This is probably just going to be a vent because there aren't many of us who have to do this, but the APA might just do me in. For those of you that aren't familiar with this, let me explain what it is. NJ requires 3rd - 12th graders to take state tests. However, for those special education students considered eligible, they do not take the state tests. Instead, their teachers must create portfolios for them demonstrating their acquisition of the grade level content. So, unlike the state test, the teacher has to create the assessments (4 initial and 4 final assessments from different strands of each subject: math, science, and language arts) from scratch, aligned exactly (or it doesn't count at all) with what the state wants. If your student, for example, is to demonstrate an ability to answer a specific type of questions on a non-fiction writing piece, the teacher must either locate or write a non-fiction piece and the exactly those questions that meet the strand’s criteria. Believe me when I tell you that these assessments take a very, very long time to make.
Here comes the fun part. Your student must get under a 40% on the initial assessment. If, on the multiple choice test you spent hours creating, they guess their way to a 40%, YOU fail! You need to start from scratch. You have given an initial assessment that is too easy. You need to keep trying until you make one hard enough that they will fail (get less than 40%). Now you get to teach it to them and then reassess them with a final. The final assessment needs to be different and harder than the initial and if your school is to get credit, they need to score at least an 80%. Even more fun, you only get a very small window to try to teach them this concept that is most likely, way too difficult for them to grasp. Because if they could grasp it, they sure the heck wouldn't be in your class to begin with. Oh, and you get to create your own materials to actually teach these concepts because no one gives them to you.
The cherry on top (pure sarcasm here) is that when you give them initial assessments that they must fail (to show how they don't already know the material before you teach it to them), they get incredibly frustrated and cry because you're making them take a test that they are set up to fail. And if, by some stroke of luck, they don't fail, you have to make new ones and keep giving them until they do fail.
Can you think of any more ridiculous way to assess special education students than this?