Saturday, March 22, 2014


No, this is not about a Korean airline that may have had some nefarious involvement with Flight 370. This is about Three Letter Acronyms. They are the flurry of letters that seem to drive the education business. I understand that working for the government, I should expect some of these. This is the land of the FBI, CIA, NSA, FDA, ABC, CBS, NBC, LBJ, JFK. This is the USA, after all. So a certain amount of this clever abbreviation seems necessary, if not a little patriotic.
When I first started teaching, I had a friend with whom I studied to get our teaching credentials. When we sat through those initial staff meetings after we were placed, he was the one who kept asking "What's an SST? What is ELA?" There are so many TLAs in the teaching profession, that knowing your Student Success Team from your English Language Arts is sometimes a struggle. Especially for new teachers. That's why my friend spent the next three years, at various meetings and staff retreats, reminding us all to please take pity on those of us who come to the profession without a lot of OJT. That way we will be more prepared to TCB.
This memory weighed heavily on me as I attended the training for the replacement for the CST, or California Standards Test, the SBAC. Four letters? What do they expect us to do with that extra letter? Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium? I tried explaining to a bunch of fifth graders why we needed that C at the end. Consortium? Why can't it just be "company?" Maybe because no "company" would send along a manual filled with a whole new passel of TLAs. Only these aren't just three letters. Some of them are four, or just two. ITTLs can be TAs for the SBAC. Informational Technology Teacher Leaders can be Test Administrators for this Assessment that has a consortium behind it. You have to know how to operate a CB, which doesn't turn out to be a Citizen's Band radio, but rather a Google Chromebook. You have to be sure to follow the DFA from the TAM. Directions for administration from the Test Administrator Manual. It's enough to make your head swim. Now imagine giving this raft of information to a group of tired teachers, or even more, to their tired students. I'm sure we can all imagine the acronyms that apply to this situation, even if they are more than three letters.

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