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CSAP stands for Colorado Students Appreciate Perspective

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There is a fifth season in Colorado.

It is tightly wedged between winter and spring, overlapping both slightly. You won’t find the kids of our state screaming down ski slopes or romping in glorious sunshine with fat and happy robins, though.

Instead, they are curled over desks in silent classrooms. This fifth season features days which are long and marked by the sounds of scratching pencils and deep sighs. A timer runs silently, marking minutes off one-by-one as pages in booklet are turned. Math facts are fished out of brains and short paragraphs are read and hopefully comprehended at levels which will allow schools to steam forward for years to come.

It’s CSAP time.

Any parent who has had kids in the school system longer than 10 minutes knows this is when schools send home helpful hints to help grades 3-12 succeed and shine.

We are told to feed our children a healthy breakfast after a good night’s sleep. They are to be delivered to school on time and brimming with words of loving affirmation. Don’t dress them uncomfortably, don’t schedule doctor appointments or vacations to Disneyland. Don’t pick them up early.

Tell your child you love him or her. He will do great! She will do awesome! And then there is the unspoken and unwritten vibe: Everything is riding on these little ones…

Schools have been shut down over poor CSAP scores.

I approach the tests with resignation and slight irritation. Another thing parents understand is that each individual school is so much more than the results of a two-week span of testing can ever show. I really love my children’s school and believe they are receiving a top-notch education. I also know they aren’t one of the top CSAP schools in the state.

That doesn’t matter to me.

The quality of my children’s education is demonstrated when we sit down around the dinner table and discuss what each child learned that day. Everything from the human heart to Benjamin Franklin’s stove to long division triumph is remembered and recounted.

Too bad CSAP can’t stand for Colorado Schools Assessment Potluck. I can see it now:

Huge tables, covered in floral tablecloths, are set up in a sunny field. Kids are seated around plates of macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and pancakes. Ice cold, foamy mugs of chocolate milk are sipped in between answering questions lobbed by friendly people with small, unobtrusive clipboards.

I bet the discussion would reveal more than any bubble-filled sheet ever could. Nobody would be stressed, except for the person who notices the potato salad is running low.

Yes, schools need to be held accountable. Standardized testing is the easiest, cheapest, most obvious method of demonstrating competency and progress. My hope for Colorado’s schools and students is that everyone does their best. I also hope we remember that when the scores come out and the papers and TV stations opine on what it all means, we can maintain proper perspective.

My kids are more than their test scores, and so are schools.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Katherine March 4, 2009

    Ok..here goes. I hate CSAP with a deep passion. I was in 10th grade the very first year that CSAP was ever adminsitered. The test is a total waste of time. I took honors classes in high school and we actually had to adjust our classes to learn to the test. The reason for this…on CSAP there is ONE right answer. And it is the answer acceptable for your grade level. If you read or write or complete math at a higher grade level you will be penalized. I scored above proficient in math which is my worst subject, but I knew the material right at my grade level. However on the english portions I scored on the low end of proficient, as did most of my honors english class. Totally Ridiculous!

  • comment avatar Hilary March 4, 2009

    Touche!
    mommynmartinimommynmilk.blogspot.com

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  • comment avatar Anonymous March 4, 2009

    I could not have said it better myself!

    I get very frustrated at the CSAP testing.
    I am thankful that my junior is out of it and is taking ACT/SATs now.

    However the other five are subject to that testing still.

    I feel as if the teachers have their hands tied and are spending so much time teaching for these standardized tests, that the freedom to teach with the love they went to school with is halted by the demands of the CSAP requirements.

    I understand the accountability requirements of state testing, I get that we need to hold schools and administration accountable for the education system. What I don’t understand is why we are still using a system that changed the whole aspect of teaching and forced teachers to teach only certain things.

    We did not have these testing when we were all kids, and I think I turned out pretty good.

    (Though, in Texas we have the TASP test. Required before we get out of high school.)

  • comment avatar Amber March 4, 2009

    Ahhhh, just a few more years and this will be me!

