Need advice... a fellow teacher sabotaged one of my classes standardized exams...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by aim123, May 27, 2016.

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What should I do?

  1. Discuss it with my administrator

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  2. Let it go

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  1. aim123

    aim123 Rookie

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    Greetings - I'm new to this forum and desperately need some advice on an issue I'm having with another teacher on my grade team. Some background - I teach 7th grade science in a small middle school with about 120 students in the grade, and I teach all the 7th graders. For the most part, there is one teacher that teaches a specific subject for the entire grade. When our students take standardized tests, they always test in the same room with the same proctor. When I proctor students for a standardized exam, I can guarantee that they'll be doing their best possible work - if a kid looks sleepy, I'll encourage him to go splash some water on his face. If he looks discouraged, I'll flash him a smile and a thumbs up. We do stretching and breathing exercises before each test. I do all this because I understand that their scores on these tests (for better or worse) can have a significant impact on their academic records, as well as the rating for whichever teacher is attached to that test. It's unfair, but it is what it is, and I do my best to help them do their best, regardless of whether the test is "my test" or another teacher's test.

    That said, students recently took the standardized test for my subject area, which I prepared them for over the course of the year by embedding similar questions to the test into my instruction (my students always make a lot of growth, so I was feeling really confident in their abilities). After the test, I checked in with the other teacher-proctors to see how it went. When I asked one of the other teachers on my grade level (who teaches a totally different subject) how the class seemed to do, she told me that many kids "didn't do much" and a few kept falling asleep. She even said that she "almost didn't want to wake up" one of our shared students. I was taken aback by her comments, and thought to myself how I wouldn't have allowed that of the children I proctored, for any test. After looking over the booklets of the names she gave me, I discovered that much of the test was left blank - even for components of the test that they knew, and had practiced several times. I knew something had to be up. I also asked some of the other students in the class, and they told me that one of the students she mentioned took a nap during the first half hour of the timed test, pretty much undisturbed by the teacher who was proctoring them. Another student did something similar. When I checked with the students in question, they didn't really have an answer except that they were tired. When I asked them if the teacher encouraged them to focus, they told me she didn't and pretty much left them alone.

    I'm upset and about this and I guess I need some advice about how to proceed. It seems like she intentionally sabotaged our shared students for my test. It's unheard of in my school to allow students to sleep during a test, since these exams have far-reaching impacts on the students and the teachers, and now I'm faced with the fact that these students didn't do as well as they could've or should've due to faulty proctoring, and this will have an impact on my annual rating. If I make noise about this, we'll have a huge breakdown in the functioning of our grade team. Trust is already severely damaged and I'm hurt that she did nothing to effectively proctor these students. What should I do?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I think there are two perspectives on this.

    The first is that I, like you, would wake those kids up. It's absolutely not acceptable for them to be sleeping.

    The second is that I'm not sure what a teacher is actually supposed to do in a case like this. Surely test guides for proctors don't cover this. So, I'm not sure whether waking up a kid would technically be allowed.

    As for intentionally sabotaging, I'm not sure you could go as far as to say that. Every year we have a few students who click-click-click through tests, not even looking at questions. There's not a lot you can do except for stand back and cringe.

    On a side note, this is why standardized tests are totally flawed. Until students have a reason to care, the results are meaningless.
     
  4. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    I would worry about waking them up as being perceived as "improper test aid". Yes, it's the lawyer in me talking, but I see the potential legal issue.
     
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  5. aim123

    aim123 Rookie

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    To clarify, we're allowed to wake them up and make general announcements to the class. For example, if someone isn't bubbling correctly, we can remind the whole class to make sure they're filling in the circles completely. If a student seems sleepy, we're told to tell them to take a walk. It's not supposed to even come to them actually falling asleep. What happened is so against the culture of my school, which is why I'm so upset I guess. :(
     
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  6. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    By standardized tests you mean all forms of summative and formative assessments correct? Teacher generated included.
     
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  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    No, standardized as in the tests that the state, country, or other educational entity require.

    From ASCD.org:

    A standardized test is any examination that's administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner. There are two major kinds of standardized tests: aptitude tests and achievement tests.

    Standardized aptitude tests predict how well students are likely to perform in some subsequent educational setting. The most common examples are the SAT-I and the ACT both of which attempt to forecast how well high school students will perform in college.

    But standardized achievement-test scores are what citizens and school board members rely on when they evaluate a school's effectiveness. Nationally, five such tests are in use: California Achievement Tests, Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Metropolitan Achievement Tests, and Stanford Achievement Tests.

    (This information may be a bit outdated, however, as SBAC and PARCC should be in there I'm sure.)
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    No, I mean until students have a reason to care all our tests are meaningless.

    Why does your statement only apply to the standardized test?
     
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  9. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Because students have a reason to care about classroom assessments, in the form of grades. An "A" or a "D" on a report card means a heck of a lot more to most parents and students than an "at grade level" test result, especially when the result doesn't arrive until months later, as is the case for many of the big standardized tests students are currently taking.

