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Feb 19

Standardized Test: Teaching or Testing that is the Question

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So, just taking a little break from getting an end of the year test study guide done for my students, and as I was working on it and it kept getting longer and longer I started to think about all the days wasted in the school year prepping for this end-all be-all standardized test.  Out of an approximately 180-day school year calendar I will have spent roughly

  • 8 Days on Benchmark Tests
  • 17 Days on Summative Tests
  • 20 minutes a week on Formative Tests (to see if the students are on track)

–          At 20 minutes a week for 28 weeks we have 45 minute classes that is a loss of roughly 12 days

  • 5 Minutes a day as a ticket out/quick review over tested material- roughly 20 days
  • The fact that we take the end of the year test in the middle of April equals a loss of 33 school days because students effort decreases significantly after the test
  • Oh and the day they take the Test plus days they miss my class for other standardized tests

Total 91+ days – this does not include any days leading up to the test to serve as a last review

That is right I said 90 school days.  This means that my students are literally sitting at a desk going over questions either preparing for the big test or these are days lost because the test is billed as an end of the instructional year.  Try getting a teenager to focus on school work after they have already taken their end of the year exam.

This also means as a teacher I only have roughly 90 days to discuss, debate, have students engaged in the material and doing what they are supposed be doing in school which is learning.  What is more important in the long run?  A student able to say I passed a standardized test or go out and say I really enjoyed “enter subject” because I learned so much that they think a future career in that field might be a possibility.

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As a teacher in history it irks me to no end when I cannot dive deeper into a subject that students find interesting because in the back of my mind I know that I have really less than 90 days to get everything covered.  The worst thing I can think of having to tell a student is, I’m sorry we do not have time for that because it will not be on the test, and I seem to be doing that more and more as the tests grow in importance.  You might be thinking, well just blow off the test and teach what they want to learn.  Well the question of whether a student graduates or not is determined by these tests, my teaching career is also on the line.  As a result teaching time becomes testing time.  I love teaching and I want to be held accountable for what I do in the classroom, but when testing time outnumbers teaching time am I really a teacher anymore?

to read my other musings on education click here

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