For the past 4 weeks, middle and high schools have been scrambling to figure out how to get their students scheduled to take mysterious, state-controlled, computerized end-of-course exams. Students who take actual computer classes have been relegated to study halls for weeks at a time. Teachers have been limping along with half of their students gone, trying to keep the other students entertained while not covering any new material. What a waste.
You see, teachers are not allowed to give or grade their own students’ final exams in American History, Civics, Biology, Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry. At great cost to taxpayers students are required to take end-of-course exams designed by the Pearson Testing Company. In fact, teachers are not allowed to see these tests, ask their students about the tests, or ever see the results; other than some score that the test company assigns them over the summer. Can you imagine how insulting and frustrating that is to teachers and students?
Additionally, the state requires that 30% of the final grade be based on these tests, half of which will be scored sometime in June, the others in September. Can you imagine how many seniors have been sweating over whether or not they were really going to graduate next week?
A few days ago, the Department of Education Chancellor declared that the scores for three of the courses wouldn’t count against students’ final grades this year because the scores won’t be known until September. Hasn’t that been obvious for months? Why have the schools and students been put through this agony?
Since teachers of those courses were instructed not to give their own final exams, no final exam grade will be calculated at all for Algebra I, II and Geometry. So much for the importance of final exams! However, when these tests are finally scored, they all will count for or against a school’s grade, no matter how many computer glitches or crashed servers. Ridiculous.
In my experience, teachers are well-trained to make and grade their own final exams. Students strongly prefer taking exams in their own classrooms, not computer labs. What learning takes place if students and teachers can’t see the results? Why use computers if you can’t get the results back quickly?
I can’t understand why the Legislature quit trusting teachers to do their jobs. Are we ever going to return to sanity and get the state and giant corporations out of the business of testing our students to death?
We do not have all this time to waste. I support giving students a well-designed reading, writing and math competency test for graduation. But, PLEASE, stop micro-managing the classrooms and put an end to all of these wasteful, state-run, end-of-course exams–now.