Second in the series about his reflections on testing, Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT), this year’s School Test Coordinator for AP, State, and District testing, counted up the number of exams that have taken place during the month of May. This is a numbers post, one with lots of stats.
In a school with 1,257 students, the month of May alone saw 4,124 AP, IB, and FSA (state) tests given. That number grows to 5,030 test sessions if we factor in the two sessions from the many FSA tests that require two days to give. If we include the April tests of FSA Writing, School Day SAT for Juniors, and the Florida Civics Literacy Exam now given to high school seniors, GOT’s school had 6,206 test sessions, give or take a few, this Spring.
That’s an average of 4.9, let’s round it to 5, days a student was taking a test across the last seven weeks of school. And we’re not counting the District tests, the end-of-course exams that must be given so that teachers can receive their growth score for the year as required by the state.
That number is 6,812 needed, of which 6,674 have been taken. But the tests needed number is the one we want as it represents the additional burden placed upon the school and its faculty. We’re up to 12,172 tests for the spring or an average of 9.7 tests per student.
Then there is the Achieve 3000 (an ELA program whose purpose is to train students for their 9th and 10th grade FSA reading tests) Level Set. 650 students had to do that. That puts our average at 10 tests per student across a seven-week period, although, most of that testing takes place across a five-week period as the last two weeks are spent chasing make-ups in the building.
Unknown to GOT as School Test Coordinator are the number of tests teachers chose to give to close out their year. Those can be necessary, too, as teachers whose classes do not have a state or district end-of-course exam must input a final exam grade for the semester. It will calculate as 20% of the final course grade.
That’s a lot of testing. Now let’s talk about disruption, the moving of classes to free rooms for testing. Schools have to assign proctors and many times those proctors cannot give the exams in their room. The Chorus or Band room, for example, is particularly bad because of the tiered flooring and the lack of writing surfaces for students.
At a high school, not all of the students are taking any given test on any given day. Schools want to isolate the test-takers away from the other population who are going about their normal day. So buildings and wings are chosen for testing and teachers whose students are not testing are moved to other rooms. Sometimes the demand for space is so acute that classes are sent to rooms whose teacher is on planning.
Testing displaced about 120 classes from their rooms. Figuring an average class size of 30, that’s 3,600 students looking for a different room from their habitual arrival at a familiar door.
The last number for this post is proctors. Every test must have proctors and one of those must be a teacher to be the lead proctor. All told, we needed at least 300 proctors across the Spring. We have about 65 teachers for that.
Every time a teacher takes on a proctoring assignment, we either need a sub or we have to look at who will be testing in their classes and what to do with the ones who are not. Sometimes we send them to a holding pen in the auditorium. Sometimes we look for a teacher not proctoring who is willing to have them sit in their classroom. Sometimes we’re moving subs around the building like Victorian nobles navigating the bedroom halls of a mansion in the night. Where will they end up?
At the center of it all is the test coordinator managing these details. Is it any wonder that often GOT’s head was about to explode?