Friday, November 2, 2012

Yes, we are also over assessing and over tracking the neediest special ed students. Now I need someone better at math to prove it.

I spent most of my post-storm day at work without students getting ahead with lessons and student portfolios and that kind of thing, and in the middle of it all, I got kind of paranoid and felt I had to justify some instructional decisions which led me to create and solve a couple of math problems - perfect for the week of Halloween since math is a bit scary to me.

Some background:
In our school, we have an expensive new copier that does all kinds of great stuff like color copies, but is not made for endurance and durability. Since our site works exclusively with 6 alternate assessment classes, we use a ciriculum that is on-line and is heavy on the cutting and pasting since a lot of  the students can't write.
So, a lot of copying. Also, we didn't have regular letter sized paper for a month or so. SO the copier jammed so much that it was deemed from ON HIGH that only the secretary can make copies, submit them in advance, please. (Our secretary is a lovely hard working woman who literally RUNS up and down the hallways every day to get the other things she needs to do done, it's unfair)

Then we ran out of toner, likely due to some backlog in the copying due to the aforementioned problems.And are low on paper. So now our unit coordinator has to look over the copies we would like to make and has veto power. Clearly we're making too many copies, and it's getting to be expensive and a hassle....


In our school we do student portfolios that track IEP goal progress, which is fine and good. Classroom teachers must create 2 reading, 2 writing, and 2 math goals per student on IEPS and track them in a portfolio with evidence, and work products are the STRONGLY PREFERRED  method. Oh, and we also have to track 2 other IEP goals in this portfolio - we create our own, or track something from, say, counseling or OT/ PT. That's 8 IEP goals each I have to gather evidence for a month.

These providers, along with the cluster teachers do their own portfolios of each student, so I don't get the point of that, but am beyond pointing out the redundancy. But I digress.

So I did these math problems:
12 kids x  goals each to track + 8 pieces of homework/ week x 12 kids:
Per month it's 96  for classwork + 384 homework = 480.

and really the 96 is supposed to be more, since we're just supposed to be taking samples of classwork - and I gotta make pictures and things for the kids who can't write to cut and paste, so we're looking at a ream a month, if not more. I can  only make a few things double sided, what with all the things that need cutting and gluing.

That's a fine how - do- you- do, huh?

Then think about their science/art/speech/OT/PT/ gym portfolios

I shiver to think about how much more paper the NYS Alternate Assessment will eat up, and then those citywide task "bundles" which AA students are not exempt from. 

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. Or rather, not seeing either as they'll all be in files in public schools.

And then add in the special ed social/ emotional factor - none of these kids can sit through doing a worksheet independently, or even sit for more than a minute or two without blood, sweat, tears, flying furniture, eating their work, etc. 

I haven't even mentioned, nor thought about til this very moment, the time consuming assessments I'm required to do. Two benchmarking kind of things that take about hour each, (I'm lowballing it) twice a year (12 kids x 2 hours x twice a year = 48) and a pre and post unit test that our curriculum requires every month (15 minutes per student x 12 =180 minutes twice a month is 360 minutes...6 hours/ month)

Is it even mathematically possible to get all this done? 

Can someone out there crunch numbers for me?

Take into account the time assessing/ benchmarking above. If I spend 5 minutes with each student working on their piece of evidence for their portfolio (96 a month) how much time is that?
Compare that to how much time I have in class. School is from 8:20 to 3:10. We have 7 periods that are 50 minutes long, with 5 minutes in between. 1 period is taken up with an intructional breakfast (95% free / reduced meals) and the kids do need that amount of time to eat, get settled, etc. There's a lunch period. I have one prep period and one admin period a day - let;s say I use my admin period to do this work, but take the prep period to, well prep.

Also, cost of paper/ toner/ secretary's time/ unit coordinator's time reviewing and vetoing copies?