When most people recall their education, it is usually filled with memories from middle school and grammar school – lifelong friends, memorable teachers, fun projects and perhaps a first crush. However, when I think of my high school education, it is filled with disappointment over the New York City Department of Education.
When I think of the NYC DOE, one acronym comes to mind: MoSL. Those measly four letters send shivers down my spine. On October 22nd, I was given a test that was an inaccurate measure of my education. The teachers didn’t want to administer this exam and as a student I never wanted to take this exam. In the English department alone, 1300 exams were administered.
Considering the answers for the original baseline assessment were placed on a website, cnf101.com, by MoSL specialist and teacher, Kerry Powers, before many students took the exam, one would expect the assessment would be invalidated.
Unfortunately, despite this leak the tests are being deemed credible. If it wasn’t embarrassing enough to spend three days on an assessment, which by no means represents the students’ capabilities as writers or students, the geniuses in the Department of Education thought it would be a good idea to try this again. Approximately three days are spent taking these exams during the beginning of May.
Students and teachers should not be concerned with this essay exam, when they could better use that time to prepare students for the Regents, an exam that actually matters. These are three days that are not spent on studies and lessons, and they can not be given back. “We did our best concerning the MoSL. We tried to incorporate the argumentative essays that appear on the Regents into the assessment writing as a way to demonstrate how well they have taken instruction during the year. It was not out of the blue, and the timing could have been better, but we made the best of the situation,” said the AP of English, Mr. Deconzo.
There are approximately 180 school days a year and there is a lot of time wasted already. According to sagepub.com, an accumulated 50-60 days a year are wasted on starting class (attendance and having students settle down), early finishes (teachers rush through their lessons), and individual dismissals (students getting out of a class early for a sporting event or club). No wonder teachers are trying to avoid wasting another three days. While MoSL did infringe on Regents prep time, not everyone’s time was wasted. According to English teacher, Ms. Boylan, “My class was the only class in Curtis that was not required to take the assessment. Due to the Regents and the new Common Core Regents, it was not mandated of me.”
How do you expect teachers to finish their curriculum when the DOE tells them they have to spend multiple days on a single essay that determines whether or not they were successful in improving the academic growth of their students? Perhaps the student was sick or on the brink of exhaustion that day.
Determining whether or not a poem provides for a “sense of place” should not be the sole indicator for measuring a teacher’s effectiveness or how much a student learned in one particular class. One essay should determine neither student growth nor a teacher’s capabilities. Also, the assessment topics bore students to the point that they are falling asleep while writing their essay. “The topics should follow the Danielson Rubric. This means that it should relate to the teenager’s lives and be something that they care about, also connecting the topics to what is being done in the classrooms. Whether the topic is technology, getting into college, or being a teenager, it should be relatable and something that they care about,” said Mr. Deconzo. The Juniors had to write an essay comparing an excerpt form Langston Hughes’ novel to one of his poems, arguing which gave the reader a greater “sense of place.”
On top of being boring and taking up valuable real estate in a lesson plan, they are expensive. Teachers are being paid to grade these essays on the weekend and after school. At $40.98 an hour per session, these tests are costing the school thousands of dollars, money that should be spent elsewhere. New York is already paying for Regents, so why create another test to measure the same thing?
The DOE has no idea what it’s doing and the only way to make them realize how much the assessments harm us is to let them know.
This is my way of letting them know.