Momma bears, I just read your post which highlighted anonymous teacher and parent comments, and I felt relieved. Please find a way to add this complaint to your great list:
We are not supposed to look at the test (LOL since we constantly circulate and are told to ensure students are taking it correctly), and this is extremely ridiculous: on the ELA part 1 essay, the students had several pages of texts to read before they saw the prompt. The wording was so vague at the beginning that several had no idea what they were doing. They asked what they were supposed to do, and I couldn't even tell them that the prompt was at the very end. In my opinion, this is intellectual bullying. A 4th or 5th or 6th grade student should not have to read so much before they have a clue what to do with it. Simply stating the prompt at the beginning would give them a needed purpose for the arduous reading, and it would allow them to write to the prompt. Many, I think, wrote about each text before they ever knew the actual "writing task", which is a big shift in terminology. If we want to see how well our students can WRITE, why not put the "task" at the beginning? Why not set them up for success while still getting an accurate picture of their ability to write about the texts? Test taking savvyness shouldn't be a measure. RIDICULOUS. INTELLECTUAL BULLYING!
I have 5th grade and we took the ELA tests. There were THREE passages for the kids to read for their first essay. The TN Blueprint, once again, has it wrong. It clearly states that kids in grades 3-5 will only read TWO passages. We never practiced with 3.
Sorry but out of fear for our jobs, we (the teachers) cannot disclose our names. We've been threatened not to speak or post anything on FB. The middle school test did NOT match what we were instructed to teach our kids. They were to write an argumentative essay & that was NOT even given on either of the Part 1 or Part 2 test. How can our students trust us when we tell them that this is what we're preparing them for then they're tested on a narrative? Really, a narrative??? We're told that we must teach rigor. Making up a story is rigorous?
The high school Algebra II test was ridiculous. My students said the majority of the test was constructed response and they had no idea where to begin or what the questions were asking. I would love to show my classes your "For Students" page, but I'm afraid I'd really get in trouble.
1. ELA computer tests showed the reading selections simultaneously on the same screen as the writing prompt. On the written test, the writing prompt came after the reading selections so that students, who have been trained to read questions and prompts first (as deemed best teaching practices by various research-based professional development sessions offered by local and state entities), were confused on what was being asked of them. Having proctored more than one grade-level, I was asked by nearly every student tested, "What do they want me to do?" I had to flip to the page containing the prompt, and tell then to read it first.
2. Because there were so many questions concerning the prompts, I was able to notice that one test asked kids to "write a magazine article" in response to the reading. Every single practice question on the MICA and MIST sites asked students to write an essay.
3. Rather than read literature and analyze it, our kids are being asked to analyze concepts that they may have, or may not have, been exposed to in life. They are given anywhere from one to three pieces of writing related to the concept, and they are having to draw from those pieces. Students from certain backgrounds, who have not been exposed to these concepts, would have to basically write the entirety of their essays by paraphrasing the articles. Sure, some may be able to "bs" their way through it, but most would not do well with formulating an essay that required some outside knowledge of a concept coupled with the reading selections to compose a well-written, well-thought out essay. What 7th grader is going to know or understand the "Value of Cooperative Play" unless he/she has been reading parenting magazines in his/her spare time? The reason I am even aware that this was part of a prompt is because most testers asked me the meaning of it. Even with the reading selections given for this prompt, some prior knowledge of the concept would have to have been given for a child to create well-thought out responses
I am a 35 year veteran teacher. I have been a level 5 teacher for years, and will now see my level and the level of my students possibly plummet. I urge you to go on the site for state standards and look at the massive amount of standards we must cover by February. The social studies standards are pages and pages of info that must be taught by testing dates in February. I do not know many parents, legislators, or teachers that could master a test over these standards.
I'm a middle school librarian. Our ELA teachers said that they were told repeatedly during summer trainings by the state that there would be no narrative essays, so they didn't practice those with their students. In two separate testing settings, students asked out loud, what's a narrative? The teachers DID NOT look at the test. They only way they knew was because the students were distraught and were panicking.
I am a teacher whose district started testing this past week. After the group of students I tested where through with Math, I administered the survey. I was very upset by the last question. It basically stated:
How did you find this test?
A. Harder than the math tests I take at my school.
B. Easier than the math tests I take at school.
C. About the same as the math tests I take at my school.
D. It is difficult for me to answer because it was harder than the math tests at my school.
This leads me to believe that the state is preparing to blame the schools for not preparing the students properly, which is inaccurate.
