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sg1 poke

For your reading pleasure--unadulturated jargon

I was editing the article from the principal of my daughter's middle school and the Principal, bless her heart, was discussing the No Child Left Behind program and the resulting hoards of stupid testing that follows as day follows night. You can tell that I am not a particular fan of this program because of its unilateral (see just like Bush) approach to education. But here is what Maryland has done with the program--see if you can figure out all the acronyms and testing criteria. There will be a test later.

Maryland School Assessment Testing

Recently, we received the school results from the spring administration of the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) Test. The test was administered to 8th grade students. Parents will receive information regarding their child’s individual results by the end of October. The goal of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 is to have 100 percent of students proficient in reading and mathematics by the year 2014. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is the gain that must be made each year in reading and mathematics proficiency toward the 2014 goal. AYP also requires 95 percent student participation in testing and one additional academic indicator. The Maryland Department of Education has determined that school attendance will be used as the additional indicator. Last year the 8th grade was tested. In 2004, grades 6-8 will be tested in early February, although only 8th grade results will be counted towards meeting AYP. Scores for the 6th and 7th graders will be used as baseline data for the 2005 targets. Special education students pursuing Fundamental Life Skills curriculum outcomes are exempt from the MSA. However, these students must participate in the Alternate MSA (Alt-MSA). The Alt-MSA replaces the Independence Mastery Assessment Program (IMAP). Maryland uses scores from the criterion-referenced tests (CRT) of the MSA and the Alt-MSA to determine proficiency in reading and mathematics. CRT items provide a score expressed as Basic, Proficient, or Advanced to describe how well students have mastered reading and mathematics content specified in the Maryland Content Standards. In 2003, student proficiency in math was set at 19% and 43% in reading for all students and within all subgroups. We are very pleased that Hoover’s scores significantly exceeded this target. Hoover’s proficiency percent in math is 90.91 and 90.66 in reading. Below is a chart of Hoover’s scores in each of the proficiency categories:

Advanced Proficient Basic
Math 52.1% 37.5% 10.4%
Reading 64.9% 24.9% 10.4%

I encourage you to review additional information regarding the MSA and Hoover data by visiting the Maryland State Department of Education website http://www.mdreportcard.org/.

Is this any way to run a country?


No Child Left Behind is absurd on so many levels, not just because they don't have the money to fund most of it anyway.

I can do the acronyms, but here's a few more for you. Virginia's Standards, upon which their state tests are based, are called the Standards of Learning (abbreviated, as is everything in education to an acronym) and Alaska's are simply the Alaska State Standards.

I write about education for a living, and it's so all about the acronyms and abbreviations:)
Thassalia, you have anthropology listed in your interests--what field. I have an MA in cultural anthropology--ethnohistory of Yucatan Maya. I've been meaning to ask you.

I understand the silly acronyms, I just can't believe the industry that has grown up behind this stupid bill--we test the hell out of schools and penalize them when their special ed students can't pass tests that weren't written for them and then can't come up with the money to bring these children up to the level we expect them to reach.

Yes, I am frustrated. My daughter is GT/LD and suffers under this program that stresses numbers and statistics rather than children.

My BA is in cultural anthropology with a focus on Urban Greek Studies. Then I went to grad school for archaeology. But I left after a year. (I actually have the most liberal arts degree ever - I have a double major in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing and Cultural Anthropology with a Core (which is like a focus but not quite a major) in Classical Civilizations). Out of college for seven years, and it still makes me giggle.

The education "reform" is infinitely frustrating for so many parents, and their children. And the states are supposed to be developing alternate assessments that are more tailored for students in special education. NCLB reads like reform and plays out like, as you said, a unilateral solution that does more harm than good.
Hey, a fellow liberal arts person--and a generation X'er at that--most of you guys are very practical. I had a double-major in History and cultural anthropology. I went into technical writing and desktop publishing. I'm out of school almost 25 years and I can't giggle, I miss the anthropology too much. sigh.

I spend my time writing computer books and trying to get into web content management. I'd love to talk more about this education stuff--it fascinates me as a parent and because it is so stupid intellectually.

Love your new story by the way.

I miss the anthropology as well. Actually, I miss academia in general, although I do love writing full time. Even if it is about education. Part of why I didn't pursue Cultural Anthro after college was a sense of dis -ease after I did my field work. I felt like I was intruding on the people I was working with, wanted to be a post-modernist which was passe by the time I got to the field.

Hey, a fellow liberal arts person--and a generation X'er at that--most of you guys are very practical

Best advice/statement of fact that I ever got from my father "I'm not sending you to college to get a job, I'm sending you to college to get an education." I think I was lucky. He never bugged me about a major, about being practical, just wanted to know what I was studying, what I was learning, how it made me think.
Best advice/statement of fact that I ever got from my father "I'm not sending you to college to get a job, I'm sending you to college to get an education." I think I was lucky. He never bugged me about a major, about being practical, just wanted to know what I was studying, what I was learning, how it made me think.

Your father gave you exactly the same advice mine did in almost the same wording! I think that was the best advice he ever gave me--other than to be myself and not let the turkeys get me down. lol I think I wouldn't have had the guts to write for a living either if it wasn't for that education-I too can think. That is what I am telling my children too.

sort of like John--If something does something nice for you, pass it on.

thanks for responding. By the way, your experience as like mine in the field--I was deeply unsettled by working in Mayan villages on synchrotistic religions. Also Marxism was a big deal in 1976 and I was a psychological studies person--didn't find a home at U. WI radicalism. So I left and worked for the smithsonian for a while. Then lost grant--went into computers

Acronyms, testing, and test scores, oh my!

As a special ed teacher, I can speak in acronyms for two minutes straight (not that anyone outside the field would understand a damn thing I said, and some inside the field as well). And I have to say that NCLB isn't worthy of being toilet paper. Standardized testing means, by definition, that the testing will be normed on a student population, ensuring that performance will be divided into quartiles. There's always a bottom percentage with standardized testing. Any time there's ranking involved, there's always someone on the bottom. And what the heck does it all mean?

As far as education goes, the reality of NCLB and the penalties imposed by the increased testing has resulted in a narrow focus on the standards. If a topic is not specifically on the standards, it's cut from the curriculum, no matter how worthwhile it is. Or it's shoved to a date AFTER the testing. The end result is a very narrow curriculum that doesn't allow for multidisciplinary tie-ins or even deep, meaningful learning.

And now I'll step off the soap box. As you can tell, this is a sore subject. Largely because it punishes kids, just as you observed in regards to your daughter. I hope she weathers the testing in good form.