what my child(ren) missed. Catlady brings up a valid point on summer school and remediation. Is it possible to charge for summer school/remediation? I’ve often thought if parents had to pay then they may decide that academics are more important than their child getting to baseball practice (fill in any extra curricular activity you like). If allowed to review the test, more parents may realize that the child only needed 56% correct to “meet” standards. It never ceases to amaze me the parents that complain that their child was only one question short to meet or exceed standards and how dare anyone suggest their child need extra help – yet haven’t missed a practice or game all season. These same parents don’t understand how low the cut scores are. Of course, Cobb has added the standards based grading and report card to the mix to further mask how poorly a child is performing. So a child gets 10 questions out of 16 correct, receives a 2 – parent thinks the child is doing great.

Teacher Reader

February 21st, 2011
2:40 pm

@ East Cobb Parent,

I agree. Until parents wake up and realize that their children are behind even with a 2, than the same old will continue. Kids should be held back if they did not make the cut, but I have seen too many schools appease parents and pass the child on, even though he/she cannot perform at grade level.

Parents not understanding that tests or parts of tests are read to first and second graders is even more appalling. Not sure who made this rule, but a child with no reading skills can listen to the teacher and figure out the answer.

Then entire CRCT system needs to be scrapped. Bring on the IOWA (ITBS) at the end of every year and if a child doesn’t perform at grade level, they are retained, period. Or have the children show what they know and write how they solved a math problem and did what they did.

Show parents how many problems their children answered incorrectly. Many teachers can’t read the print out of student scores, so how do we expect parents to do the same?

What do kids really learn during the last weeks of school after the CRCT? Not much. As far as many kids and parents are concerned the year is over after the CRCT.

iamshell

February 21st, 2011
2:41 pm

@ East Cobb parent: Most kids who struggle are not the ones who are involved in extra curricular activities. They are from disadvantaged homes who sometimes have to babysit their siblings while their parents work or who spend a lot of time alone with no supervision. With the exception of special needs students or those with low IQ’s, there is no reason for a child to fail if they come from a supportive home. You’re right about the parents needing to pay attention. Sadly, that also includes making sure we know what is supposed to be taught and making sure we hold teachers and schools accountable if we feel they are missing something BEFORE the test.

teacher&mom

February 21st, 2011
2:50 pm

Perhaps a better question is whether or not we should continue to pour money down the standardized testing hole. Here’s what I dug up from the 2010 GaBOE agenda minutes that deal with standardized testing:

Approved a contract with NCS Pearson, Inc, $80,000, to implement a link from schools using PowerSchool to the statewide student information system.

Approved a contract with K-12 Solutions group, $65,000, to implement a link from schools using Infinite Campus software to the statewide student information system.

Contract with Pearson at a cost not to exceed $85,000.00 in Federal Funds for Work Sampling System (WSS) licenses, training, and manuals.

Contract, MetaMetrics, $153,269.46, to provide the Lexile Framework for Reading for state-mandated assessments..

Contract, College Board, $1,091,245, tor administration and scoring of AP exams.

Grant, Georgia State University, $150,000, for research related to the Georgia Alternate Assessment.

Contract with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to increase by $15,211.00 for a new total contract not to exceed $1,360,789.00 in State Funds for the inclusion of the Grade 3 Writing Assessment for the 2010-2011 school year.

Contract, University of Wisconsin, $1,932,000, for administration of the ACCESS for English Language Learners assessment.

Contract amendment, Riverside Publishing, $972,372, for improvements in reporting structures within the Online Assessment System.

Contract amendment, NCS Pearson, $5,830,193, for development of mathematics items for inclusion in the Online Assessment System.

Contract, Battelle for Kids, $250,000, for work related to building a value-added model for assessing student achievement as proposed in Georgia’s Race to the Top application.

Contract, University System Board of Regents, $1,515,934, for development and support of an alternative CRCT assessment for students with disabilities.

Contract, Utah State University, $95,000, for providing training and assessment of educational interpreters.

Contract, learning.com, $617,208, for use of the company’s assessment of students in technology literacy.

Total = $14,283,010.46

What’s missing from the above items? The actual annual costs of administering the CRCTs & EOCTs. Anyone know where a person can dig up that information?

