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The district's ELA scrimmage explained

I wrote a blog last week about the poor results the district received on the ELA scrimmage given in the weeks leading up to Christmas. A couple things you should know. I am not a high school ELA teacher and everything I wrote I got from a somebody who is pretty high up the chain who is also in the classroom teaching our kids. I wrote about what they told me and what they believe is happening.

The district had a different take.

Principals and teachers wanted an assessment that would let them know what students know mid-year based on what was already taught and what students know already based on what was not taught. This allows schools/teachers to reteach standards/benchmarks that students did not fully understand through whole group instruction or through small group, teacher led lessons. It also may allow schools/teachers to cover future content faster if students already demonstrate an understanding of a standard/benchmark before it is taught.

Chris, I (superintendent Vitti) was given a copy of your blog regarding the low proficiency that was produced by the scrimmage and how that somehow demonstrates that the curriculum is faulty or that the district is setting up teachers for failure. Those statements misrepresent the role of the scrimmage and how the data should be interpreted. It is not expected that classrooms and schools demonstrate high levels of proficiency right now based on the scrimmage because not all of the assessed benchmarks/standards have been taught. Instead, the more relevant data comes from the standard/benchmark analysis, which is attached. This allows you to see how students comprehend standards/benchmarks that were taught and not taught.  Low proficiency on the scrimmage does not mean teachers are not teaching or that students are not learning. A review of district assessments that cover standards/benchmarks over the years and those used in other districts will tend to yield lower proficiency rates at the midyear point. The focus is isolated standards, not overall proficiency. The isolated standard/benchmark data can be helpful for not only re-teaching them to students but for teachers at a particular grade level or subject level to share strategies on why one teacher’s performance is stronger than another or to provide additional district or school level assistance (i.e. coach, interventionist, district coach) to students who are performing at significantly lower levels than others.

The scrimmage data is also reviewed in concert with Achieve and iReady data, which provides more information on grade level performance and learning growth in the same area.

So there you have it, teachers wanted the scrimmage, the scrimmage tested several things that hadn't been taught yet and it is to be taken in tandem with Achieve and IReady data to get a fuller picture.


  1. Of course he has a different take than that of the teachers. He has no clue what it's like to actually be a teacher. He and the School Board just don't get it and they will continue to lose good teachers until they do!

  2. Reteach? What's that? Elementary curriculum will not allow for that. He did not address the fact that Paxon and Stanton students also performed poorly. Where did the questions come from on these scrimmages?

  3. Vitti is so clueless that it is laughable. There is not one teacher who said they wanted this "scrimmage" (Come on, call it what it is a TEST!! You call it a scrimmage so you can say you've lowered the number of tests that students must take. What a joke!)

    What is the purpose of having a student take an assessment on concepts that have not been taught by the mid-year??? That is absolutely ridiculous.

    Teachers have degrees, degrees from credible teachers' colleges. We know how to assess our students. I could tell you before I give an assessment which students know which concepts since I have been in the classroom with them since August. I look at their homework, and listen to the answers they give when I ask them questions. I do not need to have the district take up 2 class periods, giving them a test...oops, a scrimmage, over concepts they have not been taught. What fool thought that up??

    I hope someone gives you this response, Nikolai Vitti. You need to let your teachers teach and give their own assessments. We write much better assessments than anything I have seen your district write. Some of the questions on your assessments are not even possible to answer. That has never happened on any assessment I have ever written.

  4. A third grade girl I help with reading and math said they no longer need to work on reading journals. A reading journal is when once a week students read a book outside of school and then answer five questions; favorite character and why, favorite setting and why, would you want to be in the book and why, did the story remind you of anything in your life, and the genre. These are valuable questions when reading that make the reader relate to the story. She now reads a one page expository text with preloaded questions. They don't read books in class. Her source of reading is non fiction printed worksheets and iready. I have been able to witness various grades on iready and there are some problems. Some students just click until the correct answer is highlighted so they can move on and get their 45 minutes per week of reading. Some students redo older assignments because it is easier to get their 45 minutes. Some students do not log out properly so their minutes are not recorded correctly. Some students experience their computers freezing, some students are pulled from class for interventions so they lose computer time, and some students are too young to log in on their own so they just sit and stare while their teacher attempts to help most of the class. So much time is wasted on iready with results that won't be as telling as a five minute authentic assessment with the teacher. Math iready is equally as ridiculous. I remember when students were encouraged to read at home and the journals helped them read more, now the journals are gone and reading is boring. Math is confusing and parents aren't sure how to help. My way of math is the "mom" way and it is not encouraged in younger grades. Teachers are frustrated and students are learning to dislike school. How will this help the drop out rate and encourage higher learning? I think it's time to put pressure on the school board by attending the meetings and using the public comment cards to show our support for change.

  5. Quote: "The focus is isolated standards, not overall proficiency."

    Therein lies the problem. The focus should be the kids. Do what Lee Cty did. Get the parents focused. Board members pick the super. If the super isn't focused on kids and justifies the child abuse of over testing by saying it is aligned with even more testing... perhaps they need to align themselves with another super. #yup

  6. As a Duval county teacher, I find it completely unnecessary to spend two weeks testing small children in order to find out exactly what I already know.

  7. That's such a joke. We didn't want this. We were told to give it. The standards that they claim were taught, weren't even EXPLICITLY taught. Guess they expected they would get them through osmosis.
    Many of the questions weren't accurate or written VERY poorly. 3rd grade had a text feature question about footnotes. Footnotes isn't even in our text feature standard.
    And we are supposed to use that in conjunction with Achieve and I-Ready? I wish I had more of my babies on I-Ready, at least that test gives me actual data. Achieve tells me nothing.
    Such a joke!

  8. "Reteach" or "cover future content faster"?? Really?? Not when we are told to be on the CG exactly and to move on even if they don't get it. There is no teacher judgement allowed! We are to teach what they tell us when they tell us to teach it.

  9. If iReady and Achieve are providing teachers with data, isn't the scrimmage redundant? Either the scrimmage is a waste of time because we already have the data we need (from iReady and Achieve) or those programs need to be reconsidered.

  10. I remember when Vitti said that teachers could teach the standards however they chose to. I guess that lasted a minute.

    1. HA! Yup he stated that explicitly in one of the files in the CG last year. So really, that lasted a year.