¿Que es Más Estúpida? The Ultimate Battle of NM PED v. APS

One would think New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera is experiencing some professional discomfort these days. The travails are such we need a list o’ bullets:

Ms. Skandera is on a losing streak of such length that she’d been fired long ago by any baseball team or Fortune 500 company. Fortunately for her, she has two things going for her:

  1. She works for Fortune 500 companies through the guise of “public service,” and those companies don’t give a damn if the public school system collapses any more than they cared about derivatives causing “irrational exuberance” leading to the Great Recession. In other words, Skandera works for folks “shorting public school stock.”
  2. She can always say, “Well, yeah, I am demonstrating an increasingly incompetent form of leadership, one for which I deserve derision and calls for my ouster, but hey, at least I’m not Albuquerque Public Schools!!!”

Yeah, Skandera can always play the “APS Sucks More” card and she did just the other day when referring to an NM Legislative-requested audit which found (AMAZING as it may seem) that there’s too much standardized testing in New Mexico. And the sad truth is that she has a scintilla of a point.

Because APS does suck. It’s really awful. It’s ridiculously bad. No, it’s nowhere near as corrupt, venal and mendacious about it (okay, maybe it’s just as corrupt), but it’s almost, damn close, to as incompetently run as Skandera’s PED.

It’s actually quite a contest.

Right now, students and teachers in APS are subject to “interim assessments” at the middle school level, and I can’t for the life of me find one actual dictate from any entity, federal or state, requiring us to have them. On top of that, the two middle school test windows are a strange “okay, let’s put these tests in the only places where we don’t already have tests!” configuration. The first one is now, the second one is, as this link shows, at the end of January.

In other words, we’re having a test now and another one right at 40 school days from now. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that teachers/students know next to nothing about these interim assessments, only that one is online and the other isn’t.  We sure as hell don’t know what the scores mean, if the second test score is supposed to be dramatically higher to show we’re teaching the content right….nothing.

These “interim assessments” have about as much meaning as a Hanna Skandera column in the Albuquerque Journal. And that’s saying something. It’s damn hard to mean any less than that.

So the battle rages on. Skandera/PED laughably tells us it will conduct an investigation of itself over the Mora Superintendent debacle, somehow expecting us to believe it won’t be biased and sugar-coated.  APS has the whole Valentino, et. al. (insert curse words here). Back and forth it goes, self-inflicted blow after another! Who is winning this vicious battle of incompetence?

I don’t think I need to mention who is really losing this battle.  No, I think that’s pretty obvious.

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3 thoughts on “¿Que es Más Estúpida? The Ultimate Battle of NM PED v. APS

  1. We have interim assessments from APS at the elementary level as well – grades 3 through 5 in both Language Arts and Stepping Stones math. For those who don’t know, Stepping Stones is a math program that we are told to follow with fidelity, regardless of whether the students ‘get it’ or not. Although I’m a teacher and know that all of these tests have an impact on my evaluation, I worry most about the students; how devistated they will feel about their test scores once they see them. Students work hard, they care about their education, they learn to believe in themselves by seeing themselves progress in class. Just because a test (e.g. PARCC) is developed to measure our ‘higher expectations’ of students, doesn’t mean that developmentally, those students are able to meet the standards of that test.

    I’m also very disappointed in all of this talk of the amount of testing time being the lowest it’s been in years; even the White House gave kudos to the New Mexico PED for lowering the testing time. Yes, the amount of time is lower because there are time limits given for students to complete the tests. What happens to the students who are trying to do their best, rechecking their work (as we encourage them to do) and wind up only half finished with the test when their 65 minutes are up? Why are 5th grade students expected to not only answer multiple choice questions and give short answer responses to multiple readings, but also asked to write an essay answering a writing prompt in a 65 minute time frame? Last year my students were so worried because they weren’t allowed to complete their test at another time (as had been allowed with the previous SBA standardized test). Regardless of student abilities (Special Education students take the same test as all students with the same time constraints), how much time it may take students to comprehend what they have read, understand the questions being asked of them, or to plan an essay and write it, there is a time limit. What happens to the parts of the tests they weren’t allowed to complete because ‘time was up’? If they didn’t get to finish, are those unanswered questions, incomplete essays counted as wrong? Are students being penalized because they aren’t fast enough? Did this have anything to do with the test scores being ‘low as expected’?

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