Let's start with the online tests that the TN Department of Education is now claiming is working smoothly. Hmmm... Then why did the Questar backlog time increase over the weekend when no testing was happening? One tech-savvy school employee who needs to be anonymous to keep her job told us this:
"The time now given by Questar for the recovery of student data from a local machine is 72 hours. I get that they are swamped but if it takes intervention by an actual Questar technician to compare / apply the sent cache file, and if you have that many cache files sent, Questar should be adding staff to allow for timely processing. Do they really think asking a student to wait 72 hours to complete a test is acceptable? If their selling point is that the test can run without constant connection to the testing server (except for students requiring a read-aloud accommodation, of course), they must have a more efficient way to deal with recovery file processing. A student should not have to pause and come back at another time to finish (except in extreme cases that are well documented). That's not allowed on a paper test; it shouldn't be allowed on an online test. And by the way, if these problems were as limited as they are trying to make people believe in the media, why would the backlog be that deep? They are so quick to share stats on numbers of test sessions completed, let's see stats on the number of recovery files submitted and processed and how many of those recoveries were successful."
We heard that one school's online testing was so messed up that after their faculty meeting, all the teachers had to manually enter the recovery login and student login for all of their computers and students... over 900 machines. One frustrated teacher said, "It took forever!" Here's the kicker: Those tests they were trying to recover? Yep, you guessed it... teachers had to re-administer those tests to students again this week.
One mom sadly reported that her youngest child who has been sick with Crohns, and had to have part of his colon removed this year, still had to take the EOC. He missed 42 days of class and got an incomplete. But he still had to take the EOC!
One teacher who has to remain anonymous said the testing directions alone are a "huge cause for concern!! They are written poorly, have mistakes, and some of them make no sense.... If they can’t get the test directions right, there is no telling what the test is like!"
Pity the poor 5th graders in this school: "Yesterday, at least 75 fifth grade students only had five minutes to get and eat their lunch because they had issues administering the test."
We've received quite a few messages from parents who are getting push-back from opting-out/refusing. Homeschool parents, in particular, are really frustrated with this system. Having to bring their child to test, only to find out that the testing dates have been rescheduled due to the testing problems. Homeschool parents want to know how to opt-out of these unhelpful tests, too. Honestly, it is the same way as public school parents. You just refuse. We have a section on our website about Refusing. (Click the "Choose To Refuse" tab).
What's going on at the Capitol? I heard scores aren't going to count?
There is much misinformation going around, but here's what we understand to be the case: The conferencing committee between the House and Senate are working on a compromise. The Governor still has to sign it. Once approved and signed, your local public school boards will get to determine if the TNReady scores will be used on your child's report cards (so yes, that won't happen until after the testing is over). Unfortunately, the scores will still count for teachers. TnEdReport has a great analogy with fruit and pie that will help you understand the crazy way these tests are being used to evaluate teachers with a secret formula called TVAAS. We highly suggest you read that blog and follow Andy Spears for insightful, accurate education news.
Pardon our French. That just plain sucks. Those poor teachers seem to take all the blame and get no respect. Legislators are eager to go home, since legislative session is ending. This is throwing a bone to the loudest dog and escaping through the gate. Hey, it is tough being a legislator and working from January to April and earning about the same salary as a teacher does! If we sound passive-aggressive with that last comment, then you get our drift. We're fed up with politicians treating teachers poorly. We are hopeful that election-time will be a rude awakening for them.
So what can I do?
We generally end our blogs with a call to action. This week's action: VOTE.
Or even better: RUN for political office.
If you're not that brave: SUPPORT candidates who support public schools, students, and teachers.