Data = Kill Me Now

First up -- my blog is back to normal.  Nothing a little money couldn't fix.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  :)

Second -- the book fair is going on at our school right now.  And one of my favorite moms of all time is in charge of it.  I had all three of her daughters (adorable!!!) and she is just a really neat person.  She is also drop dead gorgeous which makes me feel inferior whenever I stand next to her.  I feel like I am the "before" picture and she is the "after" picture.  But what are you going to do?  I am not from a foreign land, I do not have perfect skin, and I am not tall.  ANYWAYS, she had us fill out our wish lists as usual.  (parents can look at our wish lists and buy us a book if they so choose)  We had to put one wish on one piece of paper and so on.  THEN she put all the wishes into a hat for a drawing (this is new because she is running the book fair) and had our school secretary pull one out.  AND I WON! (and she says it wasn't rigged)  

I never win anything.  GUESS WHAT I WON?  

$75 to spend at the book fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I went a little crazy when it was revealed on an impromptu announcement during our sacred language arts block.  (for once, I was glad for the interruption)  I got my kids a little hyped up, too, as in -- a couple of my stinkers thought they should celebrate with me by standing on their chairs and shouting louder than me.  Hey, I am the one who won.  ME.  Not you, so get down from there and just WATCH me jump up and down on my desk.  Do as I say, not as I do.  For crying out loud.

Last -- I am FINALLY finished with those assessments.  FINALLY.  Hallelujah.  The assessments were actually kind of easy for my kids.  (well, except for those couple of kids who are below grade level and no matter how much I emphasized the correct answer in the choice making process, they did not get the hint.  For example, 9+3.  a) 11  B) 12 or c) 13  I did the best I could.)  The worst part about assessments is what my district has decided to use to compile the results.  TAKE A LOOK:

Yes.  It's a remote control.  I am pretty well versed in this device.  

Originally, they bought a set for student engagement.  Fun!  Each kid gets one and you play certain games and the score keeper or whatever is on the computer so kids can ooh and aah.  You can ask true, false, multiple choice, yes, no, etc.  Great for review.  You can also get very technical and have each kid enter their student number and then when you play, you can INSTANTLY see who gets a concept or who doesn't.  People, this remote control is HUGE for my school because we do not have technology.  Unless you count the phone in my room.

Oh, but we only have one set.  Of 34.  For the whole school.  

But that's okay -- it's only for kinder and first.  HOORAY.  Something is just for us!!!

But we still only have one set.  For 10 teachers.  :(


Here is their bright idea.  Give an assessment.  Whole class.  With paper and pencil.  For example, how about the math district assessment which is 31 problems???  Give that.  But don't let them bubble in their answers.  They should lightly mark it with an X.  In the bubble.  (scan tron machines everywhere are freaking out)  And then give the test.  A couple of hours later, collect the tests.  Then later in the week, when it is your turn to use the remote controls, pass out the tests AGAIN and a remote control to each student.  And have them enter their lightly X'd answers into the remote control.  I don't see any mishaps occurring, do you?  No first grader that I know would be off by a number or two.  Or forget to hit enter.  Or mark A instead of C.  That would NEVER happen in my ship shape classroom.  

The district told us that kids these days play with iPod touches and iPads and video games so much that this would be a piece of cake for them.

We tried to tell them that those things are for FUN and that the scores racked up on those games do not reflect on a sad sack of a teacher.  I mean, COME ON!!!!!!!

So guess what we do?  All of the kinder and first grade teachers at my school and a few of my friends at other schools????? 

You got it.  I sit there after school and enter every answer for every kid from the paper-and-pencil part.  So whatever 29 kiddos times 31 problems equals the number of times I pushed the buttons.  And then I repeated it for the 55 questions on the Language Arts portion.  Needless to say, I am not typing this post with my thumbs.  They are dead.

