Monday, March 09, 2009

CRTs: AKA Uber High Stakes Tests

The CRTs (Criterion Referenced Tests) are what the Silver State uses to see if the schools are making AYP (adequate yearly progress) in regards to NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Today was our first of 4 days (6 for the 8th graders) of fun testing. Today and tomorrow are the math tests, Wednesday and Thursday are the English tests and next Monday and Tuesday are the science tests.

Now the nice thing was that our students didn't seem super stressed by them, probably because they've already taken so many tests similar to this one, and because although we've told them the CRTs were coming, we as a staff didn't freak out about the tests and this was passed on to our students. We did have them review one from 2006 so they would be used to the wording, and we did make sure our lessons applied to the standards the CRTs were going to be testing, but freaking out was not in the plans.

I have mixed feelings about NCLB. I like the fact that schools are accountable for all of their students regardless of grade or ability, but I don't like the all or nothing tone of the law, nor do I like the fact that eventually all schools will fail to make AYP, especially once you get a vast majority of your students making AYP, because there is no way 100% of your students will make AYP no matter how much the school rocks. Imagine being in a school were you have 75% or more of your students making AYP and yet getting put on the watch list because you didn't improve from the year before or that your scores went down a bit. And spare me the righteous BS about educating everyone. That assumes (a BIG assumption) that your students are ready and capable of learning, and that (an even bigger assumption) those parents are on board with you as well. I'm all for accountability but at some point reason has to prevail, but like so many other things the federal government does, reason never entered the equation.

I'll keep you posted on the rest of the week. Maybe I'll be able to finish my unit on Letter From a Birmingham Jail, now that the copier has toner AND staples. I swear the kids eat the handouts when I'm not looking. No wonder their backpacks weigh 800 pounds...