The past week have been nuts for most folks involved in the alternate assessment, because our county put a hard deadline on having collection period 1 finished before Christmas break. In fact they are sending someone from the county office to check on us next week which means everything is due TODAY.
Just to review for those of you in the dark, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates that every child be brought to grade level standards in reading and math by 20014. To that end, every child must be assessed on that content. Not having enough children pass the state assessment in each subgroup results in failure to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and some sanctions for the school, not the least of which is the school considered to be a failing school. Who wants to be a failure? For students with significant cognitive disabilities, they do allow 1-2% of the population to have an alternate assessment. In Georgia, this is a portfolio-based assessment known as the Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA). It involves some heavy documentation in addition to all the stuff we normally have to do. This is the short version. Go back and read my entries from a year ago for the more extensive and venomous version!
I’ve been just doing it and not going on and on and on about it because I overdid my quota last year. But my loathing of NCLB and the alternate assessment and the stupidity behind it are unchanged. Having done it before has been a big help. But everyone else is going bonkers, especially the new teachers. They look very worn and fatigued on it. The thing is, most of them shouldn’t even have to do it. We have over 20 students doing the GAA here at Magnolia High, and we don’t have more than 500 juniors taking the state assessment! So we’re way above the 1-2% mark. It’s shenanigans like this that made the provision in NCLB necessary in the first place, especially the subgroupings. But somehow they get away with it, which is why they do it. They can put more students on the alternate assessment which means less students fail the regular test which means the school can still make AYP.
I’m less stressed this year, partly because I jumped out and got all over it early. But the other part is that I’m looking forward to not fiddling with it at some point in the future. It’s going to be because I move on, not because of any changes in NCLB. I saw it coming long before the beltway analysts did, namely that NCLB is not going anywhere until after the election. They did the same exact thing with the IDEA re-authorization and frankly, NCLB is a much bigger and a much hotter potato than IDEA.