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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Why tests screw with your head.

Our school focuses a lot, a lot on test scores. Even the first graders are given standardized tests several times during the year (once each quarter for some tests, three times during the year for others).

This fact screws with the teacher's head. It makes us think things we don't want to think, things we shouldn't think.

As a grade, we performed poorly on the last test. We got a stern talking-to from the higher-ups, and promised to do better next time.

I had a student move recently. That's nothing new, I loose a student or get a new one every two weeks or so. This student, though, is one that I really liked. (I really like them all, of course.) She was hilarious - goofy and sarcastic, but a really hard worker. She always listened and did what she was supposed to do. If she had questions, she asked.

Despite this, she was academically pretty low. She was in my lowest reading group, and had made very little reading progress from the beginning of the year.

And when she left, I mourned as I always do and was sad to see her go, but I couldn't help thinking, "at least she was a low one. Her being gone will make my class's scores look just a little bit higher for the next time we take a test." And while I had that thought I hated myself for it, but it's true.

It makes me sad that I have those thoughts. They're completely logical thoughts. I am sad she's gone. And unless I get another academically low student, my class's scores will look just a little higher next time.

So, that was my class's first step toward performing better on the next standardized test - loosing a student falling below the district expectations for success. Of course, we are doing other things to make everyone else's scores rise, but loosing a low student certainly did hurt anything.


Blogger La Brown Girl said...

We had the same stern talking to. I hated it. I hated being told to teach to a test. It makes me so unhappy to go to work every day at a place that would rather have high test scores than kids who are ready for the world.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

Ugh. Yes. It makes me even crazier because my students are SIX! They've been on this planet for less than seven years and already they're subjected to this stress.

12:19 PM  
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

That's what I argue as well. Why do I, at 7th grade, need to continue to force feed them strategies when they have been doing them since they started school. If a kid still uses strategies, then it works for them. If they don't, it's because they find them useless. Something needs to be done so that these tests don't continue taking over education.

10:50 AM  

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