Saturday, December 3, 2011

So Much For Early Childhood....

I'm wondering if any other Kinder teachers who are reading this are accountable for standardized test scores for their kiddos.

I ask because we start our testing this upcoming week. 5 fun-filled days of me reading questions aloud and the kids sitting in their seats that whole time bubbling in answers (very developmentally appropriate don't you think?). The best part is, even though this test is given for the purpose of identifying GT students (that's why it's given so early)--this will be my accountability for the year! I'm told because it's the only test we take, it's the only data we have. Of course, we know differently-we have tons of data on our kiddos-observational data, sight word inventories, fluency rates, number of letters/sounds learned, etc. It's much more accurate to sit down individually and test one or 2 objectives at a time. But this is what counts-multiple choice answers on a norm-referenced test given in December. :(

The best part is, since I teach a GT class-my kids are expected to score a whole grade level above. I'm required to get an average grade level equivalency of 1.3 on the total battery scores. Even though I've only had these kids for 3 months (and I have 25 of them-much less time to work with them individually). So I was expected to effectively teach a year and half's curriculum by this week. I can't even articulate how challenging and stressful that has been. Kinder is foundational-you can't just snap your fingers and have them reading--there are a lot of steps involved to work up to that. Not to mention there are a lot of activities I like to incorporate that are not based on the test requirements-projects, creativity, critical thinking exercises, the GT icons--it's a lot to incorporate day to day as it is. Next year our official evaluations will be based 50% on test scores alone-they haven't decided yet if this is the test they will use for Kinder, but if they do, man, there goes the concept of Early Childhood Education.
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  1. Ugh. I know. I'm a GT teacher in IL, and our kids are assessed out the wazoo. 'Course, for my kids, our district doesn't even really have any assessment that finds the top kids' true readiness levels, let alone track their progress. But I digress.

    Keep teaching the wonderful young people you see before you. Keep doing what you know as a teacher is the right thing to do. Teach for that other 50% of the evaluation, because that's what's going to make those kiddos into strong, resilient, caring individuals. You are doing the right thing. Stepping off my soapbox.

  2. This makes me nervous!

    I am a Childhood/Special Education student in my 3rd year of college, and all we hear about is "teaching to the test" and being evaluated based on our students scores. It scares me because that is by far the least accurate way to evaluate my teaching skills.

    Having children as early as kindergarten still at their table filling in bubbles based off of what they hear read to them is bogus!! And on top of it being in a GT class! As if I am not already worried enough about getting a job in education, having to worry about the stress of being evaluated based off of one student assessment is frightening!

    Any words of wisdom as I get deeper into my program and closer to becoming a "real" teacher?

    -Megan from Upstate NY

  3. Lainie-what wonderful advice! Will definitely keep that in mind.

    Megan-don't let it discourage you. There are districts and schools who do what's best for students rather than what's best for data.

    I agree, especially in the young grades-the kinds of tests they give are definitely not the best way to judge us-it's simply not an accurate measure. We need people in this business who are passionate about teaching! Hopefully, if enough people speak out it will change. Or if they continue to do it and see the impact it has on the foundational skills these kids aren't learning in process-maybe that will change their minds as well. Don't give up! :)

  4. Wow- what an incredibly inappropriate system. At the very least, students should be evaluated at the end of the year.

    At our school last year, kindergartners were given all of the DIBELS and mClass Math assessments orally. Oral assessments make a lot more sense, if you can get the staffing to do it.

    I do think it's necessary to assess students, and even to see how teachers are doing- but whenever there are hard and fast rules without looking at the specific situations to see if they're appropriate and truthful assessments, it doesn't work well. Good luck- I know I would be very nervous in your situation.

    (Also- what a terrible understanding of what 'gifted' means to assume that every child be a grade level ahead while in kindergarten, especially when at least near us, a child can be put in a gifted program because of being gifted in math, even if they're not considered gifted in reading.)

  5. It is my understanding that in the US the requirement for a standardized test for G&T in Kinder is a federal law.

    My principal is going to be looking at the Verbal score on the COGAT for K and 2, because even our English speakers tend to lag behind the "norm". We are looking at different ways to increase their verbal skills.

    We use school designed rubrics for most of our data in K - 2. Some pencil and paper test but usually that is in Math and manipulatives are also used.