It’s time to look at the data from this week’s poll. I appreciate everyone who responded. Per usual, some of the results surprised me a bit. There were slightly more responses than usual this week which is always a good thing. Let’s look at the results.
On the issue of testing, it seems that despite the state’s best PR efforts you are still unconvinced. Well over 50% of respondents had a negative opinion of the testing, with only 9% saying they felt things were improving. There were several “other” responses. Here those are:
|It is not tnready testing that kills teaching its the district mandated testing||1|
|Not adminustered with enough fidelity to give accurate results||1|
|Time spent in testing is too long. Two weeks? 2-3 parts per test=too much.||1|
|Too many problems sand too much emphasis||1|
|1st time for it (5th gr.) He thinks it’s fun, lol.||1|
|over the top.|
One thing I am hearing is potential problems in the state mandate that the tests be taken consecutively over 4 days. If a child is absent, when will the make up be given and who will give it? Also since each district is being given leeway in how they will apply the results to a students report card, there is some concern about maintaining consistency across districts not to mention the skepticism that the state will actually have the results back in time to be factored into student grades.
Also a little disturbing this year is the fact that over a 100 districts in Tennessee are piloting tests for second graders. Equally disturbing are Tennessee Education Director Candice McQueen’s comments that the test is designed not to be boring. “They’re interesting questions, questions that require thinking, which makes it much more engaging for students,” she said. Probably much more engaging then actual learning right? It’s like an infection. Soon it will spread to first grade and then to Kindergarten. The testing of our youngest students has the potential to do much more harm then good.
Every year it becomes a little more clear that the whole standardized testing concept is a little ludicrous. I’ve heard rumors this year that some of the questions are actually more age appropriate then in the past. I’ve always said that he who controls the cut scores controls the narrative, well I guess the same would hold true for he who makes the questions. One thing doing this weekly poll has taught me is that making questions that don’t just give you the answer you want is extremely difficult. We really need to take a hard look at our testing policy and re-evaluate exactly what we are trying to accomplish.
On question two, regarding MNPS’s Middle School wide STEAM initiative, 51% of you thought it was just another gimmick that would be discarded in a number of years. On a positive note, 13% of respondents felt it was a fantastic idea. In all fairness, MNPS has not always been the best at following through with initiatives. Anybody remember the Middle Prep re-branding strategy? Again, under “other” there were some interesting responses.
|I like the idea, but I’m skeptical that it will work out.||1|
|Still ONE size fits all?||1|
|I think one of his friends is a STEAM consultant||1|
|Good idea to focus on middle schools||1|
|It is a good idea, but how will it be implemented?||1|
|also agree with the liberal arts comment||1|
|Not appropriate for all students|
The last question asked for a grade on Dr. Joseph’s performance to date. If I was him I would be a little concerned about the results as the grades given averaged out to a C minus. Clearly greater attention needs to be paid to winning hearts and minds.
One thing that I think needs to stop is the use of previous administrations actions to defend current policy. I’ve heard people try to mitigate the outlandish travel this year by pointing to a previous trip to China. Past bad policy does not defend current bad policy. We can’t go back and change past actions, we can commit to doing things right in the future. A good place to start would be by killing the Scholastic contract that’s up for a vote at today’s board meeting.
Remember a couple months ago when MNPS took a trip to Amelia Island for a Scholastic conference? Remember when MNPS claimed that Scholastic paid none of the expenses for the trip? Today on the consent agenda is a $140k contract that would pay scholastic for 300 books per classroom for each of the 5 schools that sent representatives on the trip. Still think Scholastic paid none of the expenses?
MNPS policy over the last several years has been very explicit in this area. The very appearance of impropriety makes it a violation of policy. That’s a policy that needs to be upheld. Hopefully some of the board members will question this contract and realize just how improper it looks and at least demand, since more books are never a bad thing, that the contract be split up between publishers.
That’s it for this week.