Saturday, May 23, 2015

How Much Time is the SBAC Taking at Your School?

I ask because I'm seeing various comments on this issue.  So let us know what you have heard and seen at your school (across any grade). 

For example, one reader said that Garfield had a couple of late starts this week 11 am. That's pretty late for the school day to begin.  Maybe leadership there thought it better for students to NOT come and have to hang around doing almost nothing rather than coming later.

I also heard from a reader at Ingraham who said her daughter took the test (as a junior) and didn't find it all that hard but that she was very annoyed with sitting around for 45 minutes. 

It all adds up to lost instructional time of which there are several factors:

- the actual time to take an untimed test
- the actual time for set-up to take the test (which apparently can be anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour).
- time that is test prep (how you take the test)
- time that is test prep (for what is on the test)

Not to mention down time for computer issues.

Recently, Superintendent Nyland blithely said that it will take time for SBAC to run well. 

You can't say that there are issues to iron out but then continue to give a test that counts for some students, isn't necessary for others and may, in the end, count for teachers.  


Lynn said...

Garfield had three 11:00 late starts for the 10th grade ELA (SBAC) exam. That's 9 hours of testing for sophomores and approximately 14,400 student instructional hours lost.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why schools have school-wide late starts when giving tests. It makes sense that the students taking the test go to the labs/classrooms with rolling carts to take tests, and the others go to the classrooms not being used to learn - they can do week long extended learning projects or anything else that can actually be educational. Cancelling school to administer tests seems like a big waste of time and resources -

Just Wondering

Anonymous said...

You want to add up hours? How about the "pledge" every morning and the droning announcements. At least ten minutes every day times 180 days times 50,000 kids = 1,500,000 student hours lost per year.
Sure, some announcements are good, but it's usually not important or could be done more efficiently and it's just public speaking practice for ASB kids.

And swearing allegiance to flag and country every day? Great way to devalue it, how about once a year and make it mean something.

I'd rather have 4 longer days a week and cut down on lost time to transportation as well, and it would help force a 4 day work week for all parents.Aren't we way more productive than a hundred years ago?


Lynn said...

I'd guess the problem is that for one grade to take a test at a time, you'd need to have 25% of the classrooms empty. It's too complicated to reorganize classes to make that work.

Ideally, they'd bus kids from Garfield to the JSCEE for testing. That would allow other students to come to school.

It's not just these three days. There were 11:00 starts on October 16th, February 4th and 5th and there will be three more next week.

Anonymous said...

SBAC time is a problem. As are the questions, the use of it, the cost of it, etc.

The underlying problem with the SBAC is it (and it's endorsers) operate from the premise that everything important in a student's life can be measured with quantative tools. This leads to the belief that if it can't be measured, then it doesn't exist.

Anti-SBAC folks need to be careful not to fall into the same trap, thinking that the only problems with it are the ones that we can measure, point to, collect data on.

It is perfectly fine to hold the value, for example, that 1 Billion dollars is better spent on reducing class size than on SBAC tests. Data and research are always political functions. i.e. Class size may be less researched (and therefore have less data) than test scores. This does not mean test scores are "more proven," it simply means they are more funded.

Often deep values (morality, ethics, love, kindness, responsibility, commitment) evade measurement and data collection. This DOES point to our very limited ways of thinking and DOES NOT point to their nonexistence.

Quantative data can be a good tool. But it would be a mistake to think it is the only relevant piece of the conversation. It would also be a mistake to think that funding always goes toward worthwhile research. Often what is researched are the interests of the researchers and not the interests of the parents, students.


Anonymous said...

My junior at Chief Sealth had late starts Tues-Fri. She finished both tests on Tuesday with late starts the remainder of the week.

Larry Nyland should donate his compensation. The man doesn't need money. He's the Buddha.


Anonymous said...

Why the late starts? The computerized SBAC test administration requires 2 certified teachers per classroom plus staff to monitor the hallways in testing areas. There is not enough school staff left to teach or supervise the other grades. I assume the state is not providing funding to hire substitute teachers or hire and train outside proctors.

-Test TA

Anonymous said...

Blaine middle schoolers took the SBAC for four days in a row starting at 2nd period through the end of the day (they made first period PE everyday). Four lost days of class time to test.

