I Need a Guidebook or a Road Map Or...

 Something!  Maybe I need to get a PhD in Education or in Educational testing?  I'm not dumb, but I'm not a genius.  I think you maybe need to be a genius to figure out the new testing schedule in our school district for the month.  (And hats off to the teachers who have to wade their way through this.  I think we need to include a bottle of wine or whiskey along with your paychecks.  Seriously!)

It all started when my son said he wouldn't have choir on Monday.  Choir is period 0, which means getting hi there before 7:20 and since he's not a morning person, a "regular" school morning is always a reason for rejoicing.  However, I didn't see any notices from the teacher about no class.  My son said there was testing and the schedule was affected.  So I checked my email and I found (dated Sept 30):

I didn't see anything for MY son for today.  But I didn't look hard enough.  However, just before 7:30 this morning I got this reminder:

A friendly reminder that students in grade 9-11will be Pre-Gridding this morning in preparation for the PSAT. Students in grade 12 should not report to school until 9:00 AM. Please see the school schedule below:

  ·     6 period day (25 minutes each). It is a B Day. 12:10-2:55.

·     Period 4: 12:10-12:35

·     Period 1: 12:38-1:03

·     Period 2: 1:06-1:31

·     Period 8: 1:34-1:59

·     Period 5: 2:02-2:27

Period 6: 2:30-2:55

(My note:  WHAT THE F is "Pre-gridding?"  I *think* I know, but I did Google and all I got back where links to where links to schools where pre-gridding was taking place.  What???)

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is requiring school districts to administer the "Start Strong Assessments" during the months of September and October. These assessments enable the state of New Jersey to meet the “federal statewide assessment requirement to administer general assessments in English language arts, mathematics, and science for the 2020-2021 school year."

 As a result, the high school will be administering its Start Strong Assessments between October 18th-20th.

 ·     All students in grades 9 & 10 must take an ELA test on October 18th.

 ·     Students currently enrolled in any level of Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II must take a mathematics assessment on October 19th.

 All students in grades 9 & 12 must take a Science assessment on October 20th. For more details, see below. 

In addition to the Start Strong Assessment, each year High School provides students in grade 9 with the PSAT 8/9 and students in grades 10 and 11 with the PSAT/NMSQT at no cost to the students.  

 The advantages to taking the PSAT are 

·     It connects students to more than $235 million in scholarships, including the National Merit® Scholarship Program. If your child opts into the free Student Search Service®, scholarship providers will invite them to apply.

 ·     It's excellent practice for the SAT. Both tests measure the same knowledge and skills and ask the same types of questions, so PSAT/NMSQT takers will know what to expect on the SAT.

·     It's the first step to a free, personalized SAT study plan. Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® uses your child's PSAT/NMSQT score to create a customized SAT study plan with sample questions that focus on areas where they need help.

 ·     It shows student progress on the road to college The PSAT/NMSQT is part of the SAT Suite of Assessments, a series of tests beginning in eighth grade that shows your child and their teachers whether your child is on track for college.

 ·     It shows which Advanced Placement Program® (AP) courses your child is ready for. The PSAT/NMSQT Score Report indicates which college-level AP courses your child has the potential to succeed in.

(My note:  Is this a note to parents or an advertisement?  I feel like I need to sign up now with no money down and a 6 month interest free period, after which I will pay an interest rate of 18.765 percent.)

 While we recognize that these assessments disrupt the normal flow of school, we encourage every student to participate in the assessment and to do their very best while taking these assessments. Below we have provided a calendar of events and a schedule for all of the testing dates 

(My note:  DISRUPT?  Are you kidding me?  Is there a normal flow?  We ARE still in the middle of a pandemic.  There is no normal and disruption IS the norm. )

October 4, PSAT 8/9 & PSAT/NMSQT Pre-Gridding (students are completing their testing contact information so that it is done before the day of the assessment):  

(My note:  Ah...that's what pre-gridding is.  That's clear as mud and I only had to read approximately 12 paragraphs and 5 bullet points to get this information): 

·     Grade 9-11 arrive no later than 8:15 AM

·     Seniors arrive at school by 9:03 

·     Pre-Gridding grades 9-11: 8:15-9:05. In the student’s homerooms.