East Cobb Parent

February 21st, 2011
3:00 pm

@teacher&mom sadly it is more about the money than anything else. Do a little digging and you will find the grants KSU received based on “selling” math techniques to Cobb County. @iamshell, I’m in East Cobb, I see parents paying hundreds to let little Billy play travel ball, but little Billy can’t read beyond Captain Underpants and then needs help, little Billy failed to meet the basic requirements but Mom/Dad/Admin pitched the fit and little Billy moved to the next level. If there was a charge for remediation parents that can always find the money for little Billy to play – even when dad has been unemployed for a year – may finally decide an education is important.

ah03422

February 21st, 2011
3:13 pm

I am new to “blogging” so let me begin by saying….As an educator, I dislike administering the CRCT to my own students. I think it would be much better facilitating in a colleagues class, than in my own classroom. I am not saying that I would cheat for my students but at least that element is eliminated. We are all told to monitor our students and make sure they are bubbling inside the circle. Make sure there are no stray marks. I don’t even want to look in their booklets. I also think that we are so focused on the CRCT that we lose sight on the main goal…Educating our students. Do I think we should give the CRCT at the end of school? ABSOLUTELY. I would recommend the 1st or 2nd week of May. This would allow different year end activities to be held without much downtime. Our system gave the exam last year during the last two weeks in April. We only had 3 weeks left of school when our testing was completed. I tell my students at the beginning of the year that CRCT is a bad word…hahaha…(not really). I tell them that I will teach them and they will learn throughout the year. We won’t worry about the CRCT until our booklets are on our desks. This does eliminate a little of their stress!!!

East Cobb Parent

February 21st, 2011
3:24 pm

@ah03422 do you give your students the CRCT practice booklets/logins after the winter break? Standard procedure in my area. Along with other homework the kids must do a certain number of practice tests each night, every night until they take the CRCT.

Jackie T.

February 21st, 2011
3:36 pm

@ Teacher Reader,

I have no idea what makes the ITBS any better. NO test, including CRCT, is inherently bad or good. It’s how we use the test that matters.

Fericita

February 21st, 2011
3:51 pm

Jackie T. – Yes, it is how we use the test that matters. I think that’s why the ITBS is a better measure. It’s norm-referenced, so kids are aligned with a percentile that shows how they compare to other kids in their grade across the country. The CRCT, a criterion-referenced test, is supposed to measure the kids’ knowledge of what they’ve learned in school. But since a 45% earns the kids a pass, it’s not exactly an accurate measure.

Public & Private Parent

February 21st, 2011
4:25 pm

What a great essay.
It has always been interesting to me how many teachers, especially those receiving students from other schools and districts, rarely review the previous years test with the student or the parents. The school year begins, and an army of new evaluations begin. We parents never have an opportunity to review what little Johnny did right or wrong on last years standardized test, where his/her weaknesses were and what the plan of action is moving forward. Yes, the quickie data is embedded on the results sheet and yes, I’m able to interpret the data, but it would be much more effective, especially for parents with children who are not at grade level, to have a serious “start of the year” meeting with the new teacher and go over exactly what is needed for that individual child, based on their grades and test data from the prior year. A child may not meet in math, but upon closer evaluation and a conference, a parent may see that his/her weakness isn’t in math overall, it’s in one or two areas of study. The parent is then armed with specific information and can help the teacher to strengthen the child in that particular area. And let’s not forget children who “exceed” on the tests either. They seem to always get tossed aside since they’re not failing. But upon closer review, I’ve seen gaps, serious gaps, in the learning of those students as well. Ask that same “exceeds” student to explain in detail an answer in essay form (as I did with my own child) and you may be amazed at their lack of understanding of the material. Then again, I guess mastery isn’t the goal these days…just cram in enough information so that they can make an educated a.b.c.d. answer…to heck with actually LEARNING something. With the current CRCT, I feel like we’re all competing to be the best of the worst.

Echo

February 21st, 2011
5:51 pm

@ atlteacher&mom: I asked the question about cost to implement those tests and was told in the neighborhood of $34-35 Million.

My kids are taking the Biology EOCT on April 28th & 29th. In other words…13 weeks to teach an entire year course in Biology (we lost a week in January due to snow). Got the entire month of May to ???? reteach???? collect data ????

teacher&mom

February 21st, 2011
5:58 pm

@Public & Private Parent—very good points about being armed with data at the beginning of the year to address weaknesses. Unfortunately, the CRCT/EOCT reports don’t report meaningful data. The scores in each domain cover a wide range of concepts and without seeing the actual test items, a teacher has to “guess” where the weaknesses occur.

For example: Here’s a description for a Physical Science Domain – Physics: Waves, Electricity, and Magnetism. Assessment in this domain focuses on recognizing waves transfer energy;
investigating light and sound phenomena and comparing light to sound; explaining
Doppler effect; describing the causes of static electricity; constructing and analyzing
series and parallel circuits; describing the relationship between voltage, current and
resistance and relating electricity and magnetism and common applications.

An individual student’s data may indicate 8 out of 16 questions were correct. Did the student understand electricity but missed questions about the Doppler effect and light?

