Educator Says Testing This Year “Not Gonna Work”

Here are some points about administering testing this year from Brandy Alexander, a Texas testing coordinator and one of my former graduate students at UT-Austin. Here’s what she had to say about the difficult of high-stakes testing in the midst of a pandemic.

We just met this morning to lay some ground plans for first administration and here’s why it’s not gonna work:

Online kids are not going to come to campus when covid numbers are rising exponentially on our campus/district. There’s no way, parents already talking about refusing.

Kids on a mandatory quarantine because of contact tracing won’t be able to test on scheduled dates.

Transportation – we don’t have the space on buses or extra buses or bus drivers for the influx of online students coming to school to test in a secure environment, would be a logistical nightmare.

In a perfect world, let’s say every kid was healthy and could attend and get to school… We have no space to fit everyone 6 feet apart. TX gives ONE day for paper administration, and one month for online, so we assume with the month given for online admin, we’ll do online testing… but laptops have been backordered since April 2020 for many manufacturers. Only kids online and quarantined are prioritized a laptop so we’d have to move kids over to paper with no laptop. This means we’ve had to hold individual IEP meetings, a ridiculous amount of additional student meetings, fixing online admin to paper. Time where tons of people have to be in these legal meetings instead of in classrooms.

Then, thinking about testing supports that a % of our kids use. To practice online supports, you have to have devices to qualify for “regularly, independently, effectively” so you HAVE to use paper, if that makes sense. So you get get back in the paper admin loop of impossibility.

Logistically it just isn’t possible BUT let’s say it was and everything above works out, there are two huge stopping points:

1. We simply don’t have the staff. We had 20 teachers out today. Most of those on two-week quarantines. We get an allotment of 2 covid subs, so paras (uncertified teachers) cover classes. They can’t cover during state tests. How do we even administer securely?

2. Big picture right now: There’s no infrastructure in districts for state testing. So there’s no top-down directions on what to do at campus levels, so campuses have no directions on how to start getting parents on board with kids coming on campus to test, how to talk to transportation about getting kids to campus. District testing compliance offices are skeleton crews of PD professionals, and spreadsheet checkers, they’re not on campuses seeing/living in this mess. Everything coming from district level is, “that’s a campus decision for handling that.”

I just don’t see how any entity could believe, after listening to campus testing coordinators and/or principals, how high stakes testing could even be done in a secure environment. Since you can’t, there’s no way the data could be valid. Even if you take accountability measures out of it, the time needed to even “try” a state test is just beyond logical during this time where kids have a choice to be off campus.

Don’t forget to join us tonight for a high-stakes testing townhall!

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