Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some random bits of insanity

Just thought I'd share a few random bits of public school nonsense probably not known to the general public. First, I'll define some terms. The regents exam is a standardized subject test given in NY state high schools. It might be given in other states too, but I'm not sure. Most high school classes are meant to prepare students to pass a regents exam. CCLS stands for Common Core Learning Standards. Those are a set of standards that states "voluntarily" adopted - voluntarily meaning if they didn't then they wouldn't get money from the federal government. These standards are supposed to promote higher level thinking and make students "career and college ready."

So, here's some ridiculousness for you.

-A passing grade on regents exams is 65 or above (out of 100). For math regents, any score of 34 and above is rounded up to 65.

-New York State has steadily lowered the score students need to pass because too many were failing.

-In a non honors class at my school, less than half of the class usually passes the math regent. Meaning they score below 34.

-In math regents, students don't have to get the right answer to get most of the credit for a non multiple choice question.

-Grammar and spelling are not counted when scoring English regents.

-Though social studies teachers are now asked to teach writing skills because of CCLS, writing skills are not counted when scoring the social studies regents. Neither are grammar and spelling.

-CCLS mandates that every teacher be a literacy teacher - even math teachers. Guess what isn't tested on the math regents?

-In the new system of teacher evaluation mandated by Race to the Top, 40% of a teacher's rating is based on their students' scores on certain standardized tests. The only tests that are used are for English and mathematics.

-That means 80% of subjects don't have tests.

-To fill in the gap, a Spanish or art teacher's rating could be tied to a student's performance on math tests. Or English. The totally arbitrary decision is left up to individual districts.

-Alternatively, teachers can design their own tests. That's right, teachers are being asked to design standardized tests to which their own job ratings are tied. These tests are not evaluated for consistency or validity, a process which takes years of research by professional test designers.

That's all I have time for now. Why doesn't the public know this? How do schools get away with demanding more and more money? Ridiculousness.

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