    Also, a student who gets F's consistently on a report card may be held back. Currently, failing the SBAC means nothing where I'm teaching.
     
  10. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So you if the standardized tests gave a letter grade score and the turn around on reporting was a few weeks, your opinion on this would change?

    You want more emphasis placed on the standardized test results, correct? Up to an including retention?
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I'm not sure what the exact answer is, but yes, I think there has do be some benefit or consequence attached to the scores. Otherwise, there's no real motivation to do well unless there's intrinsic motivation, which (despite even the best teacher's efforts) not all students have. Which brings it back around to the OP's situation. If the students had a stake in how they did on this test, they probably would have completed the work instead of sleeping through the exam.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not necessarily disagreeing with anything you say, I am just inquiring. My perception is most teachers want just the opposite.

    Does the same apply to teachers and their effectiveness?
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not sure this is the case where I have worked. Students who take pride in their work, assessments(for whatever reason)..etc during the course of the year correlates almost perfectly with those that put forth a similar effort on a standardized test. Those who do not work hard day to day in class, tend to approach the state test in a similar method. I don't notice a difference and scores on the standardized test correlate well with what they have done all year long. I teach 4th grade, so this may be different for secondary teachers.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I actually hate the tests. I'd rather just get rid of them. But, if they're here to stay, students have to have a reason to care!

    I just think there are so many faults to the tests that no, I don't think they are a fair judge of teacher effectiveness. A helpful tool and one piece of information, yes, but certainly not all information.
     
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  15. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, that's what I was thinking when I read the post.
    I just find it interesting how teacher designed, graded, influenced, interpreted, disseminated, tests are the bees knee, everything else is inappropriate.
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If students don't get the result from a test within days, it is both meaningless and useless for the students themselves.
     
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  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    But lets not pretend that if students did get immediate results that that would change anything.
     
  18. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oh, I certainly wouldn't like them still. The whole high-stakes testing craze sucks, and the sooner it gets exorcised from the American educational system, the better.

    I'm just pointing out that students themselves aren't ever going to find much value from a test if they have to wait weeks or months to see any results from.
     
  19. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    We actually take a few standardized tests, one of which students receive results back immediately. I don't mind these as much, as I can actually use the data to inform my instruction, and the kids like to see whether they've improved.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think it's a stretch to claim that the other teacher sabotaged your students. I would definitely advise against bringing this up to anyone, especially admin.

    I think that students need to accept some responsibility for their own behaviors. Surely students at just about any age understand that falling asleep and failing to bubble in answers (when given adequate time and whatnot) are unacceptable behaviors during a test, particularly an important one. The failings of your students rest solely on the students themselves, not on this teacher.
     
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  21. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    It's so ironic that high stakes testing is supposed to be about accountability and those taking the test aren't often held accountable.
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    If the students told you they were allowed to sleep during a test, a class, that is something that should be forwarded as an irregularity. Those students who slept through part or all of the test could wind up with invalidated scores.
     
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  23. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    If this was a true standardized test the way they are defined for us (AIR, PARCC), you would never be able to flip through the test to see what students did.

    That being said, I don't believe that waking a student up would be a violation of test security.
     
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  24. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    It's all our fault. We're just that evil and wretched, unqualified and uncaring.

    Pearson will fix everything. Or at least make a lot of money trying.

    The only thing aim123 could do is share her concerns with a sympathetic administrator, in the hopes that policies could be developed to curb slovenly behavior. Hope she has one of those around!
     
  25. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    The students didn't do as well as they could've due to their own choices to blow off the test. It is not the proctor's fault. If this impacts their placement into high school, well, it should. Students who don't take school seriously enough to wake up for an important exam should not be attending competitive high schools. Your proctor didn't sabotage the students. They sabotaged themselves.

    Without actually seeing the written instructors to proctors, it is impossible to say if she should have or shouldn't have woken the students up. What matters isn't what the teachers at your school typically do, what matters is what the actual directions say to do. In my state, I would not be allowed to give a kid who looks discouraged a thumbs up. Nor would I be allowed to let a sleepy student walk or go wash his face.

    It is unfortunate that this will affect your rating. That is an unfortunate reality of today's teaching climate. Your frustration should be with the students who decided they didn't care. (That said, in my experience, the kids who blow off the test often believe deep down that they won't do well. So they prefer to blow it off so they can feel that they did poorly because they didn't try, and not because they tried but weren't capable.)

    If you talk to the administrator, it should be in the context of stating that x number of students fell asleep and didn't complete the test, and that is why their scores are lower. And then requesting that the test directions specify what to do in case of students falling asleep. Then if a proctor doesn't comply it would be a test misadministration.
     
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  26. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    I agree with this statement. We as teachers can only do so much.
     
  27. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    If you choose to talk to admin, I think it is important to only share the facts. Example: Some of my students fell asleep during the test. Proctor didn't wake them up etc. Students left even questions they knew blank etc.

    I would be careful and make sure you don't insinuate that your standardized test was sabotaged. That is a personal opinion that probably won't be shared by your admin. It might end up making you look bad instead of shedding light on a proctor not doing as high quality of a job as might be expected.
     
