Monday, March 26, 2012

State of the State Testing

Oh, joy, the time for state-mandated testing is upon us.

For my school, the brunt of it happened last week. We made a patchwork quilt of our schedule so testing would always be in the morning, but the kids wouldn't miss just their morning classes all week. The kids who had to take it (those in their second or third year of high school) were divvied up into groups and teachers were assigned to administer certain portions of the test.

I only had to miss one class for my test administration. Not bad. But giving these tests to deaf kids is always a big-time drain on the brainpower.

Most of the kids have a testing accommodation on their IEP stating that any test material (other than in the Reading section) can be signed to them. No problem. I handle math stuff in ASL all day.

Except this is totally different.

First, I don't get to see the test until the day of. Second, some math signs are so iconic, they may give away too much information. So I have to read each question, decide what's being tested, and determine which words should be spelled rather than signed.

For example (and these examples are completely made-up and unrelated to any I saw in the test), if a test question said, "What is the numerator of the fraction 4/5?" I couldn't sign "numerator." Why? The sign for it is one hand held flat like a fraction bar and the other making the N-handshape above it. (Guess what denominator is. Yeah, same thing, D-handshape below.)

Another example is "parallel." If a question asked, "Which lines are parallel?" I couldn't use the sign. It's too visual. On the other hand, if a more complex problem relied on the fact that two lines are parallel and some information needed to be derived from that, I could sign "parallel."

It makes my head hurt.

It's a test to gauge mathematical ability, so the accommodation is there to make sure English reading ability doesn't get in the way of the kids showing what they know. But it's such a delicate balancing act between that and giving an unfair advantage.

Anyone else have brain-busting balancing acts going on in their lives right now?

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