Friday’s numbers

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I suggest readers backtrack to January 14th and read forward in time. This post is connected to a group of posts. It’s best understood by starting back when these testing events begin. I also plan to clean up my recent posts and add more explanations for acronyms, so if you have arrived at this post on January 24th, I suggest you check back in a few days. I wanted to get all this data down while I was in the trenches, exhausted or not, so some recent posts are … untidy.

The ACCESS test is winding down. We are helping other grades to finish now. Total time on ACCESS for Friday was only 1.78 hours. I accidentally omitted some MAP time from a few days ago. The administration gave us all packets with MAP scores and I went over those scores in class. I’ll count this as standardized test time, too, since going over results of a standardized test in class precludes doing the actual lesson plan. That time amounted to roughly 20 minutes. Total time for MAP, ACCESS and SLO testing now stands at 25.04 hours over the last nine instructional days. This number only represents hours taken out of the actual school day. The hours spent grading SLOs at home are not included, although those hours deserve some recognition since I cannot grade regular student papers or prepare instruction while I am grading my SLOs.

Let’s throw a percentage in here: I have 43.6 hours available for instruction during nine days. My test total of 25.04 represents 57% of those hours. That’s time directly related to testing. It’s only a partial calculation of the actual time lost.

Any attempt to quantify lost class time will necessarily be an underestimate. I can calculate the minutes I lose directly, but I can’t account for ancillary test damage. One earlier post added seven minutes into the test count because those seven minutes were instructionally useless. We didn’t have time to work on the week’s lessons, and even if I had thrust some five minute activity at the students, they were burnt out. Test burn-out affects all the remaining minutes of a school day. Sometimes I wonder how often test burn-out affects all the remaining minutes of a school life. For some students, we pile on set after set of depressing scores, month after month, year after year. The cumulative effect of those scores cannot be trivial. After awhile, I know I’d give up. Why play a game you never win?

Unfortunately, win, lose or even mutilate yourself in frustration, and America’s school districts may still make you play — over and over and over again.