·     6 period day (45 each). It is a C Day. 

·     Period 3: 9:08-9:53 

·     Period 4: 9:56-10:41 

·     Period 1: 10:44-11:29 

·     Lunch: 11:29-12:29 

·     Period 7: 12:29-1:14 

·     Period 8: 1:17-2:02 

·     Period 5: 2:05-2:50 

 October 13, PSAT 8/9 & PSAT/NMSQT:

·     Students in grades 9-11 arrive at school by 8:15 AM.

·     Seniors must complete one of the following counseling learning modules.

·     Learning Module Options (All seniors must complete at least one) Students need to use their email account to open this link.

·     Seniors arrive at school after lunch.

·     The test runs from 8:10-11:10. Students who are testing will be assigned to testing rooms by Mr. M. Student testing room assignments will be communicated at a later date. 

·     Lunch is 11:10-12:10

·     6 period day (25 minutes each). It is a B Day. 12:10-2:55.

·     Period 4: 12:10-12:35

·     Period 1: 12:38-1:03

·     Period 2: 1:06-1:31

·     Period 8: 1:34-1:59

·     Period 5: 2:02-2:27

·     Period 6: 2:30-2:55

 October 18, 19, & 20, NJ Start Strong Testing:

·     Students testing must arrive at school by 8:15 AM.

·     The test runs from 8:15-9:30 

·     All periods are 40 minutes. 

·     Students will be assigned to testing rooms by Mr. M. These rooms will be communicated at a later time.

·     Students who are testing should arrive at school at the normal time. Non-testing students should arrive at school by 9:30.

 ·     October 18. It’s an A Day.

·     Period 1: 9:35-10:15

·     Period 2: 10:18-10:58

·     Lunch: 10:58-11:58

·     Period 3: 11:58-12:38

·     Period 5: 12:41-1:21

·     Period 6: 1:24-2:04

·     Period 7: 2:07-2:47

 ·     October 19. It’s a B Day.

·     Period 4: 9:35-10:15

·     Period 1: 10:18-10:58

·     Lunch: 10:58-11:58

·     Period 2: 11:58-12:38

·     Period 8: 12:41-1:21

·     Period 5: 1:24-2:04

·     Period 6: 2:07-2:47

 (My note: I'm stopping here because this is getting ridiculous.  And if you've read all this thus far kudos.  If you've only skimmed I can't blame you and I thank you for getting to this point.)

Oh...and by the way, we got ANOTHER email this morning (AFTER school started) with a correction.  Today is a NOT a B day it is a C day.  Even the administration is confused.

So what does this all mean?  In my mind, not a heck of a lot.  It means there will be less actual instruction (what the teachers do best) and more testing.  What will this testing tell me?  That my kid is average.  He will not be a shining star on any of these tests.  He will be slightly above average on some and slightly below on others.  

When it comes to PSAT and the eventual SAT, he's going to take them.  I'm NOT prepping him for them with any courses.  (Which I did way back in the day.)  I'm going to let him do his thing.  I think he has better and more creative things to do than take a test prepping course which MIGHT increase his score.  I'm pretty sure that he'll score on the lower side.  (I'm not even sure what the SAT numbers are any more and I really don't care.)  So any college out there that is looking for stellar SAT scores, you're not going to find them in my son.  You don't want my son.  To be quite honest my son doesn't want you and neither do we as a family.  You are not right for us.  For the college out there (and I don't know what that is yet) that is looking for a student with average to slightly above average grades, who is creative and doesn't know what he wants to do with his life yet AND who has work experience, volunteers on his own and is generally a good human being, you might want to take a closer look at my kid.

All this testing is, what they would say is a necessary evil.  I’d say it’s an unnecessary evil.  But as they also say, “it is what it is.”  It’s there and he’ll slog through it.  (We’ll slog through it with him as a family.)  The sad thing is it’s not just an interruption of daily life, it’s an interruption of education.  Maybe someday they’ll come up with a better way.  (But I’m NOT holding my breath or taking any bets.)


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