-Didn't SBAC

Melissa Westbrook said...

monitor the hallways"

To what end? Noise, kids who will text answers? I don't get that.

Many questions, great points.

Anonymous said...

Hall monitors are part of most testing protocols. I believe SBAC requires this. Students are allowed to have bathroom breaks. Monitors keep them from making noise, chatting with others about the ongoing test, visiting lockers, etc.

-Test TA

Middle School said...

Our middle school lost 8 class periods for Language Arts SBA and 4 periods for Math SBA.

Anonymous said...

At Hazel Wolf K-8 my eight grader opted out, but the tests consumed 1.5-2 hours on four separate days for the ELA and Math portions. Usually it was the 9-10:30 or 9-11am block. Students who needed additional time to complete the test had it, but by the end I heard reports from my son's classmates that they were just so bored and tired of the test that they were just clicking through the answers to complete the test. This process consumed about two weeks of classtime. Another challenge was that there are mixed grade classes (for example, science) so some students were in class, while other students in a different grade were in the tests.

On top of all this, my son's algebra class spent about 3 weeks of classtime preparing for the SBAC math test, which focuses on geometry subjects (the typical 8th grade curriculum). Their teacher recapped the 7th grade geometry class topics to refresh their memories for the SBAC.


Anonymous said...

Add in 3 LA periods and 3 math periods for Amplify testing.


Anonymous said...

HIMS seemed to do a pretty good job with the scheduling. Each grade had its own testing week, during which kinds spent one full morning on ELA test and one full morning on math. They did the classroom activities during two single periods (one in SS, one in science), so those didn't disrupt the schedule.

Mixed-grade morning classes would have had lower attendance during those three weeks, but those are primarily electives and the instruction continued (at least to some extent). Students who opted out went to the library if their core, grade-level class was involved in testing, but they were able to leave and attend their mixed-grade classes that were meeting.


Mddle School said...

I forgot to mention: In an effort for children to get used to long testing periods, our middle school was having children sit for long periods of time. If I recall correctly, the students were to sit for two entire class periods. #crazy

Middle School Parent said...

I recently saw a class where only half the kids were doing makeup tests in the classroom. The other half were sitting in the hallway for an hour doing absolutely nothing. Even kids that were not doing the makeup test were not getting their required instruction.

Anonymous said...

Elementary - some of the kids sat & read for a couple of hours before enough kids were done that a couple classes could be consolidated and one could continue testing while the other did something else. Some kids tested for several days in a row on the ELA. Slow typists, slow readers, slow writers all took at least the day, if not more.

Too much

Anonymous said...

What "Middle School said" said drives me nuts. But in the framework of high stakes testing, it makes perfect sense. You drill and control for any thing and everything that might affect the test scores on which you will be evaluated -- no matter how stupid it is.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the timeframe for results? Based on an EdSource report for CA (part of SBAC), I'm going to assume the timeframe for WA is similar:

Smarter Balanced assessments schedule

Student results
: Four weeks after a student finishes a subject test, the preliminary results are sent to the district.

District results: Four weeks after the entire district finishes testing, the results go to the district.

Parent reports: Eight weeks after the district completes testing, the state sends individual student reports to the district. It’s up to the district to send the reports to parents.

Public results: The state plans to release full results in August

School districts start receiving early results on Smarter Balanced tests by Sarah Tully


Anonymous said...

Not seattle but it ate 12 hours of instruction at my high school. One of the days there were all of 6 questions on the test, but the schedule had been set so there was 2 hours of no-curriculum no electronics downtime in the class. Glad I didn't have to proctor that day.

Glad I left Seattle

Anonymous said...

How much time? It's a vague mystery to this parent.

What I know is there were 3 half days for just the test: From the morning bell until 12:15pm. That right there is a huge amount of thine.

But add to that the 'class room activities', I have no info as to when those happenef or how long those took.

Also add the minimum of 2 times I know of when the class was brought to the computer lab to do practise tests. There may have been more visits, and I do not know how long those visits took. But it was at least a minimum of 3 hours.

Add to that the 'coaching' the kids got during class that showed them how to 'perform' on the SBAC tests. Sometimes, my kid would bring home papers of worksheets that they did to practice. And, there were also mini-lectures of test prep. "Always put the question into your first paragraph for your essay question", and other 'must-dos' the kids were told in order to maximize potential points.

