MCAS…The Front Lines of Standardized Testing with a Father and Daughter
by Samuel Sennott
MCAS….hearing that word ring out after being outside of Massachusetts for a year definitely made me feel funny this evening. Whatever word you have for the standardized testing movement, MCAS, FCAT, or SAT even, many students, families, and teachers all are connected by this concept. I was forwarded this video about a girl from Brookline and her father. They tell the story of many in their simple question, “Why do we have to do this?”
After three years of creating electronic based alternate assessment portfolios on many students, I found myself asking the same questions. While I believe in portfolio assessment systems, my main qualm with the MCAS was that my students and I worked tirelessly for 180 days plus our summer camps. We worked super hard on AAC, literacy, and content area subjects, while still having an inclusion based program. Projects worked on were being nationally recognized. Everyone was growing in so many areas! While they nearly all passed with flying colors, when the results were reported back to score in the district, every student received a failing grade for the district because we were mainly working on access and content entry points.
While at the time, this was not our battle to choose, we considered a boycott. Yet, after many heated discussions with friends, colleagues, and families I have come to believe that it is inappropriate in 2008 for any educator to complain about alternate assessment without offering at least one clear component in the plan for the next generation of the assessment system. It is our responsibility as educators to create a system that works.
A substantial portion of my work on the subject will be released this fall. One of the main components that will be shared is an open source PowerPoint based flexible portfolio system that works.
For right now, my best advice regarding the alternate assessment systems is to get Stages, the alternate assessment framework and assessment software by Madalaine Pugliese and have fun with it. You can get some great data that is graphed for you and it has good accessibility features to accommodate a wide range of learners.
While it is important for us to speak about standardized assessments, it is very important that we are working on the solution. The seemingly simple, yet complex goal is to have a solution that can help drive instruction.
No comments yet.