I would like to know how your school collects data.  Are you more technologically advanced?  I think my district thinks this is the wave of the future or that we are ahead of our time.  This could be because we used to hand write the scores on a grid and just pony them in the mail to the district.  THEN we bubbled scan trons.  And now we're using Technology.  Oh my.

Seriously, I need to know.  Do tell.

I am off to the carnival.  Oh, happy Saturday.  :)


  1. Are our districts brain scientists!?!?!?!?!? They've OBVIOUSLY taught 1st grade and know exactly what will work, right? WRONG! :) Oh geeeez! I'm feelin' sorry for you girl!

    Well, we just use paper and pencil tests, correct them and put their percentages in our google docs data page. We have a whole school google docs file and each grade level has their own tab. Then, the grade levels are sorted by teachers and under each teacher is the name of each of your kids. It's an excel file, so you just go in and type their percentage. So, your scores are viewable to the whole school...no one really cares about that. I like to go in and see how my past students are doing though!

    Sounds CONFUSING, right? It kind of is. hahahahah


  2. Wow! That's crazy. We used to have to do a Benchmark test and the higher-ups decided that we should bubble in every correct answer that the kids had. Well, we fussed because, hopefully, they would miss less than they got right. So the next year, we bubbled in the wrong answers. Now, we do Discovery Ed. testing and we don't even have to grade it. We send it to the company and they do it for us. Much better!

    Swimming into Second

  3. Our district just likes to change our data reporting form every 5 minutes and then tell us it is "exactly the same....but different!"

    Of course none of them are teachers and aren't in a classroom and apparently think we all sit on our bums all day watching kids color so we have PLENTY OF TIME to REPORT all of this stupid data....I'm just a tad bitter about DATA! lol

  4. I'm sorry but that method of collecting data is just ridiculous. I can totally see my district buying into that kind of thing though. OMG. We have to report DRA and DSA and running record data on a website online that who knows looks at it.

  5. LOL, your posts always make me laugh! We do benchmark testing at the end of every 9 weeks and it's paper and pencil. We have to grade them ourselves and write them down on a spreadsheet. It's not very helpful because the benchmarks aren't really comparable to the state tests. Hopefully your district will get the kinks worked out (or get some common sense) before you have to test again!

    Living A Wonderful Life

  6. I don't think our "system" is any better. K/1 teachers enter each test response onto the computer for both math and language arts. Of course, it is almost impossible to do this easily. You scroll across, down, across...I'm sure you understand. Silly. Then, you have to hope the "correct" answers were inputted to the "right" test item to get consistent results. All the other grades rely on scantrons and get their data instantly.

  7. That is the craziest thing I've heard in a while. We are so old school in my district. That may be good or bad depending on who you're talking to....but we do teacher made assessments for math and LA. We do not test our firsties formally except for DRA and running records. It's just not appropriate at that age. So many better ways to assess, don't you think! Sorry about your poor "wittle" thumbs!


  8. Oh my gosh, this is MADNESS!!!! I cannot get over this! I'm sorry you have to go through that whole process, bleck, just awful!

    We have a trimester math test that is scanned at the district and entered into a database automatically. For our writing, spelling, and reading assessements (running records) we score those and enter them ourselves on the database (it's pretty easy though). Sorry Kristin!! Things are so crazy these days, aren't they?

  9. Oh good grief - that sounds miserable. We do the 'ol paper/pencil method. They do have to bubble in their answers (for practice for that big, bad MEAP - our big stakes state test) but not on a scantron or anything. There was talk that all of our tests (even at the elementary level) were going to be done on scantrons and each school would have a scantron reader (no idea what those are called) but that never came to fruition...big surprise.

    We have to give the F & P (say fast and it sounds like 'effin P') which is a glorified running record three times a year and fall and spring writing prompts - that we input the scores on PEARSON. In the spring our kids take the IOWA which are sent out and come back scored.

    We may be low-tech, but compared to what you've got goin' on...I'll take our back woods ways...

