Monday, March 2, 2009

Data Driven Instruction...Or Not

When not teaching ELA (or, perhaps more appropriately, teaching students how to pass the ELA exam), I also teach social studies. Yes, out of license. Yes, more than five periods a week. You'll have this. ANYWAY.

Last year, I administered and scored the New York State Grade 8 Social Studies Exam, like every other 8th grade social studies teacher in New York. I figured sometime in the fall I'd get a paperclipped pile of printouts explaining how my students did, and decided, reasonably, that I would be able to use those results to improve my preparation for my kids this year. This is what the DOE wants us to do...right?

Well, there's just one teeny, tiny snafu: Approximately nine full months after the administration of said exam, I have never received the scores. The testing coordinator at my school knows nothing about it. ARIS--yes, ARIS! the manna from heaven! the solution to all our problems! the 80 MILLION DOLLAR SOLUTION TO WHAT AILS US, OUR STUDENTS, AND ALL NYC SCHOOLS--offers me nothing. Would it not be wise, one might ask, to allow teachers to access past years' test results for past students? What exactly might we do with this admittedly sensitive information other than, gee, I don't know, IMPROVE OUR INSTRUCTION?

Apparently not. Apparently ARIS was SO EXPENSIVE and SO AMAZING that we couldn't afford to include past years' test results.

I am looking at ARIS one more time, just to make sure I'm not totally nuts, as I write this.



So what now?

Thanks, St. Eulalia!

I spent most of my Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday morning hanging with your friend and mine, NYC Educator, at his blog, complaining about the weather and the handwringing of the DOE. Of course, they eventually did the right thing by closing the schools, at which point I promptly returned to my warm bed (having gotten up at 5:30 because, you know, I thought I was going to have to work because the DOE can't make up its mind the night before like normal school districts, even when there is a foot of snow VERY CLEARLY on its way).

I celebrated by sleeping late, cooking a big breakfast, and watching some telly. Now I am going to clean out my "office," a spare room in my apartment that ostensibly holds a desk and some bookshelves and things but has lately been overrun with laundry, mail, and the like. Happy Snow Day! (And thank Saint Eulalia!)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pray to St. Eulalia of Merida...

...for she is the patron saint of SNOW!