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?