Dear Momma Bears:
I recently learned that my busy high schooler was forced to use class time to take an on-line test called Discovery Education Assessment (DEA). I had to hear this news from my child because the school did not send home any notice or information about the assessment. While driving home, I got an earful of frustration and complaints about a test already administered twice this year. Now for the third time, an entire class period was wasted on a meaningless assessment that apparently does nothing for the student. It does not affect their grades or prepare them for the ACT or SAT.
It was particularly disconcerting to hear my child complain about questions on how to clean laundry stains and Beyonce. After we got home and I took my blood pressure medicine, we had a long talk about what was going on in school.
My child has a full load of honors level classes, stays up late studying, and gets up early to be at school by 7:00am. In education, the time is short but the road is long--lots to learn and not enough time. Every minute spent on meaningless assessments is cheating our children out of the education they need to make it in this world. And it every minute spent on homework to make up for that class time cheats my wife and I out of time we could spend with our child. High school flies by, blink your eyes and it's gone.
So, what kind of test is so important to poach on precious high school class time? According to my irritated child, it's a bunch of stupid questions about some stupid articles on stupid things like how to remove grass stains, hybrid cars, water conservation tips as well as a smattering of literary excerpts. As an English major, it pains me to see such little regard given to literature where only excerpts are used and not the entire text. I am concerned as to who actually selected the passages contained therein and whether or not the author of the test was qualified to draft the questions. And given that my child is enrolled in an honors level English class, it leaves me bewildered as to why passages such as removing grass stains and Beyonce were used to assess my child's reading comprehension skills. There was certainly little, if any, time spent testing the use of literary devices or probing the student's ability to think in the abstract.
To bring this full circle, I am disgusted by this waste of my child's instructional time. This test has nothing to do with furthering my child's education and only functions as an impediment to my child's education. It leads me to suspect ulterior motives behind this test. Is someone conducting marketing research? Why else would they want to know if laundry instructions were easily understood by the reader? Let the marketing teams do their own testing on their own time and stop leaning on my children's teachers to proctor such non-productive tests.
An Upset Poppa Bear
Poppa Bear is also right about DEA being of little value to students. According to one review, "High school course-specific assessments are also available, as well as a large bank of test items for creating customized district assessments. These are not diagnostic assessments. Reports show students performance in benchmark categories which are very general only covers the grade level of the student so it does not provide any out-of-grade testing. If schools want to use this to guide differentiated instruction, it would not be sufficient. Nor would it be sufficient to really help a classroom teacher. Teachers would/should already know their students' general strengths or weaknesses so the reports' summative information wouldn't be that helpful."
The Discovery Education Assessment that this Poppa Bear was talking about: