(This speech was presented to the JCPS Board of Education on 2/9/16.)
We are pleased to hear the district has decided to no longer require diagnostic testing. We very much hope that the district will mirror the board’s sentiments. However, it is not nearly enough. Some teachers tell us their school will not be discontinuing these tests. Others say this has been their policy for two years. Some principals and teachers have voiced concern over being reprimanded if they were to discontinue these tests. So we wonder how much of a change this actually is.
On the subject of testing and your Vision 2020 strategic goal, consider these messages from some of our teachers…
From a 1st -5th ECE classroom teacher:
My 3rd graders take the MPA and RPA. I have five 3rd graders. Two of them get readers, three of them don’t. I have to test the 3rd grade readers and non readers separately; one gets a scribe and the other two move at different paces, so I have to test them individually. Don’t forget that almost all of these students get double extended time as an accommodation as well. So for my five 3rd graders that I see for an hour each day taking 2 assessments (MPA and RPA), it will take every bit of the 5 hours that I see them in a week to complete these 10 assessments and provide them with their accommodations. This is 5 hours of specialized instruction that they are NOT receiving, since I cannot help them or explain anything to them at this time.
From an ESL teacher:
How about not wasting the ESL students’ time by not requiring them to take proficiencies or diagnostics until they have acquired enough English to pass their own test – the ACCESS test. Why are ESL students being taught to randomly pick answers (that is the only thing they can do when they don’t speak or read English.) What a waste of time for students and teachers. The fact that they take the KPREP in their 2nd year is ridiculous as well. Do you have any idea how many adult resources are being wasted trying to give them a test, that they don’t understand anyway, in a small group?
From a high school teacher who works with high poverty students:
Testing for seniors who don’t meet the ACT benchmarks as juniors is brutal. They are REQUIRED to complete interventions often getting pulled out of electives to do so. After a round of intervention, the student takes the Compass test in every subject where he/she didn’t meet the ACT benchmark. If they don’t meet the Compass benchmark, another round of intervention is ordered and the Compass test is attempted again. By this time, Compass attempts have been exhausted and the student begins taking the KYOTE test. The cycle of interventions and testing goes on while most never meet the benchmarks. After twelve years of struggling, these kids are simply too far behind to close the gap yet we continue to push to reach a number so our schools can meet their CCR goal. Who pays for all of those Compass tests and how much does each attempt cost? Compass and the Quality Core EOC exams are ACT tests. Somebody is profiting from this cycle of absurdity. Remember, these are our impoverished GAP kids.
(Due to the 3 minute time limit, the remainder of the message can be found in Gay Adelmann’s speech.)