I have been killing time, watching my students backs as they stare at the tiny print on Chromebook screens. That print looks very small. In the economically disadvantaged area where I work, the size of the print may be a problem. I had to read my “seal code” numbers aloud as I wrote them on the board. “Seal codes” are special sets of digits that unlock a section of the new PARCC test, a coded version of those paper strips that students had to break to enter new sections on the old paper tests. Not all of my students could read my seal codes, despite the fact I wrote them in bright, red ink in something like font size 395.
Poor students can get an annual pair of glasses but girls, in particular, may choose not to wear these. Could all my students read those little letters? Not easily or not well, I am sure. I am the mom of a bat-blind girl who got contacts at an early age, as well as frequent eye exams, but these students are not so lucky. I have been fighting the need to adapt the seating chart for students who can’t see since the start of the year. Despite multiple calls home to suggest glasses, a number of my students must sit in front to see.
Will vision affect the PARCC test? That’s my question. We may know more when test results trickle back in a few months, but then again, if that test proves to be as hard it looked from my proctoring glances, I don’t think we are going to learn much about what my students actually know. I think they are going to get annihilated. Sadly, I believe a small part of the damage done may result from teensy letters on teensy screens in a techno-challenged environment.
Eduhonesty: How we could sort out losses from poor eyesight, as opposed to lack of academic understanding, I have no clue. The effort would be monumental and the benefit slight. We don’t have the resources to check, any more than some of our parents have the resources to provide those contact lenses that their daughters might be willing to wear.