Monday, May 5, 2008

It's a good thing Pluto was demoted!

WARNING: Grumpy Blogger Alert!

I'll tell you what, it was a good thing Pluto was demoted as one of the nine planets because I won't have time to teach about it because of the mandated MCA tests (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment). The Science MCA is a computer-based test and is spread out over two class periods. While I am being dramatic, the amount of time spent gearing up the MCA tests results in less time for just about everything else. I lost seven 88 minute classes this year because of the MCA. I thought I would just bullet a few of the frustrations.

  • Ummmm.... I lost seven 88 minute classes this year because of the MCA.
  • The tests need to be cached. This means that before the test is given it is grabbed from the testing site and put onto the district server. This can take over an hour. While you can plan ahead the success of the testing should not fall on an overworked tech support person to show up on Monday at 5 am.
  • The technology support people have the worst computer to tech support ratio in the business. These poor people have to maintain computers for users that by their nature want to pluck out keys and wallpaper the desktops. I heard someone say that this should have been done on Sunday. I disagree.
  • Our school gave students water and mints for the Reading and Math MCA. I think this is a good idea other than the huge volume of plastic bottles in the garbage. For the computer-based MCA the students didn't get the same treatment because water and computers don't mix.
  • I was told that Monday was a bad day for testing because so many schools are doing the test on Monday. Well, Friday was a field trip and there is something else on Tuesday and Thursday is a bad day too. There are no good days for these things but the point is that if you are going to do it then it has to work. If you can blame it on a Monday, you should question whether you should be giving it at all.
  • Our school has done a great job of preparing kids to write constructed responses. Not that it is always done well, but there has been a school-wide effort to focus on writing skills. There have been a number of students over the course of the MCA who have not been able to type a full answer for a constructed response because there is a limit on characters. I feel like they should let you know there is a limit like on those online customer comment forms. I also feel like the students should be able to write at least two sentence before being limited. Who knows, maybe it is a computer issue....
  • Luckily we have decent computers. Can you imagine the chaos of a school where there are 36 in class with 27 working computers.
  • Insert your frustration here!
Does what happened today in Lab 611 determines whether my kids learned this year? I sure hope my kids got all those fossil questions right because I cut that unit as a result of losing so many classes to the MCA's (this is just an example...I did sign the non-disclosure form).