Friday, May 11, 2012

Standardized Fog

I'm in my "end of the year fog." Yes, I know it's only May and it's not technically the end of the calendar year. But, with May comes the end of the school year. The last couple of weeks I've just felt, well, blah, about school. I don't want to crawl out of bed in the morning. I don't really think about what outfit I'm wearing. I don't care what my hair looks like. Right now it just feels like I'm going through the motions.

I remember feeling like this last year, but for some reason, this year feels worse. I think it's because of the overabundance of testing this year. With every state/national standardized test that is completed, the students feel like they are one step closer to summer vacation. And the closer they get to that day, the less motivated they are to do any work. And I feel like their lack of motivation rubs off on me. Why should I put in the effort if they won't give any effort in return? It's seriously like pulling teeth these past couple weeks.

Florida has begun implementing a new way of testing students at the end of the year. In the past, students would take a standardized test known as the FCAT that assesses students on Math & Reading in their 10th grade year. Students were required to pass this test in order to graduate. If they didn't pass it their sophomore year, they could retake it up to (I believe) 4 more times and attempt to earn a passing score. My biggest complaint was that it would test on topics that some students wouldn't be exposed to. For instance, if a student was in remedial math, they would take Algebra I for two years, then take Geometry for a year, followed by another math course their senior year. However, the FCAT would test on Algebra II and even some basic Trigonometry, which those kids wouldn't have been exposed to. It's basically like setting them up for failure. Although they have eliminated the math portion of the FCAT, students are still required to complete the Reading portion of the test so that we can track student progress. That, and it holds us accountable to the No Child Left Behind standards.

Now, students have to take an End Of Course (EOC) exam for certain courses that are required for graduation. These exams are all computer-based now (supposedly to speed up the reporting of results). I actually like the idea of EOCS - testing students on information they learned that year makes a lot more sense than testing them on stuff they learned in previous years, or even on stuff they haven't learned yet. The downside to all of these exams though is that it takes an entire week at our school to test one subject area. And there are 4 subject areas currently using the EOCs: Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, and US History. Another downside is the fact that our school only has 100 computers on campus that can be used for these exams. Meaning, we can only test 100 students at a time (hence why it takes a week to test each subject area). Luckily, our school is relatively small. I can't even imagine what the larger schools are having to go through to get all of the kids processed.

Besides all the time and effort it takes to test all of these kids, probably the worst thing about all of it is when they are requiring to test the kids. Our last day of school is May 25th; other counties in the state finish a week or two behind us. Our first EOC was administered on  April 30th. As I mentioned before, once those kids are down with the test, it's like pulling teeth to get them to do anything. You're talking about a month of time where kids are unmotivated. Not only that, these are suppose to be end of course exams. Well, when you're on a semester block schedule, and you didn't get your kids until January, you're forced to condense all of your course's material into a much shorter time period. I don't see how this can truly be an end of course exam if the course hasn't even ended yet. I think they're trying to turn this into something more like New York's Reagents exams (of which I know very little about). But if I'm not mistaken, those kids come back after school has ended to take their exams. It just doesn't seem fair to the students, or the teachers, to force them to learn/teach all of the required standards in an even shorter amount of time.

Our school has been in testing mode since the middle of April. It started with the Reading FCAT for 9th and 10th graders - that took about a week. Our schedules were totally changed that week - I lost about 6 hours over the course of FCAT testing with my 2nd period students. Then, EOCs started which last for 4 weeks. Oh, and we can't forget the AP testing that's been going on this past week (my juniors are actually taking their exam now as I'm typing this). We still have County Assessment testing and Senior Exams next week, then Final Exams for all of the underclass the last week of May.

I know this is a new process. I know it takes a little while couple years to work out all of the kinks. But, literally, I'm burned out. I'm tired. I have zero motivation. I'm counting down the days until summer vacation right along with my students. And I'm sorry for venting. I know this is temporary, but this month just feels like its dragging.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...