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Benchmark Overload


Epiphany in Baltimore, a high school English teacher, is fed up with the “benchmark” tests he is supposed to administer to students in preparation for the state's High School Assessments (HSAs). The system, he says, is an inefficient mess:

The benchmark tests have been nothing but the recycling of HSA questions already released on the Maryland State Department of Education website. Basically, the [Baltimore City Public School System] is spending nearly a million dollars to a company to recycle and repackage questions into benchmarks for the students of Baltimore, something that any teacher worth his snot has already done. It's a ludicrous waste of money and resources.

To make matters worse, even though students took the HSAs last week, Epiphany says teachers are now being required to administer a benchmark test as a final exam. He's hoppin' mad:

[T]hat means that the last day of regular classes ... will be taken up by giving this [expletive] benchmark that is supposed to be preparing kids for a test that THEY HAVE ALREADY TAKEN! ... For the city to require these benchmarks AFTER the actual test has been taken, instead of actual classroom instruction, is simply terrible. ...
I’m so sick and tired of dealing with incompetent people who think that teachers just don’t care enough to care about this sort of thing. I’m tired of not fighting harder, of placating in any way ... The poorly-organized and educationally-unsound program just reeks of pushing papers instead of teaching kids, and that’s more tragic than any sort of low test score results could show.

WOO HOO! I agree with him totally. My old school district also did a lot of benchmarking and it wore the students out by the time the test came. And they also started making it part of their grade.

When you take a job in the real world, you might be given an small test. I remember a test at a store that asked me to do some basic addition and then some personality questions like have I ever stolen or told a lie. Then we were told that we still needed to pass an applications test. We had to actually be able to apply our knowledge and personality by doing the job for 3 months. If we passed - if we could show the process of thinking and reacting to customers the right way - then we would get a raise and know that we were considered permanent help, qualifying us for benefits.

As a teacher, you have to show that you are competent. Not through a series of tests, rather through application. You have leaders who come through and observe you, give you feedback, etc. Observation of you applying the knowledge you gained in the area of education, not some standardized test, is how you keep your job.

Give this guy a chance to sit on a reform board for education. Kick off the politicians and give educators a chance to do their job!

WOW!!! We had the same thing done at our school district. So ridiculous!!! What they are paying so much money for, teachers were already doing. What I would like to see is teachers being able to assess their own students on what they feel is pertinent to be assessed on and creating their own benchmarks. Teachers are teaching their students what they need to know. Lord knows accountability is a major factor. I don't foresee us teachers not doing what we NEED to be doing when that big A word is hanging in the balance. I almost feel as though these "higher-ups" think they know our students better when in reality we are the ones who work with our students on a daily basis, rather hourly basis. I love my job but this getting more and more outrageous these days!

Who's incompetent? You must know in order to write such a public rage. Does someone think your students can and should learn more than under your schedule?

Taking a benchmark with questions they've already seen, just days after they've taken a 3-hour state test over the same stuff? That's "learning"? Did you understand the post, or do you really think that taking a test is learning?

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • epiph: Taking a benchmark with questions they've already seen, just days read more
  • Bob: Who's incompetent? You must know in order to write such read more
  • Marcie Arredondo: WOW!!! We had the same thing done at our school read more
  • Danielle: WOO HOO! I agree with him totally. My old school read more




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