Today Krissy reminded me of my favorite song that I always forget is my favorite song.

Today was the beginning of the most wonderful month of the year. IAA month. The IAA is the Illinois Alternative Assessment and my use of the word “wonderful” is an example of sarcasm. The IAA is the test we give our kids instead of the ISAT. It is supposedly adapted for the needs of special ed kids. It’s terrible. There are 19 million reasons it is terrible. Here is an example of what a question may look like:

“Cats are cute. They like to purr. Sometimes they drink milk. Other times they drink water. They go to the bathroom and eat cat food and fishes. In films they are usually portrayed as females. Who doesn’t like a good cat!”

“This passage is an example of: 1) fiction; 2) mythology; 3) nature tale.”

The questions are retarded enough as it is. But then the way I have to administer it is absolutely absurd. What I have to do is read that full passage and the possible answers to the student (and they get longer than this.) At the end of all that reading, if the student chooses the correct answer (which he will do roughly 33 percent of the time), I jot down a 4. If he chooses the wrong one I read the whole damn thing AGAIN and ask him AGAIN and if he gets it THIS time I give him…ummm…4 points. And if he doesn’t…I direct him to a general prompt that is only vaguely related to the question and in all the tests I have administered I have yet to see it ever convey an understanding of the question to the student. Then I read the whole damn thing AGAIN and ask him AGAIN and if he gets it I jot down a 3. If he doesn’t I tell him the answer, read the whole damn thing AGAIN and ask him AGAIN and if he gets it I jot down a 2. If he doesn’t I jot down a 1.

Now…you don’t have to be an educator to figure out what is REALLY being tested here: the students knowledge of the process of elimination. If the student understands how the process of elimination works he has a 67 percent chance at getting full credit on each question and a 100 percent chance of getting 3 or more on every question on the test. Meanwhile, if he doesn’t get process of elimination (which is usually the case with most of my kids) he is either going to get a 4 or a 1. Very few of my kids ever know the answer…not so much because they don’t understand the concepts being test but because it is presented in such an asinine manner that is full of language they are unfamiliar with. Since they don’t understand what is going on they usually just sort of shut down and go into auto-pilot, choosing the same one every time (ie the one in the middle.) Unfortunately, this means that if they miss it the first time, we will be reading THE WHOLE PASSAGE FOUR TIMES.

I started IAA testing today with my 5th grader thinking OK WE CAN DO THIS LET’S TEAR THROUGH THIS AND MOVE ON TO ACTUAL EDUCATION. Question 1: he missed it and I had to read the whole thing to him four times. Then he flipped his desk over and fell on the floor screaming. We ended up getting through three questions in our 25 minute session. Lord…

And THIS is how we decide which school districts are “failing” or “leaving kids behind”.

On a more positive note…I looked fresh ta death in my new Pumas today. My first inter-personal interaction of the day came at the gas station when a girl randomly complimented me on my shoes as I drearily filled up on coffee. I wish I could keep new shoes looking new forever. Maybe I will just be careful to only wear them when it is dry out and not dusty or dirty. Or maybe I’ll just forget about it soon.

So who’s excited for my Bible Reading Blog!

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6 Responses to IAA = EPIC FAIL

  1. doctorwaffle says:

    That’s the song I heard yesterday! Such a great song! Are all their songs as awesome?

    I look forward to a picture of your Pumas.

  2. edshrink says:

    Nice kicks, homie.

    And yes, alternative assessment is RIDICULOUS. Ours is based on a 9 point scale, and due to our new “widening the circle” stance, in which we basically put EVERYONE in the regular education setting, anyone who scores above, say, a 7 on the alternative assessment, needs to be exposed to Sunshine State Standards and will be taking the FCAT. Do you know what you have to do to get a 7 on the Alternate Assessment? Basically you have to not fall asleep during the test. Also I think you lose points if there are vomit stains on the score sheet. Naturally, this correlates to being able to pass the FCAT. And look, I’m all for not housing kids in self contained all day…but these kids are going to DIE on FCAT. All sorts of fail in education these days.

  3. kerouaccat says:

    That’s absurd. Isn’t the whole point of taking an alternate assessment so that the student can have success on a test for suitable to his needs? If he gets a 7 or higher that would appear to be working.

  4. chareelouise says:

    What’s with the fish-tank of “success” ascribed to our national school system? It’s actually part of the reason I left the education program at AU. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it, however, I might go back depending on jobs this next year, just not at AU, although they have been voted #1 teaching program in the state of MI 3 years in a row.

  5. lilslik says:


    I never responded to your email, but I also liked the song. With all the chatter going on in the background, it was just very happy sounding.

    I like a pair of blinding-white sneakers.

  6. chareelouise says:

    This song also reminds me of a western for some reason. I can’t stop listening to it…

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