Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for February 21, 2007

...really, really late news.

Did you hear the one about...late test scores?

Ho, hum...boring!

They just need to fuggitaboutit!

From the Chicago Sun-Times...

(Another one of "Ron's Rants" follows this article at no extra charge!)

State again delays release of test scores

BY ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter

The release of Illinois' 2006 school test scores -- already latest in the nation -- is being pushed back yet again, meaning kids could well be taking this year's tests before they even get last year's results.

That was the word Friday from the Illinois State Board of Education, which has been battling waves of problems in reporting the results of tests taken last March and required by federal law.

State officials conceded yet another glitch, this time in matching up two days of high school test results with the right 1,700 high school kids.

Past problems had forced ISBE officials to postpone the release of school report cards -- officially due Oct. 31 -- until March 6. The latest snafu extends that deadline indefinitely.

Using old results

Because this year's state tests start March 12, "It's very likely that kids will be taking the 2007 tests before the results for 2006 are released," ISBE spokesman Matt Vanover conceded Friday.

"It's a national disgrace that we don't have the results yet,'' said Donald Moore of the Chicago reform group Designs for Change.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why they haven't been able to get this done after all this time," he said.

The delayed scores mean some Chicago school councils have been forced to evaluate principals based on old or preliminary test data. Chicago district officials have had to postpone the announcement of which schools will close for poor performance. And high schools have been relegated to preparing for this year's tests without the benefit of last year's scores.

"The purpose of the test was to show us where our strengths and weaknesses are,'' said Principal Eunice Madon of Chicago's Steinmetz High. "We have nothing. . . . It's not helpful.''

The convergence of a new testing contractor, a new state student information system, and new state tests in grades 4, 6 and 7 made Illinois the only state in the nation not to release its 2006 test results yet, ISBE and test company officials say.

Data entry problems blamed

Last year, hundreds of thousands of tests arrived late to schools or showed up with missing or misprinted pages. After kids finally took the exams, 11,000 tests were missing demographic data, and all high school tests had to be rescored.

Vanover said the contract of Harcourt Assessment Inc. has been trimmed to "prevent this from happening again.'' However, Harcourt blamed some of the problems on schools' failure to enter data properly onto tests or into the new student information system.

"I don't know of any other state that's had this problem,'' said Jeffrey Mays, president of the Illinois Business Roundtable. "I think there's a lot of people who are just wondering what the heck is going on.''

CAT Tracks Editor's Footnote...

Can I make a catty observation?

Those same folks who constantly threaten to put us (and other "failing schools") out of business because we can't raise test scores that involve changing the behavior of human beings - both inside and outside the school building - along with a multitude of socio-economic problems that would test the patience of Job...those same folks who have been dealing with TANGIBLE data completely within their control for the past YEAR and yet cannot crunch the numbers and report the old scores prior to the taking of the new tests...those same folks need to stop, take a deep breath, step back and take a long look at this whole unreasonable NCLB fiasco!

Tell you what...let's make a deal! Let's find a reason to cancel this next round of tests...or at least the results. Heck...they ought to jump at that offer. That way they can finally complete the 2006 tests and report them out. (Maybe they would agree to count the 2006 results twice! Since CSD #1 made AYP for that year, that would take Cairo off the bad list and we could start the whole process over. We would jump at that!)

Then...let's swap jobs...or at least responsibilities! ISBE can accept responsiblity for whether the kids learn or not...and the teachers will "crunch the numbers" for the next test and be responsible for getting the school report cards out on time.

I mean...the great State of Illinois has the power and resources to drive educational, social, and economic change throughout All counties and districts...including Chicago. It can raise revenue without having to beg the voters like school districts do. It can pass and enforce laws requiring parents to take responsibility for the actions of their children...something beyond the scope of individual school districts. And, as radical as it might seem, the great State of Illinois could institute rules and regs that would require students to meet state standards in order to be promoted or graduate. THAT might get their attention more than positive reinforcement measures...field trips, free theater tickets, candy, or a big "Way to go!" from the teacher.

Ain't gonna happen, but I bet if it did, the great State of Illinois would put different lyrics to the NCLB song and dance!