SLA is still CCRAP
Its spring in NJ, but this year there will be no CCRAP (ok, so it's really called PARCC). Instead we have SLA. (For those of you who are of a certain age, that is NOT the Symbionese Liberation Army, but Student Learning Assessment.) In my eye, it's the same thing. Or as the saying goes: "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig." My own take on that is "You can put lipstick on a pig, but who the hell would want to kiss it?" (Sorry pig lovers!)
I think I hate the word "assessment." It’s beginning to make my skin crawl. Our children as constantly being assessed. But what does this really mean? Does it tell us anything that we DON'T already know? Does it tell us WHO are children really are? The answer to both is NO!
With that said, my son IS currently "participating" in the NJ SLA. Although he'll spend LESS time SLA-ing than he did CCRAP-ing; he'll still be sitting there NOT being engaged and NOT learning anything new. He'll miss classes that he loves (just when he FINALLY got into the Art cycle). All this just to assess my child?
I can say with confidence, when these results come back, this is what they will say. When it comes to English/Language Arts (whatever the heck you want to call it), he will come in just over the average. If the state, district or town average is 20; then he will come in with a 20.5. When it comes to Math, if the average is 117; then he will come in with a 115.2. (Note, these numbers are totally random on my part. I have NO clue what the averages are or will be, nor do I really care.) They will be the same results he's had since he started with CCRAP back in elementary school. And even then I knew what the results would show.
This does not mean my son is not smart. This does not mean my son is not learning. This DOES NOT mean that my son's teachers haven't done their job or aren't excelling. (They are!) What does it mean? It means that my son, is slightly below average in one area and slightly above in another. Surprise! My kid is pretty much...average. Or at least he is when it comes to these subjects. In other subject and more importantly, in other aspects of life, he excels.
Of course there are some aspects of life that he just absolutely DOESN'T get. Organization is the one that immediately comes to mind. Instead of sitting in front of a computer being "assessed" couldn't we be drilling him in organizational skills? Sure he gets "training" in that in home and in the classroom, but he could use more. It would definitely be more beneficial to him and to his future if he spent more time learning/working on organizational skills than reading some random package and answering questions.
So what DOES NJSLA do? Well according to the state education website (pertaining to the English side of things): The NJSLA-ELA measures student proficiency with grade level skills, knowledge and concepts that are critical to college and career readiness. On each assessment, students read and analyze passages from authentic fiction and nonfiction texts. The test can also include multimedia stimuli such as video or audio. The NJSLA-ELA assessments emphasize the importance of close reading, synthesizing ideas within and across texts, determining the meaning of words and phrases in context and writing at every grade.
In a nutshell...yeah, it's a pig and it's wearing lipstick. As so for one, wasteful week, my son will (metaphorically) be kissing that pig...Next week we return you to your regularly scheduled learning.