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The amount of time administration has spent getting ready for all these tests involves a formidable opportunity cost. In a less dragon-infested universe, these administrators might be able to organize community-outreach and student-spirit activities. They might be able to evaluate resource needs and plan for the future.

Still, in these times, keeping administration frantically busy may serve the greater good. Perhaps we are better off if administrators don’t have time to create more spreadsheets to fill with more data. At the rate we are going, we will be recording the Common Core standards associated with every test question on every required quiz, rather like the expectations for the SLO assessment from a few posts back, with individual line items for every student. Then we will all be expected to create multipage plans showing how we intend to address failed individual test questions for each student.

Eduhonesty: We are generating enormous quantities of information with all the required reports and spreadsheets teachers are now making to provide data for administrative decision-making. Does anyone have time to read and assess all this information? Does anyone ever step back and ask what information may be duplicative? What information may not be worth the time required to gather, compile and file?

We are doing two benchmark tests three times a year, not including the Common Core-based, national PARCC test which comes in two multi-day sessions. Could we skip AIMSWEB and just do MAP? Or could we do AIMSWEB in 6th and MAP in 7th and 8th? Do we need three sessions? Could we get by with two? How about MAP in late September and late March?

Eduhonesty: I’m a great believer that if at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try and try again — but when something nearing one-twelfth of a school year is sacrificed to testing, we just might be trying too hard. Hell, the people scheduling these tests seem to have fallen down the rabbit hole. The watching world must think we’ve gone barmy. I know I do.

We need some balance out here in the teaching trenches. Help! The more time we spend teaching our students, the more we will increase the odds that some of those students may actually learn the missing math and English which has been pulling down their test scores.