Snow Days Don’t Stop Assessment

This wouldn’t be worth of mocking except for the fact that it was retweeted time and time again by the Blackboard Twitter fanboy crowd and when I finally read it I couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my mouth. This is the garbage they celebrate as a success.

So the following post is an attempt at purging my system.

Original article here. Italics and footnotes, as always, are mine.


The snow led to more than 300 local closings and delays today — but if a district uses too many snow days, there’s less time to test. No one wants that. One local school figured out a way to have the best of both worlds -students at home *and*1 a full day of testing. Joe Webb says it works through technology -insert dramatic music here.

The kids at Taft Elementary will lose a day of class because they’re at home. McAuley High School has figured out a way to reach out to its students and have them in class at home. At Beechwood Elementary, Miss Burns’ fourth grade class beat the elements and had a school not a snow day. But in 2010 this is truly old school.2

McAuley sophomore Sam Rack kicked it new school3 today at home but taking all her regular classes online. It counts as a school day. Sam Rack has done the math. “I actually like this a lot more because if we have a lot of snow days like last year, we had to take days off of our summer vacation. Please don’t make me go to school a day longer than I have to.

Sam had Blackboard to thank for her new found ability to add and subtract one digit numerals.

Blackboard CEO, Michael Chasen, crowed with excited when informed of this development. “Another 21st century skill down! Bb NG is transforming education!”

It’s part of McAuley’s high-tech teaching push4. The principal notified students and parents yesterday that today was an online day and all work had to be done. At his suggestion, we interviewed him online today via Skype5. He says McAuley uses the popular school software *Blackboard*6 to sort of “home school” on days like today.

“Don’t get carried away though” cautioned Webb, “You still need us. It’s not real home school. I used air quotes. Make sure you put the quotes in the article.”

“Students have to go on Blackboard and each teacher is going to post assignments and they’re doing all kinds of things. You know, like tests, quizzes, some timed quizzes and I bet you’ll see some timed tests. Others are probably reading stuff. It’s really amazing. Thank god for Technology.”

At 1:40 this afternoon, Sam logged in to take an AP European History quiz. She had 20 minutes to get it done. This wasn’t a full day on or off but she did get to sleep in and leave the uniform in the closet7. Plus not have her parents worry about her driving to and from school. “This was kind of a no-brainer for us. We thought this was a way to keep our kids safe and keep moving forward from an educational standpoint. We had to synergize our enterprise CMS to strategerize our learning outcomes towards our state standards. There is a race to the top to be won.

Half the students at McAuley have laptops they’ve purchased through the school. That makes this whole thing possible. The other half weren’t going to graduate anyway. It’s better that they remain laptop-less so that they’re happier with their eventual role in life.

Technology is a great thing…but not everyone has the access. Until that happens…. snowy days will mean no class for most schools.8

1 Apparently the * has become an accepted journalistic punctuation mark. It denotes sparkles or jazz hands- depending on the context.

2 I read this 3 times and it made less sense each time.

3 I did NOT add this. This is real. Other phrases that didn’t make the final edit included bodacious, funky fresh, col’ chilling and maxing n’ relaxing.

4 Several high-tech pulls went terribly wrong.

5 Skype audio failed due to bandwidth issues and the principal refused to accept our phone call because it wasn’t *technologified* enough so the interview was carried out via text chat.

6 I have no idea why BB is in bracketed by asterisks.

7 Imagine the freedom to both wear the clothes you want and get up when you want.

8 And that ladies and gentlemen is a closing line. It’s deep, poignant and leaves you wondering why it didn’t have asterisks sprinkled on it.

Comments on this post

  1. Jared Stein said on February 4, 2010 at 11:49 am

    So why do you hate technology? The kids just want to kick it new school*

    • Tom said on February 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm

      That person is paid to write things. That’s their job. I will stay up tonight thinking about that.

  2. Dana Huff said on February 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    That is frightening. On so many levels.

  3. midquel said on February 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Good thing none of the students lost power or internet access, what with all the snow and wind and such.

  4. Simon Oldaker said on February 15, 2010 at 3:47 am

    What is it with snow days? My kids watch American TV and are beginning to ask why their school doesn’t close when it snows (which is depressingly often). Why do American schools close when it snows? Has the snowplow not been invented over there? Is the snow a surprise every year?

    • Tom said on February 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      Depends on where you are. In Virginia and a lot of the Mid-Atlantic region and the South it just doesn’t snow much, as a result we have few plows. This year has been something of an exception. Snow days are built into the school calendar so it all works out ok most of the time. I think that you’ve also got a lot of students who drive to school and that ups the danger when they have had little or no experience driving in the snow.

      Plenty of other places in America have tons of plows and pay little attention to snow. We are mocked by them as well. I’m ok with that.

  5. Ben said on February 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Priceless, Tom, priceless.

    “We had to synergize our enterprise CMS to strategerize our learning outcomes towards our state standards.”


    Although you missed an opportunity when it said they interviewed the principal at his suggestion. No knock on the shoddy level of journalism?

    • Tom said on February 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      With this “article” I had to stop myself from going off on about 100 tangents making fun of stuff. It got so long it was ridiculous.

      And I take the mocking with the love it was intended.

  6. Ben said on February 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Oh, and I almost forgot….

    mock, mock, mock…mock, mock!

    For all of the snow you guys can’t handle 🙂

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