Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Story Of Assessment

This week has been... well... not great. As I mentioned earlier, my school is on a big "inquiry" kick and the data specialist and the AP have been sparring about binders and table of contents, and all kinds of stuff that has nothing to do with instruction. Now, they have decided that they want us to turn in a summary of our inquiry students' needs and the action that we have taken in our instruction to meet those needs AND the findings. Keep in mind, we have had NO CONVERSATION about what we are even inquiring about. They also want all of our conferring notes for reading so we can "standardize" our notes. did they forget that report cards are due on Monday and that we have been busting our butts to get all of the children assessed for reading? YEP, they did! They FORGOT about report cards. They must have also forgotten that in order to assess all of our students for reading, it takes TIME... lots of time, like 20-40 minutes per student. And since we have gotten NO EXTRA PREPS in which to assess our students, we are all doing it in the classroom with all of the other students present and since we have no paras or assistants, the students need to be completely independent in order for us to get these assessments done... hence the fact that my colleagues and I agree that we have been literally TEACHING NOTHING for the past 2 weeks.

When I say teaching nothing, I don't mean that the students have not been reading and writing, they have, but I have not taught them anything new. I have been doing lots of "reading response" where I do a read aloud (related to our current area of study in writing), we do some storytelling as a whole class, and the students write the story from beginning to end in their journals. When they finish, they illustrate their favorite part. I know... not so great, but I NEED them to be independent for large chunks of time. Given the current climate, how the heck am I supposed to have addressed the needs of my inquiry student in my instruction? Conferring notes for reading? HA!!! That must be a sick joke, unless they mean my notes from December. I started assessing my students for Promotion in Doubt in mid-January to have the scores ready for February. So this means I have spent half of January and ALL of February ASSESSING!!!! Then, of course, I'm pretty sure they also FORGOT about promotion-in-doubt conferences because we didn't schedule them until this past week. So on top of all the assessing madness, I have been holding conferences every morning before school and sometimes after school with parents.

So, now I am going to reflect on how we reached this point at my school. Things were not always this chaotic AT ALL!!!!! My first year of teaching I was told I had to assess my students using ECLAS. I got a neat little box with neat little booklets for all of the students. It came with nice laminated card stock sheets with the alphabet, sight words, etc. I had all of the books I needed right there in the cute little box. When it was time to assess, I took my neat box of materials out to the hallway and spent and ENTIRE DAY assessing my students. Yes, an entire day, that is because I was given a substitute teacher for an entire day so I could assess my students.

My second year of teaching, we opted not to use ECLAS anymore, but instead went with the TC DYO assessment. It sounded great at first--culturally relevant texts, more levels, etc. That is until I actually had to assemble my assessment binder and I realized that this wouldn't fit in a neat little box like ECLAS. Suddenly I was swimming in photocopies and I literally had to take over a whole work table in my classroom to get this thing set up. If I was missing a copy of something, FORGET IT!!!! I had to deal with the photocopier to replace it. The worst part was that the assessment was almost completely the SAME as ECLAS. The only real difference was the books, which I didn't find in any way better than the ones we used with ECLAS. Yes, they were "culturally relevant" but not AT ALL for my students, so much so that I find myself having to explain what a rodeo is, or finding Vietnam on a map, or explaining what a Dashiki is before we can even sit down to read. The books from ECLAS were about dogs losing tennis balls and simple stuff like that. Things that kids could relate to. Oh, did I mention, this is also when my school stopped giving us a substitute for a day so we could actually get the work done.

Let's jump ahead to this year, my 5th year of teaching. I have used the TC DYO assessment now for 4 years. Now NO ONE supplies us with anything. I have to print the running record sheets off from my HOME COMPUTER and bring them to school to photocopy and file myself. Our new packets were photocopies incorrectly for the 2nd year in a row so I have to staple the spelling section on myself. Last year I had to hand write list C for the word list assessment. I'm just so sick of the explosion of paper that happens in my room and I just think to myself, "For what?" It's all just so stupid. We switched from ECLAS to the TC DYO so that someone else could MAKE MONEY OFF POOR CHILDREN!!!! That is the bottom line!

1 comment:

Launa Hall said...

Wow, that's a heavy dose, especially not having a sub so you can get the assessments knocked out in one day. That sounds so sensible...