  10. I feel your pain. I had to do that with math tests last year and enter all their scores onto a online test. This year all the first graders have to take all their math tests online and they take a weekly L.A. test (Treasures program) online every Friday. All the data is spewed out into graphs and pie charts with percentages and who is failing and what needs to be retaught the next week. It stresses me out to no end to have to go to our monthly Data Team meetings and have to explain why Johnny is failing and what I am doing to fix it. On the flip side, I've never had so much information at my fingertips.

    Teaching First

  11. what??? No girl that's not right. We give with paper and pencil then enter their scores online into a database. Still have to turn every page of the paper test while clicking a minuscule box for each answer of each student's test though. I get off track sometimes and first there is screaming then I have to eat another chocolate and bang on the desk before resuming the entering process...But now I will just feel sorry for you and not so sorry for myself.

  12. Kristin you MUST be in California, too. This sounds VERY much like our District. They make changes every other second to how we should collect the all important *data*. They are constantly handing us new lengthy -NOT HELPFUL AT ALL- assessments. The brilliant minds over here feel that the fine motor skills that the firsties have are perfect for filling in tiny buttons on scantrons. We've mentioned that these tests are more about testing their ability to transfer answers from a test to a scantron (find tiny numbers and the appropriate corresponding A/B/C/D and then fill in it's tiny bubble) than it is testing their academic knowledge. So of course we end up giving them the test and then fill in their scantrons for them based on what they wrote on their test. Yep, we have to do this for each of our 30 students... a zillion questions each. So MANY tests.... so little time.

    Dragonflies in First

  13. I feel your pain! We have been doing this for three years. Every classroom has the remotes but I swear my first graders act like they have never seen them. They put them up to their ears and try to talk into them. Soooo, we take the paper pencil test and submit our answers at the same time=about two hours to take a 22 question test! Then we do it all over again the next day for Language Arts. I am in a 21st century school with more technology than I know what to do with, but this has not sped anything up, made anything easier, or guided my instruction because by the time I am done, I have no hair left, my eyes are fuzzy and I have blocked out all excess noise that sounds like clicking or "help I skipped one". Good luck!!!!!

  14. Testing is sooooo stupid. I don't even know where to begin. My favorite part is "they" tell us that we need to have higher expectations for our students and they will rise to the occasion. Ugh! They are 6 year olds!! I'd LOVE for "them" to come and do the assessment with my kiddos. Then, they change their minds.

    In math, we have to give our assessments "benchmarks" on the computer. Math! Isn't that ridiculous. Also, I'm supposed to bring in the manipulatives with me so they have access to them while they are taking the test. Yeah, like where can the kids put them? In their lap?? It is a nightmare!

    The test is on-line, so the kids have to type in the address to get there. Of course, it isn't an easy address. It is long with letters, numbers, symbols and such. Then, they have to log-in. (Yet, another log-in and password to remember. My mother-in-law can't even turn ON her computer.)

    Then, I have to read each question one at a time. I have to race around the room and make sure no one is clicking ahead, has closed the window, or thrown-up on the machine. We have to wait until EVERYONE has answered that question before we can move on to the next question. Which for some kids can take forever...

    At this point, I feel like taking my pen and stabbing myself in the eye!

    It takes forever. Plus, the geniuses who write the tests couldn't possibly get each question to fit on the screen. So the kids have to scroll up and down to read each question and answer. The clip art sucks and doesn't even match what we are doind in the math series. Ugh!!!!

    Our reading benchmark is a booklet that the kids complete with me and I have to bubble in the results and send it in. I only get 2 days to get this done. We are YELLED at if it isn't turned in on time. Yet, they takes weeks before they post it on-line! So nauseating.

    Then, we have to use another assesment for reading on-line called the FAIR. The teacher inputs everything onto the computer ONE KID AT A TIME. This assessment can take up to 40 minutes per kid. We have to do it three times a year. It took me a month and a half to get my class done this first time.

    There as got to be a better way!

