Friday, February 19, 2016

No Surprise

Last school year, I spent a lot of time with the teachers in our grade 3/4 building helping them familiarize their students with the PARCC test interface they would be encountering. The kids were so great (the teachers, too) -- they tried every single tool they could in the PARCC tutorials. We showed the kids how to navigate the PARCC test; we had the kids work on it while we modeled it; we has the kids try it on their own at their own pace; we had the kids try it on their own in a timed situation to simulate what the PARCC test would be like. We answered their questions over and over and over again. And so many of our kids worked so hard on their actual PARCC testing days. But that doesn't mean all the preparation we tried to give the kids worked flawlessly.

It was in the forefront of all of the teachers' minds that in the actual testing situation, we would be unable to answer any questions the kids had about how to navigate through the testing site. That meant that if a kid forgot how to go to the next page, teachers were not allowed to tell the student how to do that. Conceivably, a student could waste a meaningful amount of time just trying to determine how to go to the next page.

This made me really mad. Because it was grossly unfair. I worried that the kids taking the online version of the test could be at a disadvantage to the kids who were taking the paper/pencil version of the test. After all, those kids wouldn't waste any time trying to figure out how to go to the next page of the test.

I tried to convince myself I was being paranoid. I told myself I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I assured myself that the teachers had prepped their kids so well that it would be silly to think the kids would be at a disadvantage.

And then I read this.