I cannot believe that it is already the end of the first quarter! I am glad to say that I managed to input my grades and finish the IEP report cards well before they were due! I am starting to feel the effects of way too many things going on at once in my classroom and I really think my students are starting to feel it too.
Last week we took yet another standardized assessment. This one is a new one for us; it is based on the new Common Core State Standards. I really have mixed feelings on the assessment. I understand that my school district is trying to get a baseline for where the students are performing on the new Common Core State Standards. But is it fair to expect students to do really well on an exam revolving around standards that they are not being taught and to which the curriculum is not yet aligned?
During the test, my students and I became frustrated with each other when it came time for the math constructed response. I was reading the test to those students with audio accommodations for assessments. While I was reading one of the questions, I realized that I did not fully understand what the question was asking the students to do. So, as I went around to the individual students I would reread the question to them, hoping to clarify it for them. Each time I read the question I became more and more confused on what the question was asking them to do. If I could not figure out the question, how could I expect my students to be able to answer it? I have never had that experience before. Watching my students struggle with the constructed response question was painful. My students were at such a loss about what to do, they could not even write anything down!
I wish I could say that scoring my students responses was less painful for me, but it was not. I had to score my students constructed responses for reading and math using a rubric, giving each test item a score of Novice, Practitioner, or Expert. As I was looking at the rubric, I realized that most of my student’s responses would fall into the Novice category. But what frustrated me was that the scoring was set up in such a way that my students would most likely never get an Expert score. For the majority of the test items, in order to get a score of Expert, the student would need to give the correct answer and more information than the question asked. I know that some of my students are capable of getting the correct answer, but will more than likely not give more information than the question is asking for.
I do my best to make taking standardized assessments as easy as possible for my students. This often includes fun pencils and a handful of candy to eat during the test. But, while I can help them with the actual taking of the test, I can’t give them knowledge that they do not have.
How do you handle your students reactions when they do not feel successful and become frustrated while taking grade level standardized assessments?