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  28. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Talk to admin. The proctoring teaching was not actively monitoring at all. The fact that she allowed students to sleep and leave large portions of their answers blank shows this. I would be livid if I were you.
     
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  29. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I find it truly difficult to imagine that there's any state out there with such strict proctoring instructions that a quick finger tap on a desk would be considered a testing irregularity. Any proctor who sees a student looking sleepy like that should obviously try to do something to stop it. I also don't really buy that there's any states who would ban a student from standing up to get a drink of water with proctor approval. If there are states with rules that draconian, they need to be getting huge publicity for it.
     
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  30. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    It was NOT her job to wake those kids up. Also, depending on what kind of test this was, YOU may have broken some of the rules. During our end of grade tests we are not allowed to say ANYTHING to students other than what is in the manual. I hate that this happened, but I don't think the other teacher is to blame.
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oh, I disagree.

    I've proctored dozens of these tests in my day. I can remember one test in particular a few years ago where about 6 kids put their heads down during the test. I walked past them frequently, tapping on their desks and whispering for them to sit up and get to work. At least 3 students repeatedly ignored me throughout the whole test. During the last couple of minutes, they sat up and quickly bubbled in random answers. If anyone suggested that I failed to actively monitor them, I'd be pissed. I did my job; the students didn't. Not my fault.
     
  32. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    There is a big difference between being allowed to let the student leave the testing room for the bathroom or water if the student requests it, versus the proctor telling the student to go get water because the student seems sleepy.

    I am allowed to do the former but definitely not the latter.
     
  33. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I agree with Otterpop. Providing timely feedback is an important part of learning and teaching. Students don't learn anything from these tests, and they aren't given feedback on how to do better. Sure the state gets some numbers that they can use to classify students or how well a school does, but it's useless for the students, so why should they take it seriously? And it's mostly useless for teachers, because the feedback provided to us is very late and very vague. I don't even get results for the state tests anymore because they aren't used for anything, while we wait for the new assessments for the NGSS.

    Although I think you can step around students not trying if you teach students the value of trying hard no matter what the challenge. I tell my students not to care about the state tests. Don't study for them, don't worry about them, whatever. We've learned the stuff as best we can, and while it won't affect them in any way, it's an opportunity to test what you've learned. Posed as a challenge to just do their best, this gets more kids going. Afterwards most of them said it was fun and mostly easy.

    As for the OPs problem, I agree that this is poor situation, but I don't know if you can accuse the other teacher of intentionally sabotaging your results. It's likely that the teacher either probably thought that they couldn't wake the student, or they felt bad for the students and just wanted to let them rest.
     
  34. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Just the fact that this is all a conversation shows that testing practices, monitoring, and proctoring are not the same in different schools, which undoubtedly impacts the validity of the data.
     
  35. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If you saw a student coughing uncontrollably during a test, would you suggest a drink of water? If you saw a student sneezing during a test, would you bring them a tissue? If you saw a clearly-upset student looking down at a pencil under another student's desk, would you bring it to them? I'm not seeing how telling a student to get a drink of water when they are clearly out of sorts is any different than any of these.
     
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  36. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Exactly, now imagine what it is like between grades for non standardized tests. Teachers prodding and poking students to get results they want.
     
  37. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yeah, non-standardized tests are by their very definition, non-standardized, and subjective. Standardized tests are much less subjective, but they are not completely objective either. I think they are going to stay and there's no use in arguing to get rid of them but I think those in power should make themselves very aware of the areas in which standardized tests fail at being completely objective, and make sure that their application of these tests reflects this understanding.
     
  38. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree Peregrin, yet where I work so much is supposed to be common formative assessments. I also wish teachers(at least where I work) would stop acting so surprised when they claim their students did so great all year, but did not do so well on the state test. Letting students retake tests(immediately), telling students to recheck this question, do the first 5 questions then show me your answers and work before moving on, having other students read the stories and questions to low students,...etc. Those scores are simply not reflective of what the students can do independently.
     
  39. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    Telling them to get a drink of water when they are sleepy amounts to suggesting a test-taking strategy to them during testing. In my state we can do no instruction on content or test-taking strategies on the day of the test. Telling a student who is coughing to get water would assisting with a "medical need" as well as providing a quiet environment for the other students.
     
  40. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well I would just say that our role as teachers are to teach and to foster learning for students. While those practices you mention are not good for gaining a perfect independent idea of what students have learned or can do, they do help students to learn from these tests, making them good formative assessments (assessments for learning, not of learning).

    So those kinds of assessments might not be great for making certain lasting decisions, but they are good for the learning process and possibly informing teacher where they need to focus instruction on in the immediate future. A future summative assessment (an assessment of learning) might be something that they can use to make any important decisions with.
     
  41. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    You do not have to stop and make them correct mistakes, redo questions, tell them which questions are wrong in the moment for it to be a formative assessment. You can let them take the test, then after the fact go back and look for strengths and weaknesses, not to mention pointing out issues in the moment seems more appropriate to me during activities. I prefer to have students learn these during activities.
     

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