Testing Time Out

There is way too much time and effort in the classroom these days being spent on standardized test preparation. Yes, I understand the underlying issues and what they mean to school districts in the United States, but education is getting lost along the way.

These tests were supposed to be designed to assess student progress and growth, not be used as a measuring stick for teachers or funding.

Perhaps it is time everyone remembers why they signed on for this career in the first place and get back to basics. Teaching to the test does not work! We all know this.

A better strategy is to reinforce the proper writing fundamentals and problem solving skills from the beginning.

If your students write a great deal and have been taught the correct techniques, then they are going to write an awesome essay whether it is for a history project or the NJASK. A good writer is a good writer regardless of the topic.

As far as math goes, everyone knows that a strong foundation of facts will set the tone for math progression. Once students have the knowledge base for computation, it is a matter of repetition to keep those skill sets sharp.

However, problem solving strategies are another issue, but teaching the proper techniques from grade one will mean the base is there to build on. Solving word problems takes time to grasp, but with constant exposure it will improve like anything does with practice.

Daily review tests for the ASK or any other standardized test only does one thing, stresses the students out. They begin to fear and dread test week.

Why are going to bed at a reasonable hour and eating a healthy breakfast something you should do the week of ‘the test?’ Aren’t those things students should be doing every day?

Middle schoolers can’t wear sweatshirts during testing in some school districts. Isn’t that a bit much? Is there a standardized answer sheet floating around somewhere?

Sure, I realize that cheating does take place in some areas because the pressure is on to perform, but who gets hurt from that? It is the students who suffer. These tests were also supposed to assess who may require additional help like Basic Skills services as well as to identify those students whose intelligence are way above the norm and should be being provided materials to supplement their growth as well.

It is definitely time for a testing time out! Districts need to remember what works. Good teaching is what makes for excellent learning and that is what makes high test scores, not prep booklets or forgetting about the curriculum to get ready for ‘the test.’

What’s next, test pep rallies? Don’t laugh, my old district actually had one of those! Scary!

More about tests

Dawn Miller

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