So, I really cannot tell you how many total hours.

Plus, it varies by kid, because some very unlucky kids had their laptops shut-down (it was an automated reboot that couldn't be stopped and all of the work was lost - so they had to start over!!!).

The inability to do an 'audit trail' as a parent speaks to how unclear the circumstances were around these SBACs. It was a huge waste of everyone's time, IMHO, and those hours and hours would have been far better spent doing DIRECT TEACHING and providing INSTRUCTION to the kids on how to write, or, diagraming sentences (grammar, that old chestnut!), or how to solve geometry problems or develop equations from word problems. Testing never taught my kids anything. In contrast, teachers have taught my kids plenty.

Sorry I could not be more specific about total hours. I will say this: it was at least double the MSP time.

Elementary north

Anonymous said...

Counter - the pledge daily is state law. Agreed it's a waste of time and it was dropped in some schools for some time, but easily reinstated because for a principal to refuse to do it is a clear state law violation. When I was in another country their National Anthem singing was every Friday morning (more reasonable).

Westside, Sealth must have been like Garfield with 3 late starts (no school on Tuesday so not 4).

Monitor the hallways - yes, required for test security and yes, despite constant berating/reminders students are constantly caught with cell phones on them texting during test breaks. A few were caught texting/sharing questions with friends in other schools during the end of the WASL testing days which was why the insistence of everybody doing them at the same time. A few... not many, so on the one hand it does happen and if we're going to have a test we should pursue solid test security... but as to the complaints about how much time/resources testing is clearly taking I'm there with you.

Many schools (likely all HS) have tutorial periods where non-testing students can work on assignments, have access to computers, get help, etc. Unfortunately many students don't take advantage of this and just take it as a 1/2 day of school so yes - lost learning time in the end for many.


marcobpathfinder said...

I teach 6th grade at a K-8. We spent a total of 5 mornings taking the Silly Balance test. That would be a total of 17.5 hours lost for instruction. In addition, as usual we did not get through the entire math curriculum for the school year and had to leave statistics and geometry for after the test. In addition, students who were absent were pulled out from morning CORE classes to make up the test. We had some obviously aware families opt out and their children attended school after lunch. In addition, our student took Rupert Murdohs Amplify test in the fall, which again was a total waste to time. I was sadly struck this week when a group of 10 first graders were walking down the hallway outside my room to take a MAP math test. They looked so sad!!!No joy there and its just sad that we are wasting so much time and energy on this scam committed on our nation to benefit only the test making companies and those goal is to destroy public education. We need to continue to continue to unite and fight back against this madness!!!

StringCheese said...

Apparently, my child lost about a month of her library and tech class time to test prep as well. The librarian, an SBAC cheerleader, took it upon herself to deny the 3-5th grades opportunities to explore and check out books in order to push ELA performance task prep worksheets at them. My daughter was definitely upset. I believe that the librarian was upset by what she saw (appropriately in most cases) as a refusal of most classroom teachers to spend classroom time on this nonsense.

We opted out, of course, but apparently I should have written incredibly detailed instructions on other things that needed to be avoided. Next year.

Anonymous said...

Many high schools have computers in the library along a couple computer labs (perhaps even with one in library as Garfield has ). Not every school has carts with computers yet that can be checked out by departments/teachers.

Not all computers work so using any working computers for testing will be the school's priority.


Anonymous said...

Clocks don't bring tomorrow

Knives don't bring good news

No kid ever learned anything by test taking. They learn by instruction, trying, doing, and then with an audit trail and trying again with more instructional support.

How much time did these SBACs take? Only 1 answer: too much. How much did they cost? That is a way more complex answer: how do you value the student learning opportunity expense?

This was a sloppy beta experiment run on coerced minors with largely uninformed, non-consented parents and guardians. I predict in 3 years it will be gone. 6/28 opted out this year in my kid's elementary class. Next year, I bet half. Third year, it will be a wisp of a showing. Akin to jury nullification. So, they may want this new shiny toy, but, upon public disobedience, they will have to come up with a far more reliable, more reasonable, and less cumbersome test tool. Time will tell.

