Friday, April 8, 2011

"The Test"

Yesterday and today, my students are taking their state reading test.  "The test" is two days worth of reading passages and answering questions to check their understanding of the state standards.

For many, "the test" is something to be feared.  With current legislation, jobs can be lost and schools can be closed if results are consistently not meeting state expectations.

I, however, am not worried.  Together, my students and I have worked diligently this year to make sure we know those state standards forwards and backwards.  Not just because of "the test," but because they are things that the powers-that-be think that 6th graders need to know.  And not once did I utter the phrase, "...because you'll need to know it for the NeSA."  We, as teachers, don't even get to know what the test looks like or what will be on it.  We simply teach the state standards and hope that "the test" is an accurate measure of how well students know them.

The kids, however, know that many things ride on the results.  They know that "the test" can affect whether or not they are in differentiated classes or if they need to be placed into a reading intervention class.  They know that there is pressure for them to make our school look good.  They know their parents want to receive notification that they have "met" or "exceeded" the state expectations.  But it is my hope that they want to do well just for the sake of showing what they know and how much they've learned.

These kids are tested a lot.  And I know how much it frustrates them.  But this test, arguably the most important one they will take this year, has been better than I expected.  I worried about them feeling fatigued by all the testing.  I worried about them staying quiet while we waited for others to finish.  I worried about them rushing to finish.

None of those things have been an issue.  And I couldn't be more proud to be their teacher.

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