The Lab Rat, Guinea Pig, and the Student

What do all the above have in common? Innocent victims or willing participants, right? As we enter the high-stakes testing season, be mindful of our youngsters that must undergo these assessments that determine if learning took place for the whole year or semester.

As I blogged before, teaching methods have changed over the decades, but standardized testing has not. Call these tests a necessary evil if you wish. In order to hold teachers accountable these tests are needed to generate data. As you know data is very valuable and has its own language. Data is used for research to improve education.

Continuing to embrace these days of testing anxiety that we all have experienced in the past, we can feel empathetic for all of our furry adolescent testing subjects.

Cannot make a race horse out of a mule


A few years ago after sitting in a staff meeting, all teachers were charged with the expectation for pushing all students to excel in their high stakes exam called the End-of-Grade assessment. I happened to overhear a veteran teacher proclaim what was instructed in the above title of this blog post. IMHO, that statement reflects a great sense of negativity, therefore I feel that this is an unfair statement to say about any student that is capable of demonstrating academic excellence.

May is upon us now, and all teachers are in test preparation mode. Teachers have to break out of the habit of teaching to the test which they have been accustomed to over the NCLB years. Race horses are built for endurance and trained all their lives to be number one. So do you think there is any truth to this veteran’s statement? Please share your thoughts.

High-Stake Assessments + Brain-dumps

Disclaimer: What I share on this blog are my views and do not necessarily reflect the views of my school district.

Just a thought…

When I was once in the IT field, one was once stressed in passing tests such the series of MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), A+, and CSA (Certified Solaris Administrator) certifications. To these and other tests, there exsited a dark-side that people (usually desperate) tend to gravitate. What I am speaking of are braindumps. Please follow the link to Wikipedia where it gives a more definate explaination. There is a negative connotation to them because one is supposed to gain IT knowledge through classroom experience, however braindumps alleviate that need for official training. 

Knowing that this exists, I wonder if students or just students in jeopardy will become hip to the previously mentioned IT trend of retrieving large relevant chunks of information in preparation for these high-stake assessments. With the stress of passing the test, is this what high-stake assessment vendors push on teachers to push on students to make the grade?

Your thoughts please…


This week as I started watching the beginning of the fourth season of The Wire, I can’t help but to reflect on…

1. My first year of teaching in Baltimore City with real chalkboards and san air conditioning & technology (including calculators).

2. I remember back  in 2002 when Mayor O’ Reilly kicked off the Baltimore Believe campaign to lift the spirits of the citizens.

Funny as we go into battle training mode for high-stakes testing, we need to BELIEVE that our students can and will achieve. Also, first year teachers at this time are probably making career decisions based on their experiences from the past eight months. They too must continue to BELIEVE in themselves that they also are important in their craft in making valuable contributions to our children; and are valued for what they do.

Writing Ideas: Super Heros!

Yes… I am a math teacher. However, students must be able to communicate when using numbers. Since reading and writing are important elements of communication, I should give students the opportunity to use these skills in my classroom; especially now high stake assessments in math are less computation and more application and performance-based.

So, I will always talk about writing and reading in addition to math activites on my blog. I ran into this really cool website that maybe more geared to middle schoolers.ty-tyn

With this website, I would use it to challenge my students to create a NEW super hero and write a story, word problem, or narrative chain involving their creation!

If you have any ideas on how to use this website in the classroom, please let me know!

Finally! Some Very Valuable Training!

I hate to say it. As educators, we go to a plethora of trainings, workshops, meetings, sessions, conferences, seminars, etc… where we struggle to stay awake and learn as we expect our students.

However today I received access and training on a web-based product by SAS® called EVAAS™ (Education Value-Added Assessment System).  I learned that this tool has the capability to target students providing projected scores on our state’s high stakes testing instrument called the EOG (End-Of-Grade) assessment for the elementary & middle schools and EOC (End-Of-Course) assessment for high schools.

NC DPI provides additional information about EVAAS here on their website.