Wasted Time

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well kids, the meme out there is that it's only white, upper-class parents doing it. Part of that might be true but only because:

1) it's early - wait till those test results get out
2) schools with more minority parents tend to either parents who speak a second language (and may not know there is an option) or school with high F/RL where the parents also don't know there is an option
3) PTAs and PTOs that are organized. Some schools don't have either.

And there's a good question - where the SCPTSA on this? I know they work very hard and have been down in Olympia trying to get the Legislature to get McCleary and 1351 (and support teachers).

And national PTA? They appear to be all in on Common Core and its tests.

Their president's latest message? About Achieve - the group of governors and business people who brought you Common Core.

They push "P21" which is

T"he Partnership for 21st Century Learning (formerly the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) was founded in 2002 as a coalition bringing together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to position 21st century readiness at the center of US K-12 education.."

Luckily, so far, Washington isn't part of this group.

What's really adorable about the PTA is they have a whole Common Core toolkit that has a section "Don't Politicize the Common Core State Standards!" Politics? CC was put together by governors (elected) and state superintendents (mostly elected or appointed by elected officials).

Oh and the Gates Foundation gave PTA money to rally the troops in four states.

Interestingly, the WAPTSA doesn't have Common Core at the top of their "to do" list.

No matter what your feelings are about Common Core and testing, the fact is that there was NO real national conversation about either until after the fact. Where was this conversation in our state or district?

So I am with Wasted Time - parents need to stand up to this and say "we want the conversation that we didn't get and we'll continue to opt out until we do get it."

Don't let anybody try to shame you by saying you are hurting your school and minority kids because that is exactly what is happening.

Anonymous said...

My children do not think it's a waste of time to say the pledge. School things they consider a waste of time: Amplify testing, SBAC, canned anti-bullying curriculum, and TED talks shown during class, among other things.

The Onion's TED talk spoof


Anonymous said...

A colleague of mine is an SPS FRL family with two children in elementary. They immigrated to the U.S. about 9 years. Last week we were talking about standardized tests and how I had opted my children out. At first, she thought this was a bad idea because it would then be very difficult to know how well your child was doing in school. I explained that the standardized tests are not always aligned to classroom teaching, she hung her head in disbelief at the stupidity of the system. (I felt awful for delivering this bad news).
I don't pretend that my colleague's story is indicative of all FRL/immigrant families but it assisted me to change my thoughts about typical reasons for non-involvement. Prior to this, I may have thought it was lack of time, organization, or political will. I'm now beginning to think its a deeper question of faith in the system. Because she isn't able to teach her children herself, she is much more dependent upon SPS to do the right thing by her family and this, I think, may lead to higher levels of (undeserved) trust than families who have the social (and other) resources to challenge the system.
To boot, she mentioned that she can't stand the elementary homework system where assignments come home on random pieces of paper. She longs for books so she could know what chapter her children are supposed to be on so that she could at least put her parental efforts toward enforcement.
This all may sound like a strange post about my friend's experience, but it really was quite moving to me to realize my extreme dissatisfaction with SPS is magnified a thousand fold for some in ways that I had not anticipated. How can we get opt out information to all SPS families?

Melissa Westbrook said...

FriendFriend, the best way would be via the PTA or PTO. Those are the people on the ground at the schools.

The point is not necessarily to say you "should" opt out. But here are the facts and you do, as a parent, have the right to opt your child out.

Then parents can make their own informed decision.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

I have to admit my ignorance, are the PTA's all networked together? Are the PTA's in favor of disseminating accurate information about SBAC and standardized testing in general?

I opted my child out of the MAP after one teacher told me that his average MAP scores "proved" to her that he wasn't that bright. (How often do children get informally tracked by their teachers based on MAP??? I imagine I am among the lucky who had a teacher brazen enough to vocalize this pattern. It never would have occurred to me the unspoken influence these test scores have...)

I agree that it isn't a "should" scenario but I am starting to think that there are unfortunate (dare I say underhanded) forces at work to keep families in the dark about testing. I am under the impression that the opt-out movement is potentially very powerful, as it targets profit margins, and it is an activism available to so many SPS families if only the information and rationales were widely available.


Steak said...

My kid was ok taking the test, Didn't finish the ELA part and was going to finish later, but finished the math early and then finished the ELA, so was done on time. 4 days with two sessions a day divided by lunch and one period(middle school).

