K12NN will be posting experiences teachers have as they prepare their students for the SBAC or PARCC Common Core State Standards tests or actually administer them as testing season rolls out across the country. The SBAC and PARCC tests are to be administered by computer and they function as the end-of-year summative assessment for students. These stories, while anonymous, are from actual classroom teachers and are real people verified by K12NN. Their identities are not disclosed to protect them from any possible political repercussions in the workplace.
From a California Teacher (SBAC), part II (read part I here):
I just need to vent…as many of you know, I had ALL of my students take both the math AND language arts practice SBAC. You don’t need to read this lengthy missive; just humour me by letting me write it out.
Based on our experiences, we found that: 1) computer mice are a necessity as trackpad accuracy for drawing math sketches can be exceedingly difficult, 2) earbuds/headphones are a necessity because some of the questions are based on aural passages, 3) graph and lined paper (and pencils) should be provided as some of the problems/questions require students to write down info before they can answer. Since we did not have adequate tech resources, our school received 400 Chromebooks as well as additional servers.
We also received 1300 earbuds (brand-new, individually packaged to be given to students). Initially, I was told that the kids would NOT get the earbuds. After I told admin that they NEEDED them, they had office staff begin packaging them. I was told that each MATH teacher would have to label earbud bags for each child themselves. (Seriously? Granted, I did this because were were checking out the practice tests but to have math teachers, on the day of OPEN HOUSE, to do this?!) I volunteered to have one of my classes form an assembly line to do this and it was completed in under 20 minutes. (Although two of the math teachers had already been assigned the bags and supposedly, ‘did not complain about having to do the labeling.’)
The computer mice? Many of my kids had brought their own, from home, and put them with the earbuds in the labeled bags. I had all five of my classes’ baggies boxed up with all the needed ‘hardware,’ all ready for next week’s test. You may wonder why not ALL students brought mice. This is because some kids do not have computers at home. You may wonder why the school did not provide mice. Apparently, no one knew whether there WERE mice for the Chromebooks nor where they were stored if they indeed had them.
After several days, it was determined that there WERE enough mice, one per Chromebook, but they needed to be ‘found.’ Yes, we do have a dedicated tech person at our school but I won’t even go there! You would THINK that some form of appreciation would be given, as I helped iron out some potential problems BEFORE the actual testing begins, right? Ha! I am told that all of my boxes of bagged goodies had to be put in a secured location (Really?) and that it was too difficult for distribution purposes (I was going to take the boxes MYSELF on the testing days to the testing rooms).
Oh, and the mice would NOT be put back in the kids’ bags after the first testing day. There’s more on this but I will shut up here with regard to the bags of earbuds… I had several people contact me, concerned that no mention was made about kids bringing BOOKS to the testing room to read once they completed the test. I told them that the kids SHOULD bring books to read. Has anyone said this to the kids or teachers? No. And, yes, we are beginning our testing on MONDAY.
What’s going to happen to those kids who have IEPs stating that they are to have accommodations for tests? No mention has been made of what’s to happen. My suspicion is that the IEPs are going to be ignored. Two of my classes are scheduled to take the DISTRICT benchmark test this upcoming week. No mention has been made of re-scheduling the district test or if we are even administering it this week. Most of the testing rooms are not set up as classrooms.
To administer the SBAC, the testing teacher must log in and get a code to give the kids in order to begin the test. Have computers been placed in the testing rooms for the teachers to use? I don’t think so. We have EXACTLY 40 Chromebooks for each class to use which means that if there are 40 kids in a class, the teacher would have no way to access the internet in order to log in for the test. Has any mention been made for teachers to bring their own laptops in order to do the test? No. Am I frustrated? You betcha! ARGH. We have a weird modified schedule for testing week (two 2-hour blocks and two 45-minute blocks) with different classes each day. I won’t even go into what the schedule we were given looks like…it is confusing. I now have to plan for this schedule. Sigh…