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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1642 “ What’s Next? Tests and Graduation”

By Ralph Trenary
Berthoud Recorder

The books have been closed on another round of fall and winter. According to the calendars we’re still in spring. I wonder about that with the number of near-record-high-temperature days that have already passed. Still, the rains have been a benefit as the reservoirs are full, the ditches are flowing and the drought has officially been cancelled.

While my farmer and rancher cousins and ancestors are pleased, the teachers are restless. High school graduation was completed, but we will be waiting for the fall to see the CSAP test results for the returning students. Both give cause for concern.

In 1980 I sat on the floor of my high school gymnasium with approximately 400 classmates. The bleachers were filled with family and friends. Sure, it was hot; however, for once I wasn’t sitting in band playing endless repeats of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Those are still good memories in contrast to shipping out for Army Basic Training in South Carolina two weeks later. I already had a regulation haircut from going to National Guard drill for three months. That helped me endure the heat easier than my more fashionable mop-haired classmates.

The Thompson School District experienced what could be called an insurrection this year. The graduating seniors at one of the District’s high school had the audacity to say “NO” to the recent fad of holding graduation in the grand Coliseum at the Interstate Highway. A week later we’re hearing how the costs to operate that place will bring higher use fees.

I must profess my admiration for the students who worked to have their graduation at their school. Perhaps that can be a lesson for the Board of Education to learn what is truly important to students. Graduation on the hallowed school grounds or at the Coliseum on the Interstate may be an easy decision if the masters of that grand facility decide to raise the rent.

That could become a clear-cut financial decision for the BOE. Too bad the CSAPs will once again rise up to show the intrusion of nasty politics into public education. The law that created the unfunded burden of the CSAPs also mandates an Accountability Advisory Committee at each school and at the district level. My past three years on one of those committees have been enlightening.

The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me regarding CSAP. This year I saved the help wanted ad from a newspaper seeking “test evaluators.” It has been explained to me that these are the CSAP-type tests from other states and that Colorado’s CSAPs are graded beyond our borders. Thus, we see how interstate commerce is created by education laws.

My hope for this year is that the education professional that created the high school essay question had more sense than the previous year. There is good reason why the high school writing scores showed a marked decline last year: the question. The expectations are debatable when the test asks “What do you like and dislike about your school?”

I won’t suggest that this question had any chance as a catalyst for the expression of literary skills. The report I received led me to conclude that the question produced enough profanity-laced diatribes that the out-of-state folks hired by the temporary agency to grade Colorado’s tests, refused.

Perhaps that’s why Colorado has a Department of Education and an elected State Board of Education. I have greater confidence in the Thompson Board of Education settling the question of graduation at school or at the Coliseum on the Interstate.

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