March 4, 2007

The bubble kids

Daniel de Vise's story in the Washington Post today is an illustration of high-stakes testing triage, describing what happened in January in Wood Middle School in Rockville, Maryland:

Principal Renee Foose told teachers to cross off the names of students who had virtually no chance of passing and those certain to pass. Those who remained, children on the cusp between success and failure, would receive 45 minutes of intensive test preparation four days a week, until further notice.

Jennifer Booher-Jennings has documented the same behavior in a school in Texas, along with language I thought was only my invention ("bubble" referring to "teams on the bubble" for the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection process), and these are only the best-documented cases of what happens across the country.

Note what did not happen: kids' being targeted for instruction based on need. Instead, only those "on the bubble" received extra attention, and it is very clear that in this school, triage was for test-preparation purposes.

Making sure that the testing environment is distraction-free?  Sure. Making sure that kids are familiar with the test format? Absolutely. Spending 3 hours a week on test preparation unconnected with the curriculum?  Nuts.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on March 4, 2007 7:47 AM |