Thursday, April 3, 2014

TASC--My Task for Today

TASC--the Test Assessing Secondary Completion--is the new "GED" for Indiana and three or four other states.  It went into effect on January 1, 2014 and its implementation seemed a good signal for me to retire.

This morning I went to a Work One adult education class where one of my former colleagues gave me the practice test.  I was curious as to how all the warnings and reassurances would play out.  I took three of the five tests, leaving math and language for later.

The material on the reading test was interesting and accessible.  There were definitely fewer questions of facts and vocabulary and far more of interpretation and comparison.  Testing higher level reading skills is fair enough.

The social studies test seemed quite easy.  There were questions based on The Declaration of Independence, concepts like balance of powers, and basic economic ideas like supply and demand--much of it based on knowledge anyone who is well read or who listens to the news would know.

Then there was the science test!  I did not know enough about physics, geology, genetics, chemistry, and other branches of science to do well.  In fact, I got frustrated enough to fail to go back and guess on a few items I had left blank.  Amazingly enough, the bar for passing was set so low that I did pass the test.  But I could envision a student test-taker with less confidence or chutzpah than I had just giving up!   There is no way an adult education teacher could cover all of these areas in 6 to 12 hours of week of class time.

I do not envy my former colleagues as they face these new challenges.  They have been subjected to many hours of professional development, not all of it very relevant to the test which is now finally available.  So many of my students entered with math and language and reading scores below 8th grade level and thus found it difficult to pass the old GED.  The new TASC will be even more frustrating.

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