Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feeling a bit testy

Ah, yes. The bubble tests. The ones that bring fear to students and frustration to teachers. The tests that sorta kinda measure kids' abilities right now, but the results won't be back until mid-March at the earliest. Scores that late will no longer have any input on how we teach, but will still determine which children get to pass to the next grade and who will not.


Any time we're testing, we're not teaching. During these intense two and a half weeks, we'll only have an actual math class four times. One of those will be spent in the pursuit of the "Practice Test." Meanwhile, my students will make no progress in math, through no fault of their own.

All five classes in three grades (4, 5, 6) will miss science and social studies for the full two weeks, perhaps longer if there are multiple make-up tests to be done.

Due to our unique configuration of combination classes (which is due to budget crises and poor legislation that leads to inequitable school funding), the schedule is a nightmare. Every time I make a seating chart for testing I get changes in test groupings that force new seating arrangements.

Then there are the punch-out tools, the ruler, the tangrams, and whatever else is determined necessary. Heaven forbid that a kid use his own ruler and risk being accused of test fraud.

I checked and doublechecked my stopwatch to be sure the timing will be accurate.


The cancelled classes are the toughest to swallow. If we're to improve our kiddos' knowledge of math and science and social studies, we need to teach them. Cutting out those classes to have them fill in bubble answers on a set of tests that will be outdated by the time the scores arrive makes no sense. After all, if a farmer wants a pig to grow for market, he feeds it. If he weighs it every hour, the pig will have no time to eat and will not be ready for market.


So now I'll attack the incredibly scintillating task of punching out the math tools for 40 kids. I'll hope the pencils got sharpened in the paraprofessionals' office. If not, I'll end up bringing those home to do myself, too.


And to make it worse: the weather is warm enough that I can't wear my testing sweatshirt!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Earth Muffin said...

I'm really surprised you take your tests so early in the school year. We don't take ours until early March. The fear and frustration and missed instruction time is still the same though. And I teach special ed. middle school students, so you can imagine what these tests do to their self-esteem and what those feelings do for their behavior!

No child left behind? I don't think so...

11/15/2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

There's a reason they're called "tests." They test one's patience, one's fortitude and one's mettle.

11/15/2008 11:40 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

That is very frustrating! What would your suggestion be for a better method of gauging where kids are?

11/15/2008 2:38 PM  

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