"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do it really matter?

ISTEP+ is moving to the spring!

The Indiana Department of Education is trying to put a happy face on the fact that we're torturing kids with two sets of ISTEP+ tests this year. Three weeks of test-prep plus a week of testing in the fall is not enough for our lawmakers. This year, while we're making the switch from Fall to Spring testing, we get to waste more days with this exercise in inept and abusive pedagogy.

In Friday's email, our corporation test coordinator informed all the building level test coordinators that there is an Indiana Department of Education Web Site with samples for our teachers to use to help "prepare" our kids for the Spring testing. I went to investigate and found the following...

Item Samplers

The Item Samplers on this website provide information about ISTEP+ for students, parents, educators, and others. The items in each sampler are examples of the types of items found on ISTEP+. These examples can serve as models when teachers are constructing items for classroom assessment. It should be noted that the samplers are not practice tests.

Sample test items and scoring rubrics are included in the Item Samplers. The items are samples only and not actual items. The samples are representative of the types of items that appear on ISTEP+.

The first Item Sampler I looked at was titled "Sample Items Grades 3-5" and was posted on December 2, 2008.

On page 2 of this publication, there is an inane little story called “Mei-Win’s Blue Beads” about a little girl's first day at a new school...her fears about finding friends...and how her Grandmother's necklace of blue beads helps her meet the children in her new class.

It' s typical ISTEP stuff...story followed by questions. The very first question, though, presents a problem. It's grammatically incorrect. Is the student supposed to answer the question or correct it?
"How does Mrs. Jackson and the other students in the class show kindness towards
Mei-Win? Use details from the story to support your answer."
I always thought that subject and verb should agree, right? If we substitute the pronoun "they" for the subject, Mrs. Jackson and the other students, the question would read, "How does they show kindness..."

We can give the DOE the benefit of the doubt and assume that it just slipped by...a typo...perhaps it started out as "How does Mrs. Jackson show kindness..." and after editing someone forgot to change the does to do.

I know that it's too much to hope that we would stop misusing these stupid tests year after year...but perhaps there's still time to have someone proofread the tests for this sort of error so that our students aren't subjected to poor teaching by the Indiana DOE in addition to poor testing.

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3 comments:

Ellen said...

I'm lol at the title of this post, and the question that inspired it. . . I'm guessing they let W. write the questions this year!

Meg said...

I doesn't get what you be talking about. Seem like good Hoosier talk to I.

kate said...

I'm still awestruck over this one!