It's worth reflecting on the overall effectiveness of this decision-making.
I'm sure those folks who spent the dog days of August in classrooms without climate control would have a few words. My son and his friends spent a few days under these conditions, returning home soaked in sweat with the vacant look in their eyes that comes with dehydration and exhaustion. My wife and I would ask how was school, what did you do? "I don't know," was the typical August reply and I believed him. His brain had just spent 6 hours cooking inside his skull, and not because of Ohio's rigorous New Learning Standards.
Some teachers took those extra few weeks early in the year just waiting for the opportunity to administer their district scheduled Student Growth Measures, pre-tests necessary for compliance with the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. I love it when waiting on permission to administer one assessment prevents the beginning of preparation for another assessment. So much for the state's assertion that the elimination of PARCC has cured what ails us.
To be honest, the only evaluation of the adjusted school calendar that anyone is going to care about, regardless of the thoughtful or sweaty analysis of teachers and students, are the scores on the state tests.
If you keep up with the Ohio Department of Education, those scores have been released. Not your child's scores; let's not be silly. What the ODE has already determined is how many students will score proficient or above. Based on the scores of students in Washington, or some other state with comparable NAEP scores, the state has analyzed and determined cut scores. So, for example, on this year's Algebra I test the ODE predicts 57% of students will score proficient or above. For English I the number is 54%.
Here's a link to the information for all grades proficient and above percentages for Math and ELA.
So, how well did my students do on the assessments? Well, I don't know, but the state has this predetermined percentage that would indicate, predictably, that students in an urban district like mine will score poorly. Consider the flip side of those percentages. Yes, 54% in the state will score proficient or above in ELA I. That means that 46% will not earn enough points to meet the average in order to graduate. As I've said before, I believe this is terribly problematic, but no one seems to want to talk about it. As a teacher, could I begin a course with the assumption that 54% will pass? No. Yet this seems to summarize the methodology of the Ohio Department of Education and its assessment system.
Again, how well did my students do on the assessments? I don't know. To make matters worse, we are not permitted to see the tests, discuss the tests, reflect on the tests, and we'll not get any scores from the tests until months after my students leave my classroom. Furthermore, the ODE has suggested that they will be providing schools with little to no data regarding performance levels on individual or bands of standards which will make it nearly impossible for educators to target areas of concern.
Did the extra time before the assessments help? Who knows, but more time for meaningful and relevant instruction is always beneficial. A simple way to maximize the aforementioned instruction time is, quite simply, to minimize assessment time. If we could do that, I wouldn't have to keep talking about this shit.
Believe me, I'm tired of talking about these things. As I said, it's the end of the school year. We're all tired. At some point this year, I made a conscious decision to try and simplify my approach. Fear not, I covered the content and did my due diligence grinding through test preparation. My student's graduation is dependent upon that reality. But that's a stressful proposition, so I tried to focus more on being a decent human being while bringing humor and understanding to an otherwise atrocious situation considering the high stakes testing. I wanted to recognize that the life of a student can be difficult, and that I was in a position, perhaps, to improve the quality and nature of their educational experience.
So, to my students this year...Hannah, Sebastian, James, and Brandon. The many Emily's, Mikayla, Mackenzie, and Michael. All of you that I had the good fortune to meet. I hope that it worked.