Monday, November 7, 2016

Online and Written Benchmark Tests (Days 56-57)

This is my first post after Daylight Saving Time and the clocks falling back one hour. It is a tradition for my blog to discuss the DST debate right around each clock change, and this post is no exception.

Back when it was time to spring forward, there was a movement to end the biannual clock change in several states, including California. In a March post, I mentioned the California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, who proposed a bill to keep California on Year-Round Standard Time.

Well, here are the results of that bill:

Back in August, the bill passed the Assembly but failed in the Senate. Therefore, the biannual clock change will remain in California for the foreseeable future. According to the link above, one reason for the bill's rejection was concern about the time difference between the coasts:

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, favored keeping daylight saving, noting that increasing the time change between the West and East coasts could complicate trade.
“Should the East Coast spring forward and we don’t, now there’s a four-hour gap,” he said, according to the [Los Angeles] Times.
Notice that this four-hour time difference would only occur in the summer -- unless the New England states were to pass their own proposed bills to adopt Year-Round Daylight Saving Time. Then the difference between California and New England would be four hours the entire year.

Let me summarize the key points I mentioned back in my March DST post:

-- The purpose of DST is to moderate sunrise times. Ideally sunrise should be between 6 and 7 AM, and always between 5 and 8 AM if possible.
-- DST isn't necessary near the equator, as sunrise is always around 6 AM. DST is also awkward near the poles, as the sun can rise anytime between midnight and noon.
-- Therefore there is a sweet spot -- a strip of latitude (formally a zone, if we use Legendre's spherical geometry) -- such that a biannual clock change is necessary. That is, the clock change keeps sunrises between 5 AM and 8 AM, but no single year-round clock can do so.
-- Northern California is nearer that sweet spot than Southern California. In fact, here in So Cal, we see that Year-Round Standard Time keeps sunrises mostly between 5 AM and 7 AM, and Year-Round DST keeps them mostly between 6 AM and 8 AM. Perhaps near the solstices, sunrise may be a few minutes outside of the desirable range.
-- Arizona, like So Cal, is south of the sweet spot. This is why Arizona is able to survive with a single year-round clock. Sunrises are usually between 5:30 AM and 7:30 AM in the Grand Canyon State.
-- In Northern California, the clock change does keep sunrise in the desirable range, while no single year-round clock can do so. But of the two year-round clocks, the one that keeps sunrise closer to the desirable range is Year-Round Standard Time, just like the Chu proposal. On the other hand, in Northern Nevada, Year-Round DST keeps sunrise closer to the desirable range.

As a Southern Californian, I'm not affected as much by the Chu bill -- sunrises won't be too much earlier than 5 AM no matter which clock we use. Unlike many people, I have no problem with the biannual clock change.

But if I were to choose a single clock to use year-round, I'd personally prefer Year-Round DST. Part of this could be that I don't have young children. Parents of young children often prefer Year-Round Standard Time as sunrise and sunset on this clock are closer to the wake and bedtimes of children, while adults without young children prefer Year-Round DST, where sunrise and sunset are closer to the wake and bedtimes of adults. Along with the potential four-hour time difference between the Golden State and New England, this is enough reason for me to oppose the Chu bill had they appeared on my ballot.

Notice that legally, there is no such thing as Year-Round DST. Officially, Year-Round DST is actually the Year-Round Standard Time of the next time zone. So my favored Year-Round DST in California is formally Year-Round Mountain Standard Time, while New England's proposal is considered to be Year-Round Atlantic Standard Time.

States have the power to adopt Year-Round Standard Time or have a biannual clock change, but they don't have the power to change time zones (which is what Year-Round DST actually is) -- instead it requires an act of Congress. Keep this in mind as we read this LA Times editorial from June, back when the Chu bill was still under consideration:

One commenter wrote:

  • TwoWheelsGood
All-year Daylight time would be better for business. If we go all-Standard, I'll have a 4-hour gap with my Eastern time colleagues in the summer. Much better to make that 3 hours in the summer, 2 hours in the winter. We'd always be in-sync with Arizona, we'd just make them call it "California Time". 

Congress is useless; if DST is going to change, we need to do it ourselves.

As I wrote above, I agree with Two Wheels here regarding Year-Round DST. The problem, though, is that Year-Round DST really means changing to Mountain Standard Time (just like Arizona) -- and changing time zones requires Congress, much to his dismay.

I've mentioned before that one of the most ambitious proposals to eliminate the biannual clock change comes from Sheila Danzig:

Danzig's plan not only eliminates the clock change, but reduces the total number of time zones in the lower 48 states from four to two. The current Pacific and Central time zones would have the equivalent of Year-Round DST, while the current Mountain and Eastern time zones would have the equivalent of Year-Round Standard Time. Then there would be only two actual time zones, with them just two hours apart.

Under Danzig's plan, sunrises outside the 5 to 8 AM range will occur, especially in the North. The idea here is that extreme sunrises are a small price to pay to reduce clock changes -- including completely avoiding the biannual clock change and reducing jet lag clock changes.

