Door Number Three

Stacking up winners and losers in the Great Massessment Debate…

threeDoors-copy*I’ll take door number three, Monty.* Wait—there’s a door number three¿¿¿ I speak, of course, of the remarkable journey that has been the Great Massessment Debate. PARCC vs. MCAS. MCAS vs. PARCC. This week the path to college and career readiness suddenly reached a fork in the road, by which I mean a trident. But as any young Massessee who has fallen on the wrong side of the cut score can attest, there must be winners and losers in this particular contest. To the doors, reader!  Continue reading →

What It Looks Like When Test Prep Eats Ur School

report card

It looks like this, as a matter of fact. This is an actual report card from a fifth grade student in Massachusetts whom we will call Ginny, in place of the inevitable Johnny. A note on the notations: the slash marks indicate *not introduced at this time,* meaning that Ginny seems to have gone entirely history/social studies/and map free during the all important spring testing season. The *D* stands for developing, as Ginny likely spent much of her time developing short essays in response to the out-of-context passages she spent most of the rest of her time reading. That is when she wasn’t honing her math skills. Continue reading →

Parents Я Dumb


How not to respond to an opt-out request…

Dear education official: when a parent informs you that their child(s) will not be participating in a standardized-test-related activity, is the appropriate response to A: inform the parent that such is his or her right under Massachusetts’ ever *evolving* position on said right (or lack thereof); B: treat the opportunity as a *teachable moment* and *drill down* into the amount of testing currently mandated by the district in question; C: mock said parents in assorted correspondence with other education officials; or D: hope that said parents don’t file a public records request and pass said mocking correspondence onto a blogger…  Continue reading →

¡Turn it Around!

What if there was a way to turn schools around without turning them upside down?

It’s field trip time, reader — and today we’re off to visit a real live school success story. FYI: it’s not the Massachusetts miracle turnaround school that got a shout-out at the Democratic National Convention, merited a visit by Yo Yo Ma, or whose students recently traveled to the White House in order to recite a Martin Luther King speech to President Obama. In other words, we’re NOT headed to Orchard Gardens, which has received more adulatory press coverage than any other public school in Massachusetts…  Continue reading →

Testing, Testing

By anonymous

The memo came last week. The latest district directive clearly laid out the course of literacy “instruction” for the next three weeks. We will immediately put our reading series on hold and use sample items from the MCAS, the Massachusetts high-stakes test, to better prepare the students who will soon be taking them. Students will read the passages independently, annotate the text, and answer the questions. Teachers are expected to analyze the responses to identify and address areas of weakness, while also teaching effective test taking strategies. This will be done everyday during the time that used to be spent on reading and writing. Continue reading →