Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Boys with Guns

Something I've been wanting to post for a while: over Memorial Day weekend, we went camping with a couple of other families and I looked over one afternoon after a hike and a swim, and saw this:

Friday, June 11, 2010

STAR tests and kids as pawns

I met with Ms. A, the school principal, about STAR tests (taken in every grade above 1st) and their significance at our little school. What I learned:
  • No one gets any money from anyone except for the schools who fail to meet their API benchmarks; they get money from the state earmarked for special programs, etc. 
  • No one loses anything, per se, for poor performance or poor attendance. If fewer than 85% of a school's students take the test, the school's API is considered invalid, and is published with an asterisk or whatever that denotes its, uh, invalidity due to low numbers of test takers.
  • Our school district has, indeed, analyzed some STAR test results (well, probably only because the scores fell, now that I think about it), and changed the math curricula as a result. Drill-based to conceptual. If 8th grade math scores hadn't been lower than expected, I wonder if the district would have taken the time to analyze anything.
  • Ms. A takes those tests pretty seriously, and I don't think she'd be on board for a mass boycott.
The entire test series takes about 10 hours to complete--our school breaks it up into 70 minute segments 4 to 5 days a week for two weeks. So if I have TZ opt out next year, what will he do for those 70 minutes? Read? Do busy work? I need to find out what the alternatives at school are. Or we could just take a two-week vacation. In that case, do I announce my motives or just "coincidentally" schedule a trip? Do I recruit people to the cause? What is the cause?

The other big question is this: Is it fair to TZ to "make" him not take the tests because of my convictions about them (though I doubt he'll object)? Will it make us the "bad" family, and will TZ (and later, K) have to pay for it somehow? Like, if there's an issue with a teacher or a kid or whatever, will Ms. A be less helpful to the boys because I'm a troublemaker?

What do you think, dear readers?