We are once again in standardized testing season....the smell of fear and the green pallor of the children in the morning...ahhh....
Not only do we do testing for our district, called the DBA (district benchmark assessment), but about two weeks after that is done, we start the SBA (state benchmark assessment).
1. On the reading test there is a story about a "school of shad." Thank God it told them that shad were fish, because even I had never heard of "shad." Couldn't they just have said trout or salmon?
A few years ago they asked the kids about a "yacht." My kids live in the desert, get free lunch and some have never gone to the other side of town. How many of them, do you think, have ever heard of a "yacht" (...and 99% of them pronounced it y-short a-ch-t.....rhymes with "hatched.")?
2. I love test creators that put names like Zulema, Creighton and Twilley in math word problems. The kids get stuck on these names and can't answer the problem because they say they don't know what a "Creighton" is. Why can't they use names like Mike, Bob and Sam? Are we testing their reading ability or their math ability?
3. I also don't understand why they have to put in multi-step word problems that have more then 2 steps. I'm happy that my kids understand the difference between "find the product" and "find the sum." I teach two step problems, but I think the test creators are using this opportunity to write their thesis and forget they are talking to little kids. There is so much reading involved that those who are good at math, but not so great at reading just get swamped down by all the extra words.
4. All the tests contain questions that cover concepts that we haven't taught yet. We tell the kids this, but it doesn't make them feel any better. It just makes them more frustrated and willing to give up.
5. Do they really think that all 8 year old children can, 100% of the time, read a question on one sheet of paper and then find the matching numbered row of bubbles, on a different sheet of paper? Even if it were possible for them to get every answer correct, once they fill in question number 4's answer on bubble row 5, the rest of the test will be wrong.
6. I do believe that all children can learn, but NOT at the same pace, or ability as someone else. There are too many variables: home life, IQ, aptitude, attitude, home language, support at home and on and on. People are just naturally better in certain areas: some math, some writing and some science and it's the same with kids. Expecting ALL children to be reading on grade level by the year 2014 is just ridiculous!
7. The NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT (NCLB) has caused schools to leave out curriculum in area such as art, science and social studies so that they can spend more time on math, writing and reading to better prepare for these tests.
8. A school will not meet AYP (annual yearly progress) if even one child, in one subgroup, misses the mark. Last year we missed meeting AYP because of 5, special education students (Our school population is about 1000.), who, in my opinion, shouldn't have to take the same test, since their IEP (individual education plan), which was designed especially for their areas of difficulty, say they learn different and therefore are not expected to know the same things the other children know, which is why they are in special education in the first place.
9. Some curriculum, (like EVERYDAY MATH, which I like overall,) tells you to move on even if the student doesn't understand a concept, because that concept will be hit on again in a later chapter. Well, what if I haven't got to that concept again, by the time we take the test, and little Joey is still confused. I know "drill and kill" can be boring, but some topics have to be hit on repeatedly for that "light bulb" to finally go on.
10. Finally, you are not hearing this from me....and I will deny it if you use my name...but....did you know that, as a parent, you have the right to request your child opt out of the tests and that schools are required by law to inform you of this right?