Sunday, May 6, 2007

Last week was an interesting week

Bits and Bobs.

~The vet had us deworm our cats. They are 4 months old, and one is significantly smaller than the other two. The pills we were given were huge for people so I crushed and mixed with wet cat food. Being cats, they decided to go hungry instead. I locked them in separate rooms with tiny bowls of food as their only diversion. No go. I figure each ate about 1/2 what they were given, so next week we get to go through this again, but I think we'll be shoving it whole and hoping they don't choke. The cats are clawed, so that should be fun. They need to be fixed ASAP as well. With two males in the house, we're having things "marked" and I'm way past being tolerant of that.
~My search for CFLs for Consulate housing continues. I made it to a shop on Eldams Road that did have Philips warm white 23W lights with bayonet fittings, great for the standard housing fixtures. The lamps in the houses are all American standard screw base, so while I did find some generic brand of warm white screw base lights, they were not the tornado version, so they are too tall to fit under a standard lamp shade. The search continues.
There is a concern over proper disposal of spent fluorescent lights. CFLs contain mercury that is poisonous, so dumping the lights in the trash and having them crushed is not exactly a healthy option. If you're in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Georgia, Massachesetts or the rest of New England, check out the AERC website to find your local recycling solutions. Hey, you're not supposed to dump car oil down the drain (bring it to your local car shop, Pep Boys, dealership...) or throw batteries in the trash either (check out for recycling spots), so this is just another step in your monthly recycling circuit.
~I went to the orthodontist on Saturday morning. With hopes of greater options than 15 years ago when I went with my mom to the ortho, I was disappointed to learn that because of the shape of my mouth and where the bones are, surgery is still my only realistic option for fixing the overbite. With a 7mm space, just braces will only pull them 1-2mm back, my upper teeth are too near the surface of the gum to pull back any further as they'd loosen from the bone. It's not that my teeth are all wacky, it's that my jaws are out of line. I can have bones broken up, put back together, teeth yanked, braces put on and face the next 2 1/2 years in pain. Or I can suck it up and accept that my mouth is simply like this. Even the ortho agreed that while surgery was the best option, it was not a good option. I'm guessing that even when I have a mouth full of dentures, it'll all look the same. Oh well.
~IOWA tests. What is the purpose of IOWA testing? I've heard that there are kickbacks/bonuses/penalties to a school or teacher depending on the students' scores, but for a school like AISC, what does the IOWA test mean, if anything, to the school? And if it doesn't mean anything to the school, what does it mean for the kids?
Here's what it says from the ITBS website, and I'll pick the Grade Equivalent scoring just as an example:
Grade Equivalent (GE)
The grade equivalent is a number that describes a student's location on an achievement continuum. The continuum is a number line that describes the lowest level of knowledge or skill on one end (lowest numbers) and the highest level of development on the other end (highest numbers). The GE is a decimal number that describes performance in terms of grade level and months. For example, if a sixth-grade student obtains a GE of 8.4 on the Vocabulary test, his score is like the one a typical student finishing the fourth month of eighth grade would likely get on the Vocabulary test. The GE of a given raw score on any test indicates the grade level at which the typical student makes this raw score. The digits to the left of the decimal point represent the grade and those to the right represent the month within that grade.
Grade equivalents are particularly useful and convenient for measuring individual growth from one year to the next and for estimating a student's developmental status in terms of grade level. But GEs have been criticized because they are sometimes misused or are thought to be easily misinterpreted. One point of confusion involves the issue of whether the GE indicates the grade level in which a student should be placed. For example, if a fourth-grade student earns a GE of 6.2 on a fourth-grade reading test, should she be moved to the sixth grade? Obviously the student's developmental level in reading is high relative to her fourth-grade peers, but the test results supply no information about how she would handle the material normally read by students in the early months of sixth grade. Thus, the GE only estimates a student's developmental level; it does not provide a prescription for grade placement. A GE that is much higher or lower than the student's grade level is mainly a sign of exceptional performance.
In sum, all test scores, no matter which type they are or which test they are from, are subject to misinterpretation and misuse. All have limitations or weaknesses that are exaggerated through improper score use. The key is to choose the type of score that will most appropriately allow you to accomplish your purposes for testing. Grade equivalents are particularly suited to estimating a student's developmental status or year-to-year growth. They are particularly ill-suited to identifying a student's standing within a group or to diagnosing areas of relative strength and weakness.
(Emphasis added by me.)
I have an e-mail in to the school counselor, just waiting for a reply, to hear her input on the "purposes for testing." If I have a kid who seriously excels, or not, what is the next step? Or is there a next step?

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