Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Deep Secret, Deep Nonesense

For several weeks now I've wanted to blog about the WOSL (which I'm misspelling on purpose to avoid word searches of blogs). It sort of permeates my world for the month of April, and besides it's pretty goofy stuff. This is a test so bound up in bureaucratic rules that you have to either laugh or cry. I prefer the former, so I laugh a lot when this season comes around. Every year seems to get funnier than the last, and this year I am positively rolling in the aisles. Of course these funny rules also state that I can't talk about most of what I see. The state likes to think that this test is so hugely important that it must be kept utterly secret. I have news for them: Any information that you choose to share with thousands upon thousands of teenagers IS NOT a secret anymore. Nevertheless, we are bound, by contract and threat of legal action, to keep our mouths shut on most of the process. For example, the directions for administration (DA) are available on the state website. However, if we do not return our copy of the DA to our test admin. we are in big trouble. Why? Who knows?
The first thing that strikes you about all this is the acronyms. Now I admit we are acronym-heavy in education, but this takes it to the extreme. Weeks before the first test, we have a training meeting where our admin is legally required to explain the process to all of us (because we can't remember from last year or the year before that or the year before that...). This is an actual sentence from the training (the acronyms have been changed to protect, well, me):

Okay, if everyone would get out their DA we can have a look at the WOSL versus the WOOS. Now in order to maintain OYM, we need to improve our RLS, MLS, and our WLS in 7th grade. Our CAP says that we will especially focus on WLS for all grades. For those who do not qualify for WOSL, we still need to prove OYM, so we will be turning to the WOOS system to measure WLS. Your DA should have instructions for calculating OYM.

I swear I am not making this up. I am told by a friend that we are not alone on this one. Most states have similar forms of testing, and if they do not now GWB will be speaking to them soon. NCLB, the most reviled acronym in education, is the bill that requires all sorts of "fun" changes in the nation's schools. One of these changes is to require testing in every grade from K-10. Thanks GW we really needed that.

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