I've been thinking about how the Danzig plan can be accomplished. We know that there's already a state that observes Danzig time -- Arizona. So perhaps Danzig time can occur one state at a time, with Arizona as a starting point.

I used to think that both California and Nevada could convert to Year-Round DST -- this would result in all three states, California, Nevada, and Arizona, on the same clock. But now I've changed my mind due to the act of Congress required.

Instead, the best place to start would be the state just north of Arizona -- Utah. No act of Congress is required for the Beehive State to adopt Danzig time, which is Year-Round Standard Time. Then perhaps both California and Nevada can make advisory votes for Year-Round DST (Year-Round Mountain Standard Time). With two states, Arizona and Utah, already on that clock, it may be easier for Congress to allow California and Nevada to join that clock. Then, it would be full steam ahead for Danzig time as there would be four states observing it.

A great state to begin establishing the Eastern Danzig time zone would have been Indiana -- until a decade ago, the Hoosier State observed Year-Round Eastern Standard Time. Perhaps Indiana could revert to its old clock. This might lead to Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois joining them, as these states all have metro areas crossing into Indiana. Kentucky and Ohio don't require acts of Congress to convert to Danzig time, but Illinois does.

Oops -- I've spent too much of this post discussing DST as if I were still a sub, but now I'm a teacher, so I should be writing about my own classroom. Well, one more day discussing DST is one fewer day talking about the topic dominating this blog for nearly two weeks -- the Benchmark Tests.

This is a two-day post. So what are my students doing today? Well, they're coding, of course, since today's Monday -- and then taking the online Benchmark Tests. And then what will they be doing in class tomorrow? They'll be taking -- the written Benchmarks.

The online Benchmarks have been moving at a snail's pace -- the suggested time to complete is two hours, one each for math and ELA. But they've spent more than double that time on just the math! I know that the test covers the entire grade-level curriculum -- which is hardly reasonable as there is still much of the year left. The students could just fill in random answers and be done with it. But instead, they're moving more deliberately. Perhaps they realize that if they hurry up and finish the online Benchmarks, that will give them more time to do other work, which they don't want.

I believe that my eighth graders, at least, are in a position to do well on the written Benchmarks. Now that I covered Functions, they are in a position to answer 19 out of the 24 questions correct. On the other hand, the students in Grades 6-7 have covered much less of the material on their respective Benchmark Tests.

For tomorrow's music break, I rehash a song I sang back in August, during the first Benchmark Testing Week. I'm giving a new verse to describe this time of year:

Benchmark Tests -- by Mr. Walker

Verse 2:
Why do we take Benchmark Tests?
The first trimester is done so let's
See how much we know, know know!

It's some new stuff on Benchmark Tests.
If we don't know it, we take a guess.
'Cause there's still time to grow, grow, grow!

The teacher sees our Benchmark Tests,
Knows what to teach more or less.
That's the way to go, go, go!

Who is the "Day in the Life" poster whose monthly posting date is the seventh? Recall that I first tried to join "Day in the Life" on September 7th, only to find that the 7th was already taken.

Well, it's Brianne Beebe, another New York high school teacher:

Here is a link to her November 7th post:

Hey -- Beebe starts her post with mentioning the clock change too! But of course, she's much briefer with her discussion and goes quickly into her classes. Notice that most of them are Geometry -- and of course, the first two years of my own blog are devoted to Geometry.

Beebe mentions a trick to distinguishing between reflections and rotations:

During today's lesson we were able to address confusion regarding identifying reflections and rotations given a diagram.  This is a huge win.  My students always have trouble with this.  We practiced drawing lines from one vertex to its corresponding vertex so we could see when it indicated a reflection (when the lines were parallel) and when it indicated a rotation (when the lines intersected).  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.  I'm going to make a note for next year to teach this method at the beginning. 

Hmmm, that's an interesting trick! Notice, though, that it fails for rotations of regular polygons if the two vertices A and B are directly opposite each other -- lines AA' and BB' are parallel. (I assume that Beebe is only rotating triangles, so this doesn't occur.) The trick for reflections always works since both AA' and BB' are perpendicular to the mirror and thus are parallel to each other.

This is a two-day post, so my next post will be on Wednesday. Hey -- that means that by the next time I post again, we should know who the next president is, since I won't post on Election Day. I know -- I spent several topics before I was hired discussing the presidents and Common Core, but right around the time the primaries were decided and the race became interesting, I was hired and I needed to tone down the politics.

Of course I won't reveal my voting preferences here on the blog. But this does remind me of a song my sixth grade teacher sang for us. (This was back in 1992, the year that Bill Clinton was elected for the first time.) It's a parody of "Do-Re-Mi," Sound of Music:


If I could, I surely would,
Vote in this election.
Make my choice for president,
Choose the leaders of our land.
Have you registered to vote? No!
Then let's register today.
Soon we'll finally have our say.
So let's all go out and vote, vote, vote!

Perhaps I'll sing this in my own class today (especially the sixth grade class), right after I sing the Benchmark Tests song.

Once again, my next post will be Wednesday.

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