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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

WAG the dog

At yesterday's staff meeting (now weekly, and in Technicolor!), a request was made of the TAKS- level teachers. Actually, calling it a request is like calling a shark attack a love nibble. It was a command.

Our principal wants TAKS predictions. When I first saw the bullet that said "TAKS predictions" on our agenda sheet yesterday, my first thought was ok,um I predict somewhere between 30 and 40 questions; I predict 3-4 reading passages; I predict multiple-choice answers...

But of course that's not what she wanted. She wants us to predict what percentage of kids will pass the TAKS tests. That in itself is not at all unreasonable or difficult. We all have a pretty good idea of our kids' capabilities, and while there are always a few surprises on test day (usually in a positive sense), we know who is most likely going to pass and who is most likely not.

However, pass/fail data was not all that she was asking from us. She also wants a list of gains. This really seems to be the big buzzword with her this year. I have lost track of how many times I've heard the word "gains" in meetings, on the announcements, in e-mails, etc. Maybe for her birthday, I'll get her a big jug of GAIN laundry detergent.

Anyway, my buddy Ed U Cater blogged about this over at The Head of the Class. I really think you should go and read his post before continuing with mine. He summed things up pretty well.

Back? Okay then, continuing....

In engineering, we frequently used the term "WAG." When we were unsure of a customer's electrical input capacity, we used WAG. When the application temperature was unknown, we used WAG. When a fellow engineer hadn't returned from lunch for over two hours, and people were wondering where he was, we used WAG.

In case you were wondering, WAG means "Wild Ass Guess."

That's basically what we're being asked to make here. What's the difference between a 1900 and a 2000 on the TAKS? It could be as random as whether or not the child got to wear his/her favorite socks that morning.

Now, Ed and the other fourth and fifth grade teachers have a little bit of an advantage over me and my third-grade team. They can at least look at each kid's TAKS scores from last year, take their WAG, and then calculate a gain or a loss. But kids don't take the TAKS in the second grade, so we don't have a comparable score to base the gain or loss on. I got the impression that we are supposed to look at last year's ITBS scores and somehow base an improvement number on that. Maybe I can find some secret file online that divulges the conversion rate between ITBS and TAKS. I have a feeling that it's listed along with the conversion rate between tons and metric buttloads.

I wonder if I would be viewed as a smart ass if I included a prediction of the temperature, humidity, and pollen count for TAKS day. I mean, I feel like I would be just as accurate with those items as I will be with the test scores.

And we have to have the predictions in by THIS Friday. Well, I guess if Jack Bauer can save the FREAKIN' world in 24 hours, I can crank out a WAG in a few days.


HappyChyck said...

I really need to remember WAG.

Last year I sat in a two hour meeting with the other 8th grade English and math teachers where the administrator read names from a list and we had to say whether we thought a student would pass the CRT and Writing Exam. Geez! I dunno. It could happen, but the kids really don't care about all this testing business, no matter what we tell them about the importance.

Thank goodness I didn't have to figure any gains, but considering the lame things I have to do all in the name of testing this year, I am sure it's coming.

Anonymous said...

Mr Teacher, here is the address for a Random Number Generator:

Maybe you can use it to remove the G from your dilemma.

Pick a child,
randomly generate a number within parameters you set,
Give that child the number,
Apply for a non-testing area next year.

Glad to be of service.


100 Farmers said...

No, no. I have a better one. We actually have a pool which runs every staff meeting to see who can come closest to the actual number of times that "RIGOR" is mentioned. God Bless our pointy-haired administrators.

Mister Teacher said...

Farmers, niiiiiiiiice. When I was in engineering, I used to get SO sick of hearing upper management use the phrase, "thinking outside the box." I guess buzzwords exist no matter where you go.

J, I think a random number generator just might do the trick...