8 days of blocked classes grouped by alphabet, so different classroom configurations. No complaints about that or the test.

There were about three weeks of math test prep, but it was all review of last years math which had been forgotten, so, while there was complaining by the kiddo, it was a good thing to review, I thought.

Anonymous said...

FriendFriend - "To boot, she mentioned that she can't stand the elementary homework system where assignments come home on random pieces of paper. She longs for books so she could know what chapter her children are supposed to be on so that she could at least put her parental efforts toward enforcement."

In ed school we were taught that inexperienced and poor teachers rely too much on the textbook. Coming from a background including a lot of tutoring I disagreed then and still do and tend to teach more from the book than most. Why? When a kid says he can't understand parents ask to see the book/notes - if it is math the parent hasn't seen/done for some time their adult-level reading skills usually makes the lesson doable. Parents (of tutored students) get so frustrated they can't help because they have no idea what's being taught. Ok, tutors too spend part of the period (often) trying to figure out what was taught if it's not a straightforward worksheet.

Ask Johnny to see his notes (since no book) - how good is Johnny at taking notes? See the problem.

Many teachers don't use the textbooks (didn't we just spend $3M on math textbooks) - they either don't like them, think they're better than them, or think it's bad practice to actually use them... making the problem for lower socio-economic students worse because those families are not hiring a tutor.

"one teacher told me that his average MAP scores "proved" to her that he wasn't that bright" - Sorry, that is so totally wrong in so many ways (it's a single data point, what's the pattern of testing/grades to show strengths/weaknesses, multiple intelligences, just plain rude even if Johnny hasn't quite reached the top math scores yet, etc.). I do fear this happens slightly more with math teachers since culturally there is a tendency to associate math skills with intelligence… although I’ve known brilliant mathematicians whose written communication is atrocious… different “bright” areas, but a single test… just sorry.


Anonymous said...

At McClure the kids had 12 days where they were either in study hall working on packets, taking the test, or in their regular 4th period/lunch. So that equates to 5 periods x 12 days =60 lost classes of instruction.


Old Timer said...

I'm hearing that children must answer questions before moving on. Gone are the days of answering most difficult questions last.

I'm also hearing that student's can't change their answers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Friend, the PTAs are a network under SCPTSA. What SCPTSA could do is have workshops to train PTA leaders (and the regional PTA org has these trainings a couple of times a year) how to lead discussions on these issues.

Whether it's to say as a PTA "we opposed SBAC" would not be my goal. It would be to provide education and discussion around the issue so that parents can make an informed decision.

No one can argue with that.

PTA is supposed to be there for parents and it makes me sad that neither PTA (or CPPS for that matter) will take the lead. Why? Because of funding and incurring the wrath of the powers that be.

Who watches out for parents?

Anonymous said...

We watch out for each other. Look it's not just immigrant or poor parents who aren't aware, it's well educated engineers. We had such a family over and they were aware of SBAC through school notification and supported it because they were told it's more rigorous and implies more curriculum coverage. Both parents work FT and are well educated. They tend to take the school's word in terms of doing the right thing even though they've not been thrilled with McClure MS experience compared to the ES experience.
It was an eye opener for them when they asked their child's views on SBAC.

Will they opt their child out next time? Who knows. They don't like what they hear about the testing and are opposed to the data gathering, but they are busy and barely keeping it together with long commute time, sick elderly parents, and the bit here and there volunteering at school and driving kids around to their various activities. While they may have second thoughts about this type of hi-stake testing, I don't know if this will translate to any action. I think there would be more traction if there was stronger school based movement.


Anonymous said...

Last year at Hamilton, to do the end of year testing, that was much less than this year's SBAC, they needed to send the other grades on all day field trips. In other words, they scheduled multiple field trips to get 1/3 of the students out of the building so that there were enough spaces to set up the test.

So the Hamilton parent that reported that it wasn't that bad this year is probably correct. However, next year, when the school is even more crowded than last year, there will definitely be a big hit on instructional time.

I never thought we would be looking at private schools but ... my youngest child is having such a dramatically different experience than the older siblings. Capacity seems to dictate everything and testing is another capacity problem.

- another hamilton parent