The First Quest at the Edu-Mountain.

Our hero doesn't look too happy...because she knows she's bringing them to the SBAC Test.

Our hero doesn’t look too happy…because she knows she’s bringing them to the SBAC Test.

I have to post this before actually enduring the first day of the test…but to a large extent, this is a journey that will be happening five times today. The SBAC test is entirely online, so my students, and their gear, will all need to migrate from my classroom to a computer lab in “the fifties” (the building in numbered with fifties). There…they will all need to be distributed their proprietary, “test only” log on information. At the same time, I will have to use my proprietary “testing session log on” to log on as a teacher, for the testing session.

I then “generate a session” as the teacher, that they can connect to. On screen, I can see the students as they log in, and approve their testing session. I can monitor it, track it, even shut it down and restart it. If a student stares that the same question for twenty minutes, I have a digital record of that…because THAT’s a useful application of technology. Once the sessions are started…that’s pretty much all that I have to do. The real wrestling with monsters, in the form of the test, is done entirely by students.

Since there is no physical copy of the test…there’s no “test security”, nor is there any real way for me to answer a student question. Short of defeating the technical monsters at the front end of each period, I have almost no role other than being the credentialed baby sitter in the room. That in itself can be a problem, though…at this point, my login is a new one, and untried for real testing purposes. If that doesn’t work correctly…who can say what the day will hold?

At the end of each testing period, I will need to painstakingly recollect the student login information, for re-distribution the following day. This involves numerous index cards with stickers on them, and really no margin for error. The logins are so cumbersome, and so “touchy” to begin with, that adding a layer of challenge in lost login cards is the height of self defeating folly. Still…this is pretty much a problem of counting. Bring in as many cards as you handed out, check against the roll book roster. Not exactly brain surgery.

This solemn walk to Testing will happen a total of fifteen times this week, for me. Five times per day…preferably with a modicum of haste and organization. in a fifty one minute period, and time lost in transit from one room to another, and in seating and re-seating students…is pretty significant. If it takes five minutes…which seems trivial…that’s ten percent of the possible testing time. If we then factor in the distribution of those cards, and the session logins taking another five minutes…which is reasonable enough…that’s twenty percent of the testing time thrown away due to organizational matters. We wouldn’t be so happy with say, twenty percent of our dental visit being paperwork and moving from room to room.

Wait….that sometimes kind of happens. My analogy was poor. Or maybe not…I don’t go to dentists with any regularity. Maybe when I go, it’s an Event, and they want to show me the whole place.

In other odd news…apparently the District is generating some kind of MISIS “Special Report.” This report will show all of those teachers that seem to show up regularly as “not submitting attendance.” At the end of the semester, I ran my own report, and spent real time in the office making sure that the system was up to date for me…crossed all of the proverbial t’s. Still…the MISIS system is notorious for straight up losing data submitted to it, so I wonder what that report could even show. It would show a perfectly debatable report of “Attendance Not Submitted.”

Still…I’ve been pretty diligent about making sure that was perfect, because of all the things teachers wrestle with, Computer Driven Attendance is my own personal Bear. I have little notes around the room to remind me to do it, and assign a student to nag me about it. The system itself has these very helpful red markers that appear now, if you have not sent in the attendance. All in all, for the first time, I know for certain that if there is a problem, it couldn’t possibly be on me…it has to be a database issue.

As silly as it is, I’m actually rather proud of that.

Probably because it represents getting better at something you know you haven’t been too great at in the past, even if it’s kind of a silly thing. Don’t get me wrong…school attendance is actually not a silly thing. It’s very serious, and attached to some really important stuff…like federal funding and alibis in legal cases. It’s just the kind of thing that seemed less important than teaching English, so instead of developing a real procedure for it, prior to this year I had “work arounds.” A daily assignment that I could look back to, with the date on it, and thus confirm or deny student attendance. Or writing it down on paper, and entering it at the end of the day.

Now…silly as it is…I pretty much get it done about ten minutes into class, every period, every day. I try not to do it before that, because some students might be tardy, as a one off…and it seems silly to hassle them, if they were say…staying late in a class to finish a test or assignment. At my old schools, the excuses weren’t that kind of thing….so it was more sensible to be a hardcase. Not so much here.

About the art…the protagonist, complete with noodle cape, is leading a troupe of student Edu-Squires to the Testing. There’s all sorts of stuff going on, sort of a Bazaar environment as she leads them past the other Edu-Things happening, some of them distracting. Note that none of the Edu-Squires are all that super-evolved yet…they might have a few animal like characteristics, like pointed ears, scruffy hair, inplied fangs, odd proportions…but they aren’t bestials yet. That’s what the Testing is for, to a degree.

They were fun to draw. The characters and backgrounds were a hassle, but fun at the same time.

That’s all the boring, administrative stuff going on at the Edu-Mountain this week. At least tomorrow’s post will have the advantage of being able to be about anything that went wrong today.

Or it will be about Marvel Comics’ “Civil War II.” I haven’t decided yet.

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