As the days keep getting shorter and colder, and the snow starts piling up, I know that can only mean one thing…it’s time for my least favorite season. I know you must be thinking winter, and while, yes, that is my least favorite season, it is not what I’m describing here. I’m talking about testing season. In the span of two weeks that we have been back from winter vacation, I have had to take three days out of my schedule to administer standardized tests. The sad thing is, that those three days are just the beginning. There are at least another two days coming up in the next couple of weeks.
When I was student teaching, I remember my co-teacher telling me that Jolly Ranchers were the best candy to keep in your classroom. I have taken her advice to heart, and always distribute Jolly Ranchers when my students are taking big standardized assessments. I like to joke that I have a reaction that reminds me of Pavlov’s dog with testing now, because whenever I think about administering a test, I always think, “mmm…I want a Jolly Rancher.” I even have my students convinced that the only way to take a test is with Jolly Ranchers, one student cried one day because I ran out of Jolly Ranchers and had to give him a different hard candy. I went to the store that night and made sure I had plenty of Jolly Ranchers for the next day!
I consider myself a not-so-good test proctor. I am so used to doing everything in short bursts throughout the day to keep my students attention, that long silences and periods cause me to become antsy. I continuously walk around and monitor my students while they are testing, but it’s during this time that I become easily distracted. I start to straighten something on my desk, grade some papers, or even start writing a blog entry. I am so lucky that the paraprofessional who works in my class is super awesome. She is so attentive and super helpful, I don’t know if I could handle proctoring and administering standardized tests without her.
All of this standardized testing is frustrating to me. Even the testing accommodations are not enough most times for my students. I understand that we can gather important data from these tests, and that most teachers find the data worthwhile. They can find the standards that students struggled with and implement interventions to help those students.
However, for my students and me, the test results don’t really share as much. I already know that my students are performing below grade level, and the test results show it. We even take a test that is supposed to test the student on his or her ability level. However, the lowest that test goes is second grade, and I do have some students performing academically below the second grade level.
So for now I am going to keep on giving those tests, and using the data as best I can. That is until someday someone, (possibly me!) creates a standardized test that is a true measure of a student’s ability.