As noted in an earlier post, my school has blocked all streaming video because of testing concerns. I have been told that at somewhere around 80 people taking computerized tests, our limited bandwidth starts throwing people out of the system. We can’t allow those performance issues when taking standardized tests, so the district tech people have been trying to conserve bandwidth at all costs. If you’re not testing, you’re not on the internet. I’ve stumbled on one particularly boring, preapproved math exception, but overall we are in book, pencil and paper mode.
When we talk about costs of testing, I believe we lose the little details at the edges. Can I teach without streaming video? Of course I can. Can my students operate without using the internet? In the very recent past, all students did. But would my students benefit from access to the internet, especially access to their math reinforcement program and other online tutorials? Without doubt. Between PARCC and MAP tests being administered across the grades, though, we have shut down the net. We have been down for one and one-half weeks. Unfortunately, while MAP wrapped up today, PARCC starts next week. Given that we are forced to give this test grade by grade, due to internet issues, and then follow with make-up tests in a district with relatively high absenteeism, my students won’t have internet access for at least two more weeks probably — if then. That’s more than one-twelfth of the school year. The total would be significantly greater than one-twelfth if technology had figured out the advantages of blocking streaming sites sooner.
Eduhonesty: We are in our third major block of testing. If they block during all testing next year, will we shut down video for one-fourth of the school year? The costs here are mostly details at the edges of instruction, but those details enhance instruction. My PowerPoint on gravity and inertia had a neat link to a site with crash dummies, useful for reinforcing my side trip into why we should buckle our seatbelts. (“YOU are still going 60 MPH!”) But we can’t see the crash dummies. Other links showed planets circling the sun. But we can’t watch the planets circle. My links are useless.
This loss from the barrage of testing is unlikely to hit any researcher’s radar. In the larger scheme of things, my losses will be considered small. We are talking about diminishing instruction in favor of testing, though, and I want to blog this loss. While I am blogging ancillary damage, I’ll also note that 5 students were pulled out of my classes today for MAP make-ups, actually seven due to a scheduling snafu, and that those students missed quiz reviews and labs. I keep saying I’ll catch up all these kids later, but I don’t know when or how later will come. In math, I have to give a quiz on Monday — I am already a day behind schedule — and I have a medical test that will suck up Tuesday when they will be doing review for a math unit test on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be PARCC testing. Science classes are slogging along, not much more than one day behind. Those classes will be impacted by PARCC as well.