Let’s Talk CMAS

Mike Carlson, Spear Contributor

Oh CMAS. What a fickle and polarizing test you have been. Not only have you been the perfect example of a questionable way to spend government funds, but, at first glance, it appears as though you have come up short in actually measuring anything other than a student’s ability to play hangman. Actually, that’s not true.The hangman games took place after the test. Face it CMAS. Your debut wasn’t exactly “Fresh Tomatoes.”

Let’s start with the timing of this wonderful test. CMAS testing took place at the beginning of November which, if you are a student or teacher, is like getting a flat tire on the way to prom. It’s inconvenient. Students and teachers alike have their respective workloads significantly pick up at this point in the year. For seniors, it is filling out every single college application under the sun plus keeping up with classes. And for teachers, it is grading their way through a mountain of work. Not to mention, crucial instruction days are lost in lieu of the CMAS. Whatever happened to the old adage “life is timing?”

On a similar note, giving yet another standardized test to a senior, who has forgotten that A, B, C, and D are the beginning of the alphabet, isn’t exactly well received either. Seniors have already been standardized tested out of their minds to this point and frankly do not need anymore of it. Personally, if I see another #2 pencil I might just break it.

Why not use the ACT or SAT? Both of these are key indicators in measuring growth. The same standardized tests which lead to this test burn-out. The same tests which measure college readiness. The same tests which reflect nearly four years of secondary school education. The same tests which measure educational growth in core subjects. Does anybody else see a pattern?

Or maybe we use Advanced Placement scores. Or maybe this test, upon further review, needs to be a one-and-done.

In fairness to the CMAS people, they did spare us the #2 pencils. The test was completely digitized this year. A move supposed to save money. I’m no Officemax employee, but on the surface the going rate for paper tests is probably considerably smaller than the going rate for several hundred computers. And who knows? With all the no-shows maybe some money could have been saved on paper tests. I’m hoping, however, there was a plan for these computers to have a second life. Somewhere an extreme couponer is cringing.

Let alone the fact that this money could be put towards other things like improving failing public schools, for improving teacher salaries, or even for rewarding those teachers who are the very best at what they do. I’m not saying CMAS is a waste of money, I was obviously not on that committee. I am, though, questioning how well-thought-out this test was.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the intended goal of the CMAS. Teachers should be held accountable for growth. The good ones should be praised and rewarded. The poor ones should not. It’s that simple. Some teachers are underappreciated and that’s a travesty. I’m Pro-Teacher.

We live in a twisted world with questionable priorities where we pay outrageous amounts of money to watch Demaryius Thomas catch touchdown passes when, in reality, teachers are the ones we should be glorifying (while we are on the topic so should policemen, firemen, and other servicemen and women), especially the great ones. I don’t know about you, but I’d buy a ticket to watch Mr. Hatak’s AP Chemistry class, stand in on one of Mrs. Moritz’s Honors English Nine Fisch Bowls, or to merely be a part of one of Mr. Meyer’s Constitution discussions. Heck, I’d even buy season tickets.

I’m just advocating for a bit more awareness and moderation with the standardized testing system. This editorial is not meant have all the answers. In fact, it actually has more questions than answers.

In my opinion, as an outsider looking in…

A) I don’t get it

B) I don’t understand it

C) I’m confused

D) All of the Above