At the MCCSC school board meeting on January 28, 2020, this statement written by Keri Miksza was presented during public comment.
Last year myself and others spoke to the board about a few things. I was concerned about class size, especially in Title I schools. No elementary teacher should teach a class of 30, especially in a Title I school. In addition, I suggested that there be an audit of all the assessments given in the district.
Since then, there was an information night explaining all the mandated assessments and an assessment matrix was created. It’s good transparency. In addition, since then, ILEARN results came out and we all discovered that the cut scores the state chose were not ideal, resulting in low scores for many districts. Teachers in lower socio-economic schools were discouraged as they worked so hard. Currently our legislators are determining to hold schools harmless from ILEARN scores for last year and this year.
Last week my daughter came home to tell me she spent the day practicing ILEARN. She is in 6th grade at Binford. All 4 core periods were spent practicing ILEARN. I asked the principal and one of her teachers and they confirmed that the district is requiring ILEARN to be practiced 2x on top of the state mandated practice session.
Parents should know how many assessments and practice assessments their kids are given each year that are mandated—not by the choice of the teacher. A district ought to know how many assessments their employees are administering to children and how much time it takes their teachers to administer. What curriculum is lost due to these assessments? Yes, some assessments are useful but others may just be taking up precious teaching and learning time.
I have given you a spreadsheet based on a very informal survey of the mandated assessments that K-6 teachers give. Some are short, some are long. Some are given in a group, some are given individually. Some are online, some are oral, some are on paper. All interrupt a teacher’s day. If a class is 30, that’s a lot of assessments to administer.
There are 180 days of school. Based on count alone, if a student took 1 assessment per day, some students may be taking mandated assessments for 1/3 to ½ of the 180 days they are in school. And this does not include the assessments that the teacher may choose to administer herself, like spelling or social studies assessments.
This list is not accurate as I am just a mom. I am not an assessment expert. But I do think it’s a good ballpark estimate. Please note that kids in Title I schools are likely assessed more than their counterparts in non-Title I schools. Due to that, are kids in Title I schools receiving a narrower curriculum? Is that fair? In addition, I’m not sure how many assessments kids with IEPs must take.
What concerns me the most are the number of district mandated assessments. We really can’t control the ones mandated by federal and state, but we can control locally mandated assessments. I ask the board to speak to teachers, to members of the union about CFAs. Allegedly they are currently being re-written to look like ILEARN questions. Is a test dictating curriculum? Is it appropriate for kids who don’t test well on ILEARN? How much is too much testing?
Thank you for your time.