  15. Thanks so much for the sweet comment on my blog! I am now a follwer of your blog too!

    Kelley Cirrito

  16. I love your blog! You make horrible things so funny! We use dibels and our hand held palms to collect the data are dying... We pray over them each time we turn them on.... not half as bad as your district! I wonder how long some of the people who think of these great ideas have been out of the classroom? Hang in there!

  17. i HATE DATA! i mean ahem. yeah. i will say that i have moderately enjoyed the last 2 years in which we have entered our DRA info into iTouches (yes, you got that right), and then the website (Tango) formulates all the data for us. it was great. we were told the other day that we will no longer be using them due to all the technical issues, so we will be going back to pencil and paper in January. GOODIE.

    I seriously feel for you. What is up with people mandating that we do things when they clearly have never set foot in a classroom for more than 8 minutes???

  18. Honestly! I can't believe that crazy remote. My 5 year old has to turn on the TV for me when my husband is not home, but there is no way he could do an assessment on the remote. What in the world?!?!? We do kind of what Rachelle said...enter our scores on a google doc spread sheet, but ours are only visible to administrators in the district. Good grief! Thank goodness you won the book fair bonanza!!!

  19. Thanks for following my blog--you dadgum crack me up, and I love reading your posts! Be sure to check out my classroom blog, b/c I update it all the time, and my teaching blog is brand new and gets the backseat. sooooo sad....:)


    hot dog.

  20. I love reading your posts. You are so funny and honest!

    Assessments have totally taken a front seat in education. What happened to teaching?? The standards keep going up but the amount of time to teach is going down. And what do all of these assessments get you? Data, which would be great, but I don't have any time to use it because I'm too busy assessing!! So frustrating!

    I almost feel guilty posting what our school system does, because it doesn't even come close to yours. Our children all take the DIBELS test for reading. Their progress monitoring scores are turned into the reading coach, who types them up per grade level. The benchmark assessments are done 3 times a year and also reported to the board of ed. The other reading assessments are left up to the teacher. My team has created our own assessments. We have very few for reading (a writing sample, a quick phonics assessment, and weekly reading conferences). We have many other assessments that are mandatory for struggling students, though.
    For math, the only assessment required by our system is Easy CBM (an online benchmark system that's nationally normed). We just started using it last year. The kids will take that test 3 times a year. Just like reading, each teacher creates our own math assessments. We have more of these because our report card is VERY long and detailed. Instead of giving one grade for math they get a seperate grade for every category (counting, number sense, addition facts, subtraction facts, place value, problem solving, money, time, geometry, fractions...). That part can take a little time to assess, but at least it's valuable information that helps guide instruction.

    I'm so sorry you have so much busy work to do. That probably has a lot to do with why so many teachers leave the profession within 5 years.


  21. Wow. I felt like I had seen and heard it all, but using those on district assessments? NO WAY! I had a set of SMART Responders for the SMARTBoard like that, and I love that it engages children and incorporates technology, but I swear I spent the entire time helping children input their answers and figure out how to use them no matter how many times we had went over it. Someone always enters the wrong thing or hits a button and doesn't know what to do. There's no way I would trust district assessments being done with those. I, along with all teachers I know, would have done the same thing as your team.

    In my experience, assessments were either given in a booklet and students marked their answers in the booklet. Then, teachers would switch booklets and grade. Also, I have done the bubble sheet method, but with such young kids, we just always had them write their answer on a piece of paper and we'd go back and bubble in later.

  22. This is so late, but I agree that the remotes are ridiculous for district assessments. We have our lovely mid-year assessments next week. I can hardly contain my excitement! We are a mid-level technology district. We pass out ridiculously long paper tests and have the kids mark their answers. Then afterwards, the teachers sit around an bubble the answers for the entire class. Yes...we have callouses and get totally pissed when we realize that we have filled out an entire scantron sheet for the WRONG student! ARRRGGGHHHHH!!! We eat more chocolate, drink some Diet Coke then erase furiously and start over. Why do district assessments have to be so freakin' ridiculous? I must buy a couple of bottles of wine before next week!