The look of defeat on the students faces broke my heart and almost made me cry (I had to look away several times so I wouldn't cry). I was doing my best to reassure them, but I could tell it didn't work. The fact that we have two more days of testing left and then another testing period in April is disheartening. The fact that the State said part 1 counts 20% and part 2 counts 80% of the students grade is just wrong, especially after saying it wouldn't count.
When is enough enough?
***Please do not use my name, I do love to teach and work with my students, but I fear using my name could affect me negatively.
I was surprised to see survey questions on these tests. I thought parents had to be notified before students could be given surveys? The questions asked students about their writing habits, their opinions about the TNReady test, and about their school. Don't parents have to give permission before students are given surveys? Where is all that information going?
Response from Momma Bears: Yes, dear teacher, you are correct. Tenn. Code Annotated 49-2-211 says this:
The TNReady test is so far from acceptable that I may just have to lose my job. My class took the TNReady test on Monday before the computers crashed. The computers were working fine, but the test was awful. My students were having meltdowns. One of my straight-A students was hitting himself in the head, pulling his hair, crying, and saying "this is too hard!" I couldn't help but look at the test. I am horrified. I am broken-hearted.
There was only 1 question on this third grade Social Studies TNReady test, and it was to write an essay. They had to tab between two different reading passages, and write an essay (with their little fingers hunting and pecking for letters on the keyboard because they don't know how to type yet, nor are their hands big enough to type properly), and they had to be sure to cite evidence from the text (that means "copy" to third graders). But the material was about the Oregon Trail, which is a fourth grade standard!!! Third grade Social Studies standards cover world geography, not the settlement of America! The Westward Expansion isn't covered until 4th grade (TN Social Studies Standard 4.48). You can look at the standards yourself and see:
Third grade standards: https://tn.gov/assets/entities/education/attachments/std_ss_gr_3.pdf
Fourth grade standards: https://tn.gov/assets/entities/education/attachments/std_ss_gr_4.pdf
My students had no idea what the Oregon Trail was. They had no clue what old-fashioned words like "lo" meant, especially the students who speak English as a second language. Even worse, the standard to read and compare a primary and secondary source is a SIXTH grade standard, not a third grade one! This was the very first question on the TNReady Part I Social Studies test and my students all felt like failures.
Even worse, the system apparently crashed, but we weren't notified about it until after our testing time was completed. So, my broken-hearted students had to take the same test AGAIN this week! It was on paper and pencil, this time, but it was the exact same passages and essay question they had on the first computer test. How fair is that to other students?
On my personal Facebook page, I posted a link about Representative Stewart opting his child out of the test. My principal told me I should not state my opinion on social media.
Thank you for speaking the truth about this awful testing. I am an elementary school teacher and your blog is talked about frequently in my school. You are saying so many things that teachers are afraid to say for fear of losing their jobs. Please keep up the good fight. I am willing to speak anonymously.
Readers, you should realize that teachers are risking their jobs telling us all this. Before they administered the test, teachers and proctors had to sign an agreement saying they wouldn't look at the test or talk about it. There's even a law about it:
Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) 49-1-607 states: Any person found to have not followed security guidelines for administration of the TCAP test, or successor test, including making or distributing unauthorized copies of the test, altering a grade or answer sheet, providing copies of answers or test questions, or otherwise compromising the integrity of the testing process, shall be placed on immediate suspension, and such actions will be grounds for dismissal, including dismissal of tenured employees. Such actions shall be grounds for revocation of state license. [Acts 1992, ch. 535, 4.]
Are teachers "compromising the integrity of the test"? Well, Momma Bears question if the test has any "integrity" to compromise in the first place!!! This test is full of flaws, makes children cry, and has no value in helping our children or schools. Results, which are projected to be much lower than past TCAP tests, aren't even supposed to be back until the fall when students are well into the next grade level!
Honestly, these teachers should be called heroes!
These courageous teachers are whistle-blowers, speaking truth about an injustice affecting innocent children who are powerless to do anything about it.
We are grateful to a news station in Nashville for covering TNReady Opt-Outs. And we're ecstatic about this news coverage of a school in Chattanooga that had 41% of parents opt their kids out of TNReady! Parents are coming to realize that these tests are far too secretive, and far too powerful. Parents must do something about it because teachers can't.
We Momma Bears never signed any confidentiality agreement, and you can't take away our parenting licenses, so we will continue to expose this harmful, abusive testing for the monster that it is. We will keep informing and empowering people to do something about it:
Want to refuse the tests for your children?
Click HERE for step-by-step instructions.
Want to do something about it?
Contact Governor Haslam.
Phone: (615) 741-2001
(And click HERE to find your legislators to contact them, too!)