  • comment avatar Alison March 4, 2009

    Beautiful. Thank you for the perspective. My son is barely 20 months, but I am already dreading the CSAP. We’ll have to work on the Assessment Potluck…what you say is so true!

  • comment avatar Joanne March 4, 2009

    Yay for potlucks! I think you should present the idea to our legislators. The way I see it, almost anything goes.

    For me, this is the first year I am loving CSAP’s. Gasp! Did I really say that? Oh yes I did. My youngest is a junior and gets to go in to school at 10:50 every single day, which means, I get to sleep in each & every morning. Woohoo!

    http://www.live4truth13.blogspot.com/

  • comment avatar Jess March 4, 2009

    I couldn’t agree more. Although, I’m not yet there with my son, I’m not looking forward to it – and we’re homeschooling! (Homeschool students have the choice of CSAP or evaluations, if we can’t manage to afford evaluations, we will have to go through CSAP).

  • comment avatar AprilMay March 4, 2009

    I SO want to teach at your school.

    http://www.shmoo2.blogspot.com

  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist http://thecasualperfectionist.com March 4, 2009

    Luckily, we’re not there yet age-wise for our daughter.

    That being said, I had standardized tests every year I was in school. We had ITBS (Iowa Tests of Basic Skills) for Elementary and ITED (Iowa Tests of Educational Development) in Junior High and High School. It was just a given that we’d have to do these tests yearly, and the way the school system was, they weren’t that big of deal.

    The curriculum we had was topnotch, and we didn’t have teachers “teaching to the tests,” etc…but lots of criteria were different, not only back then, but in that particular state.

    (The ITBS and ITED have been used for years in a lot of states across the nation…not just the Midwest where I grew up. I could be really dorky and tell you that a form of those tests have been administered in Iowa since 1935…but I digress.)

    Honestly, I haven’t even looked into what is happening in Colorado with the CSAP, but from what I’m hearing, it’s not as good a system as it was in my home state.

    Good luck to all of you who are in the trenches now!!

  • comment avatar Michelle March 5, 2009

    I can’t wait to hear your take on the SAT/ACT. K is taking her’s starting Monday, which everybody has off but her. Not a happy high schooler. A potluck would probably make it a little better lol.

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine March 5, 2009

    i am not a fan of the csap’s. my biggest complaint has always been on how much time prior to the test the schools take to prep the students. some times it’s up to 3 weeks. so i would see my kids missing out on a month’s worth of teaching and i always felt that was wrong.

    my kids are now in colege and i thought my time dealing with these tests were over. but i took a job as a tutor in the school district last fall. and for the past week and a half i’ve had to “help” students get ready to take the tests. not necessarily dealing with subject matter but what are good test taking strategies, how can you manage your test taking time better, and stuff like that. stuff kids have heard since 2nd grade. they didn’t need to waste time with this, imho.

    and i got another perspective these last two weeks. the teachers don’t like them either. most of them told me they would rather have the time to teach – not prep for a test.

    http://www.sunshine-on-my-shoulders.blogspot.com

  • comment avatar beck March 6, 2009

    Ontario schools do testing in grades 3 and 6 and poorly performing schools – nearly always in poor areas, like this one – are publically shamed. And then given more funding for hopeless literacy funding, which is supposed to make up for the already-doomed children from these bookless, absent-parent households.
    Anyhow. My Girl was sick for much of the testing last year and her teacher was in a dither because she was one of the two kids that he expected to PASS. Sigh.

  • comment avatar Kandis March 25, 2009

    I would like to clear up a couple of things in your post. First don’t get me wrong as an educator we don’t like CSAP either. However it is for grades 3-10 and 11th graders take ACT that helps get them in college. Most schools provide free breakfast to kids during CSAP at the high school level. On average at the high school level they test for 3 days for 2 hours at a time. Most kids do not use this time but it is given. For my fifth grader she tests for 3 weeks for 30 mins a day. They do one test a day. This was same when she was in third and fourth grade. I do think that CSAP is cumbersome however there still needs to be a way to track a teachers performance, a students performance and a schools performance. Just my 2 cents.

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