Test prep is becoming more insidious. Rather than being outright drill-and-kill for the multiple choice marathon students are forced to take, now it masquerades as "critical thinking skill development" and "article analysis."
We've spent the last few months at school designing writing prompts based on articles. We then had the students read the articles, discuss the topics, and do a written response on it. Not because that's good instruction (I'm not saying it isn't...) but because that's what the almighty test has them doing now.
Test authors and companies had to get sneaky. The pushback on high stakes testing has hurt business, so they changed the format. Students are now tests on analysis and critical thinking. But, it has to fit within the acceptable parameters of the item.
Indiana is particularly bad this year. My high school students will take the test for a total of eight hours and thirty minutes this year (starting this week). And that was shortened from the original 12 hour draft released by the state. At the same time, Pearson will make $72 millon over the next two years to tell me what I already know about my students. We will also continue to pay CTB-McGraw Hill another $68 million (after losing the ISTEP contract because of repeated errors) to create practice test.
Indiana's total testing bill over the next two years: $133.8 million.
And I'm having my copies counted to make sure I don't print too much out.
Hours and hours wasted this year, as in years past, and if patterns continue, for years to come. Protect your students, protect your time.
Now begins my grumpy time of year. We have ~60 school days left, 28 of which are slated for testing in Indiana.