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    « Fleming Sues Capistrano Unified, Former Attorney | Main | Children First Sets December 1 Event »

    November 17, 2011

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    CUSD just mandated four additional days of multiple-choice testing out of already too short school year. What will they care about losing five more instructional days? I am sick of fighting for teaching time and working bell-to-bell, only be to told that four days should be given up to produce "data" I don't need.

    Maybe CUSD students will escape Final exams... and the district can use its ridiculous Benchmark tests instead.

    Not to mention the fact that the Benchmark Tests are pretty useless. I helped another teacher grade his today. Nearly every kid failed. Why? The questions don't relate to his content! They're either not in the right unit, or are so detailed that there is now way a kid could answer the lot of them rationally. I found one question that actually had three correct answers to it! Some nimrod from the state wrote the tests, I guess, with no real experience in the classroom. Oh, and you have to love the fact that the politically correct modern day Hispanic/Latin immigration question is on there when this test is supposed to be on 19th century issues. Don't take that the wrong way - its just that the test isn't on what its supposed to be on!

    Go ahead and cut the school year. I don't care anymore. I just hope they do it to the end of the school year and don't add in three day weekends and the like in dribs and drabs. That would harm instructional continuity even more. If they cut a week off in June, than I can go out and work part time or sub for the county and earn money to make up for my lost pay for that week. I really cannot do that if they cut a day here and a day there throughout the rest of the year.

    This wouldn't be as much of an issue as people think of the useless days would be eliminated. We don't need these collaboration days. We get NOTHING done. We only have our time wasted. Oh, and how about eliminating mandatory pep rallies that take place during instructional time? Get rid of these time wasters and those 5 days suddenly aren't so bad. But no, that would be far too rational.

    Well said Testing!

    And I will add my two cents about the elementary November school calendar. Between teacher conferences and holidays, November 11th- November 28th is one long education vacation. No homework is a part of the bonus package. And then, in December, comes winter break. At my son's teacher conference, I learned all about how they are going to finally institute the instructional plan after the holidays. Face the facts. For our younger students, school runs from January - June. During which all the testing and then end of school year parties take place.

    Well, as a teacher it concerns me that someone would actually say that they intend to start their instructional plan after the holidays. What have they been doing for 3 months? I realize that it is choppy, but my classroom instruction has been up and running since day 1....vacations are an interruption, but not a reason to postpone learning or routines. Has there been any clue that nothing has been taking place so far? What does the teacher call what they've been doing??? Wow....still reeling from this comment. Very scary.

    After elementary school, the first quarter of each year is spent opening eyes. Grades are real. Expectations are real. Not all students exceed them. The standards are difficult to meet and master. Every day is crucial.

    Under NCLB, teachers are expected to produce better results every year. Nothing new is added to support that goal, but the expectation is mandated. For that reason, it is painful to see instructional time lost for increased testing or fund-raising or spirit-raising assemblies, or in this case a lack of tax dollars.

    There is a reason that state standardized tests come in the spring. Students have had a chance to recover, remediate and refocus. If the district values instructional time, it would not require meaningless mid-year formative testing. Instead, it might consider eliminating pep rallies and other cultural disruptions to instructional time, it could stop accommodating illegal mid-year vacations. and it might reevaluate mid-work-day conferences for all elementary students. Current policies indicate to teachers that learning is sometimes a secondary focus.

    In spite of what is written here (or what will be written here), its not going to matter in the big picture if the school year is shortened or lengthened by a few days here or there. Kids will learn and CUSD will remain at the top of the list for California's large schools. I have seen it all and done it all in my 45+ years in education and there are always concerns form folks who are on a race to nowhere. Most of our CUSD grads will lead healthy, productive, successful and happy lives and if the don't, it will have NOTHING to do with the number of school days. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Thanks Beneficial - I agree. My kids received a top notch education in CUSD and are now contributing members of society. They had holidays, testing days (remember CORE?) and survived because the teachers are excellent and the schools function quite well. I would not like to see the school year shortened this year but if that is the only option left then let's figure it out quickly so the educators can make adjustments to their class plans.

    And to the elementary folks that are concerned about the days off in the fall - the real answer is to start a week BEFORE Labor Day as this provides more time before the end of the year and before the state mandated tests giving our kids the same advantage that other schools nation wide have by starting earlier. This has been discussed for years but it always comes down to the elementary parents that cherish their Labor Day weekend over the smaller group of parents of high school students who now understand the importance of testing (STAR and AP tests).

    Happy TG!

    I completely agree with last twp posts!! CUSD is wonderful and the students graduating from our district are doing incredible things with their lives!! It's really something to be quite proud of. I can understand the initial fear regarding holidays and a shorter year, but in the end, it makes little to no difference to the overall educational experience. I completely support Kotter's idea that if the year is to be shortened, let's figure it out now and have a definite plan in place so teachers can plan accordingly!

    Before we go using past performance to predict future outcomes, we should note that the school year has never been this short in any of our professional experience. CORE was never four full days AND in addition to year-end tests. And teachers were never so focused on data analysis. No one can stop "progress" -- and the best solution may be to mitigate the damage -- but we'd better keep our heads above the sand level.

    Would you support half-days? 100 days? On-line except P.E.? One could make that argument, given the comment above. Are we using time well if we can't place a value on lost time? And whose futures are we experimenting with?

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