Saturday, May 09, 2015

NYSESLAT Review Part 2--Awaiting the Rigging of the Scores

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I dispensed with all that "teaching" stuff and gave ELLs the NYSESLAT instead. It wasn't such a great test when it was one day, and kids would be routinely placed at incorrect levels, but now that it's three days instead it will be much better, depending upon what you mean by "better." In my school, it's actually seven lost days of instruction because of the extended time we need for the speaking test. But now that NY State has cut English language instruction in half, what's seven fewer days?

It's a well-known fact that more time learning is actually not useful unless you're using it to bash teacher unions for being recalcitrant, fighting all earnest efforts to achieve the goal of more work for less pay. If the lost time is devoted to standardized testing, well, then it's Mom, apple pie, and saluting the American flag.

And what a test it is, folks. Yesterday, a young man asked me why the essay specifically called for an introduction, body, and conclusion but only two paragraphs. This was the same young man who, the first day of the test, asked why the students had to stay until the bell rang if they had already finished their tests. Why do we have to sit here and do nothing? And why do they require a basic structure that demands three paragraphs and then ask for two?

I'm not at all sure that particular student is in need of Common Core. He's critical all by himself without it. Oddly, folks like Arne Duncan and John King get pretty churlish when people question the Core. They attack soccer moms and call teachers, parents and students "special interests." Those who spend billions imposing their will on our children, of course, are philanthropists, heroes to be lauded on test passages.

The second day, I stopped the CD because the listening activity was identical to that of the first day. It turned out that the geniuses at NYSED, or whoever they paid to design this thing, decided to repeat the same sample question three days in a row. I'm sure the students were as inspired as I was by that bold move, once I figured out it was not, in fact, yet another error.  On part one of this review, a commenter offered:

The Speaking Subtest was just the tip of the iceberg. This new CCLS-aligned NYSESLAT is the worst sort of rubbish: inappropriate, riddled with errors, and designed for failure. The CCLS cancer is spreading, my friends. Take heed.

Sounds ominous, but I'm not persuaded. I have no idea whatsoever what the NYSESLAT was designed for. Certainly it was an effective device in torturing beginning students. I watched a girl from El Salvador who's been here maybe six weeks suffer through it for no good reason. She's a rank beginner who will likely need to start from the beginning in September, and I don't need a three day test to tell me that.

But I have no idea what the test will say about her or anyone You see, after we grade the test at the school, we have to send it to Albany for the next part, The Rigging of the Scores. That's when Albany decides which percentage of kids should be at which level, and sets the cut scores so whatever they predict comes true. After all, how can you be all-knowing unless you force your predictions on the entire populous? There are reputations to protect, and now that you've cut English learning in half, there's gonna be a lot less of it anyway.

And that's just fine because once they rig the test scores they can get to the real work of firing all the teachers who've failed to make double the progress in half the time based on a test that doesn't even measure what these kids are supposed to be learning.
blog comments powered by Disqus