Friday, May 15, 2009

Testing, Testing

Remember that End of Course test my students had to take a couple of weeks ago? We got back part of the results last week, and this week the Performance Event part of it was online for the teachers to go in and grade. That's right. The teachers grade a portion of the test, using the scoring guide provided by the state. That way, the students are held accountable. This test was 20% of their 4th Quarter grade. No more coloring in the scannable Number 2 pencil sheet with a pattern such as a swastika. No more writing "I don't know" on every question, just so it looks like you answered them.

The first part of the test was 47 Multiple Choice questions. That's the one where I read a test and had to look up SEVEN of those answers myself. The state took 35 of those questions to count on the results. The 20 points of the Performance Event that they let us grade was not the entire Performance Event. And it will be graded by the State of Missouri people anyway, before they send us the official results. Our scoring only counts for our grade in our class. No hanky-panky there, or as my counterpart said, "Nobody would ever score Below Basic."

The categories are Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic. The two parts of the test are combined for a total of 55 points. The Principal tallied up our scores at the lunch table today. He was quite pleased. Judging by the totals that included our scoring...we have 68% of our students performing at Proficient or Advanced. He even tallied them separately: my class, Counterpart's classes (which include an Advanced Biology class), and the Learning Disabilities class. Wouldn't you know it? EACH class came out to that 68% average. Even those LD kids (which we teach in our classrooms, but are tested in their resource class). None of the LDs were Advanced, but one of mine scored Proficient. That was a big deal to him. He's been asking about the scores for a week. His teacher said he tried REALLY HARD on that test. When I told them their scores today, he exclaimed, "That just made my weekend!"

I only had one student who scored Advanced. He made it by two points. I had another who missed it by one, and another who missed it by two. We'll see what happens when the state grades the Performance Event officially. Counterpart had about five kids score Advanced. She was hoping for more, what with having that Advanced Biology class. I had nobody Below Basic, but a couple were within three points of it. Counterpart had only one or two Below Basic. It's a double-edged sword, this scheduling. I have the Techies, but they DO care about passing, because if they don't, they can get yanked out of the Tech program. Counterpart gets the highs, and the lows who don't care.

The Performance Event was the easier part of the test because ALL OF OUR STUDENTS MUST PRESENT A SCIENCE PROJECT FOR A GRADE. Not only that... they have to sit through all the presentations and hear the teachers ask about the variables and such. I can't imagine how they would have done if the scientific method was just something that they read about in the text. Last year was the first year that we required the project. Before that, I was not teaching science, and the teachers didn't require one. Counterpart was gung ho for the project thingy when I approached her about it last year. Now we are reaping the benefits.

It is what it is. I am still confident that we will score above the state average. Especially seeing how pleased The Principal was with the scores.

OUCH! I just hurt my broken neck, patting myself on the back!


DeadpanAnn said...


It is a really good idea to find a way for the kids to have a sense of how they did on the test before they leave for summer. Someone should call Jackson. In Mississippi (or at least in the 2 schools where I taught), the kids don't ever hear how they did on the test. Ever. Well, we did give them a copy of their scores in September of the following school year, provided the scores are available to us and someone in some central office somewhere didn't screw up and lose them (I never saw all of my kids' scores after my first year in HPSD, despite begging for them for several months). But the kids just look at them, laugh about how miserable their scores are, and then leave the papers in the floor for me to pick up.

There is absolutely zero incentive for them to try on the test. It doesn't affect their course grade, and they don't even see the score for months and months and months. They can go on to the next grade no matter what the score is. In fact, as I've said many times, the pressure is on teachers to pass them on regardless of what they do or don't do in class.

Last year during the MCT, I had one boy to say, "This shit is too hard" and shove his paper to the front of his table, put his head down, and refuse to continue. If I'd done what I wanted to do to him right then, they would've called it a hate crime. He didn't try all year long, but he was smart enough that he could've earned at least a Basic. No reason for him to care. Then in August my name was printed on a sheet of paper under my kids' miserable scores and passed out to my colleagues. Let me stop typing while my blood pressure is still at a safe level.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Miss Ann,
In the days of MAP testing, before the switch to End Of Course testing, we had trouble with kids leaving pages blank, or writing "I don't know." We had to threaten to withhold their MAP reward BBQ for students who didn't miss a day of testing and gave their best effort.

This 20% grade thingy really has them asking about the results. That, and they're juniors, which means they are planning to graduate, and actually care about credits.