Tuesday, February 27, 2007

4th and 10

....do we go for a first down or do we punt the student? If it's the week before the TAKS test (The Texas high stakes test, which the Shrub has now unleashed on the rest of the country) you punt. Actually we didn't punt, two other schools did. Parts of the district I'm in have very high mobility. An apartment complex offers a $99 move-in and there is a mass migration from one school to another. Three months later another counters with a $100 move in and there is another migration.

The day before the TAKS test two new families enrolled. Both came from within our district. The TAKS rules are such that if a student is not enrolled at your school on the day the test is given then his / her scores don't factor into your schools overall scores. They also don't factor into the school he/ she enrolls, these scores go into a general district "pot". There are many, many parts and sub parts to this rule and other rules if the student changes districts - the IRS are a brief novella when it comes to the TAKS test rules.

However, if a student is one that will pass the test and pass it well the school will move heaven and earth to keep that student in their seat come TAKS test day. The students are pre-tested and benchmark tested till they bubble in circles in their sleep so the school has a good idea of who will pass and who won't. It's to the benefit of the child too - imagine being 8 years old and having to cope with a major test and a new school all on the same day. A conscientious parent will work with the school to ensure their child has a good test taking experience (if there is such a thing) and won't move their children till after TAKS test day.

So, when the two families arrived we knew it wasn't going to be pretty. There was no need to look in the PR folder, talk to the parents or glance at the report cards. The students were not going to be a credit to their former school. In fact, their former school , once the withdrawal papers were drawn up most likely found it difficult to contain their Happy Dance till the doors closed behind them.

And we were right. One is reading 2 years below grade level, the other has yet to make it through the day without ear screeching tantrums and angry outbursts.

At least their scores won't count against us either!


ms. whatsit said...

Our high stakes test works similarly with regards to the transient kids. It's a shame that the rules of NCLB are meant to impact the schools negatively in situations like this. It's a shame that kids from lower socio-economic situations are reduced to being wanted or not simply because we can predict how they might perform on these tests.

Nancy said...

I have disliked the state mandated tests (the TAAS-used-to-be and the TAKS now)that seem to define the school year now.

Everything is "before TAKS" and "During TAAKS" and "After TAKS"(--with no rebate yet!)

AND the kids become...product, instead of Person.