Sunday, October 28, 2012

Testing, 1, 2, 3

I am a public school teacher who doesn't really like standardized tests.

Original, right?

Over the past 6 school days, my grade level took a practice writing assessment and a fill-in-the-bubble standardized test of skills. There are lots of really legitimate reasons that standardized testing isn't a good thing, and you've probably heard them all. My reasoning is less reasearch-based and won't make any scholarly articles.

All of my special education students get small group testing accommodations for tests like this, as do a few regular education students with 504 plans. I got to take 7 darlings with me in the mornings to test away from our class.

I love these kids. They have huge, funny personalities. They are creative, bright, silly, and sweet. They have so many talents and gifts to offer.

Writing an essay in 3 hours isn't among those talents, and neither is taking a multi-hour test. Watching them test is an exercise in watching them struggle, guess, and be distracted by everything on earth.

During the writing assessment, my most rambunctious friend was an angel. He wrote the whole time. He raised his hand and whispered when he needed help, instead of yelling in my general direction like he usually does. When he finished, I read his paper, and it was so good by the standard of what he usually produces. Yes, one paragraph had only 2 sentences. No, the final body paragraph did not make sense. But he did it by himself, and I was so proud I could have burst.

[Will that be reflected in a score by a "standardized" rubric? Nope.]

My most quiet, unobtrusive friend was a mess during this test. He couldn't sit still. He couldn't be quiet. I finally broke down and asked what he thought his score was going to be like if he kept up the way he was going. He said, "I'll fail. I failed last year." It makes sense, if you think about it. Do your best and fail, or fill the whole page with the letter z and fail. One takes much less effort than the other.

I understand why we have these tests, I really do. I know that we need to have a general writing goal for all fifth graders, and I know that for most kids, this test is probably a pretty good way to measure how they write. I know that it's important to see what kids need to work on. It's valuable to see what my little buggers can do without help.

I'm just a softie and I hate to watch them struggle. That's the moral of my story. I'm ready to go back to our regularly scheduled daily programming.

1 comment:

  1. How does this grab you...