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And So It Begins: Project 180, Day 136

Well, here we go. The kids will embark on their standardized testing journeys today. For English Language Arts (ELA), they take two tests: the performance task (PT) and the computer adaptive test (CAT). Their combined score on each will determine if they meet standard in order to graduate. If they don’t pass the first time, they have additional opportunities to pass the test over the next two years. And while I know with great certainty that all will eventually pass, it is my earnest hope that each meets standard the first time. One and done. But, sadly, for a small handful of kids, this will not be the case.

Not all of my kids will pass the first time around. And while the reasons will vary, I could almost predict who those kids will be. For most of the few, it will be those who did not earnestly embrace the growth opportunities before them this year. And while my critics might point to my approach (no grades) as the contributing factor, I would point, in turn, that the same scenario played out last year–with grades. 92% of my kids passed the first time last year. I expect a similar number this year. Oh, I hope for a 100%, but it’s unlikely. There are a lot of factors, of course, but in the end, I think it simply comes down to it may not be the right time for them. They may not be ready.  And so, then, it becomes a question of why? And for that, there are no easy answers. Yes, I own a great deal of that responsibility, but ownership becomes a tricky equation. It becomes a matter of, “Where does it start? Where does it end?” If I have to own the lowest, then I have to own the highest–and all points in between. And as those scores are tallied and weighed, what do they really mean in the end? If most of my kids pass, do I succeed? If some of my kids don’t pass, do I fail? How much of this year factors into their success? How much do past years factor into their success? Is a kid who passes this year, really that much smarter than the kid who passes next, or is it a matter of timing and readiness?  So many questions, not enough answers. And yet many turn to standardized testing results as that which definitively determines success in schools.  We tend to put a lot of stock in the results. But I wonder if we really know what we are investing in.

And so, we begin. At least the kids are given the time they need to do their best. It is not a timed test. At least that stress element is not a factor. Last year it took the majority of kids seven days to complete the test. Seven days of lost contact and instructional time. Not sure the benefits are worth the cost. Not sure at all.

Happy Monday, all.

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