Can you understand my frustration with CRCT’s and EOCT’s?

teacher&mom

February 21st, 2011
6:03 pm

@Echo….13 weeks to teach Biology? I also teach Biology and there is NO WAY you can adequately cover the GPS in 13 weeks. It is hard enough in a “normal” year. That’s insane!

teacher&mom

February 21st, 2011
6:05 pm

@Echo… 35-40 million. That is sickening. I can’t scrape together $500 to restock my lab supplies and our state has millions to send to Pearson and Riverside.

Tony

February 21st, 2011
6:07 pm

CRCT is designed to gauge student progress and school progress on the prescribed curriculum. If we only used the results for this purpose, it would not matter when we gave the test. Unfortunately, the results of the tests have been hijacked and are used for purposes for which the tests were not designed. High stakes testing using any single measure gives an unfair representation of students’ actual abilities.

In reality, we could give the tests the last week of school. We have the technical ability to scan the answer sheets on-site and submit them for grading. We have the ability to get instant results, too. Why don’t we take advantage of these time-savers? Instead, we spend thousands of dollars state-wide to ship the tests to a center somewhere out of state and wait for the hocus-pocus period of statistical review. Then we get the results – electronically! Wow!

I concur that we should give the tests the last week of school. We should return to the use of summer school for those students who need it, and we should retain the students who don’t earn promotion.

long time educator

February 21st, 2011
7:04 pm

Thank you wise new teacher; I hope they listen to you! I think this is a very well written essay and I agree with all your suggestions. I think allowing everyone to see the difficulty of the questions as well as the explanation for the correct answer, will do everyone involved some good. It would also be excellent if the state would be more open about the cut scores. My guess is they wait for the tests to come in and be graded before they select how many correct are needed to pass. If it is truly a criterion referenced test, it should be predetermined.
I would also like to comment on the tone of so many of the folks who respond to this blog. Being critical, catty and hateful does not improve your esteem in the eyes of other readers. We can have different opinions without vilifying each other. If you are an educator, I expect you especially to have a tolerance for differences of opinion; hopefully you are the moderator in your classroom, teaching students to have respect for each other, even if they disagree.

Just Another Teacher

February 21st, 2011
10:12 pm

I am so happy that someone mentioned the Regents exams from NY State!! I am a product of the NY Public Education system, and am rather proud to admit that. I graduated with Honors with a Regents Diploma… yes at the time there was MORE than ONE high school diploma. (Shocker!)

When I moved here to be a teacher I was so surprised at the CRCT… when it was given (1 month before school let out), how it was administered (by homeroom), the fact that you as a teacher were FORBIDDEN to look at the test (what? really!), the way the test was set up (only multiple choice questions, no short answer DBQs or Essays), how the test was graded (it was sent far far away to let some stranger grade it… or run it thorugh a scantron machine (rather than allowing real teachers to grade it)

As the author wrote, the Regents exams are given after school has let out. You report to school either at 8am if you have a morning exam or at 12pm if you have an afternoon exam. Sometimes you might have an exam during both times, but that was really rare. Tests were administered in the gym…. desks were set up and proctors walked around, watching you like hawks. After tests were finished a proctor checked them over, in plain sight of every person in the gym and your tests was locked away until grading. Teachers were given a certain amount of time to grade the exams… at least 2 teachers were required to grade an exam… if there was a discrepancy of more than 5 points, a 3rd teacher was brought it to grade it, so it would be fair. Under NO circumstances were teachers allowed to grade their own students’ exams. Tests were multiple choice, short answer (DBQ) and Essay (Thematic/Expository)

I think it would be great to adapt some of the NY tests. Check out some of the exams from years past here: http://www.nysedregents.org/ It would be great for GA to offer Regents Diplomas, I think they require a well-rounded curriculum. When I graduated in 2002 students were required to have 3 years of Math, 4 years of Social Studies, 3 years of Science, 4 years of English/Language Arts, and 2 years of Foreign Language or Technology/Business. This meant that you took Regents exams in those subjects and had to pass them. For Social Sciences and English there were two exams within the four years, rather than 1 exam each year.

We need to make drastic changes. Why not borrow from other states in order to save money? If not NY then perhaps Mass or CA or other states that have PROVEN to have a well-rounded, intelligent curriculum with acceptable expectations.

older than dirt but still standing (and thinking)

February 23rd, 2011
11:42 am

Thank you everyone for all of your comments. I have sent the link to the DOE. Maybe someone will listen. If people in the streets can cause change in the Middle East, then maybe teachers and parents in Georgia can bring change from the internet. By the way, this was a typo “From a financial perspective, it is more costly to cool a classroom in June, than it is in August.” I meant to say that it is cheaper to cool a classroom in June than in August. I will now go to my room and repent. Again, I want to thank all of you for your time, Take care and keep those thoughts and ideas coming – you just never know.