Testing, Testing, Testing
The school year is well underway and as a 5th grade teacher I am excited that we are approaching a well needed break in December. I am exhausted and so are my students. My day is full of activity and much learning for my students. We are approaching yet another testing week, the fourth one since school started. My employer is data driven and we use data to drive instruction. After testing the results are used to create small groups to work on skills that particular students have scored low. It also shows how students are performing, those percentages are used to gauge how a teacher is doing in her class and at her job as a teacher. If all students fail a particular standard then either the test question was poorly worded or the teacher needs to reteach and reevaluate her instructional practices. This data is then reported to all stakeholders and decisions are made on where to go in regards to teaching and learning. It is a great system and it is exciting to see high percentages of students be successful. Many school have data chats where grade level teachers come together to discuss all the information that the test provided and if there is a high performing class then a teacher can discuss his/her strategies in hopes to help fellow instructors increase their percentages as well.
Although, this system has great advantages for everyone involved, it can be quite laborious for both teacher and student. If there were only two test a semester instead of four it would be understandable. As a teacher I believe the same results can be achieved if we use classroom assessments to create small groups. I don’t understand why we put so much pressure on students right in the middle of a school semester when the same goals can be reached using classroom data. If a school is low performing then I could understand testing could be used as a way to monitor teachers. Some teachers aren’t doing the best job at instructing for various reasons and this sort of monitoring may not always be the best, but having four major test in a semester is a bit much. I can honestly say that many students at this point don’t care about the test, it has become part of the everyday school routine.
I was excited to see that President Obama has listened and reacting. No more than 2% of classroom time can be used towards testing. Wow, this is great news for many schools and in January the details will be discussed. I recently read an article that stated “the devil is in the details.” This is true and we will have to see if the details of this new rule will have a positive effect on all involved. As a teacher I like the information that these test provide and would hate to see them all go away, but I do believe that their should be a balance and I hope in January that harmony is achieved (http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/24/politics/barack-obama-teachers-testing/).
Felecia Tucker M.Ed