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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Standardized Testing

I read this article and thought it an interesting take on the process. She talks about how she used to teach logic and critical thinking before testing. I agree with several of her viewpoints.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-critical-condition-of-critical-thinking/2011/04/17/AFfCjcwD_blog.html

I hate those 2 words-standardized tests! :) Our BIG test is in just a few weeks and I really dislike that our curriculum just melts away until it's over. We have test prep booklets in Reading, Math, Language Arts and Science from 3 different companies. That's a lot of class time that is expected to be taken up with straight test prep. Part of me wants to skip the prep-work altogether-they've learned what they've learned-hopefully that's enough. Then I feel like I'm short-changing them. They should be used to answering in the multiple-choice format and using strategies, even if it's not something I would use as an everyday assessment of learning. So, it's finding a balance that's really difficult for me.


Now, I know what you're thinking..but GT kids should naturally do well on tests. Not necessarily the case. First of all, sometimes they race through because they think they know everything. They don't need scrap paper for math-"I'll just do it in my head". Doesn't always work that way. Also, not all my students are gifted in all academic areas. I have kids who excel in math but read on an average or even a little below average level. I have great readers who just don't "get" math. And of course, no matter how much we try to make these activities "fun", they are perfectionists and want to get 100% - that just isn't in the cards when it comes to standardized testing-otherwise they'd all score on the post-high school level. So if they run into some questions they just don't know the answer for, they get discouraged and will sit there pouting for the rest of the time. Another factor is: it's a week-long test (that's developmentally appropriate, don't you think?). So by about the 4th day, most are just bubbling in answers, not even any energy left to try.

I really wish I could tell them, it was OK, it's just a test, doesn't really matter in the scheme of things. But since that's the only thing after a whole year of teaching that is going to be able to show my value-I have an invested interest in them doing well too. Those little percentile numbers are all I am worth as a teacher.

I think we will all be breathing a sigh of relief when May 13th has come and gone.
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