Friday, November 21, 2008

Death by Testing

Everyone hates taking tests. I don't know a singer person who wakes up in the morning and says, "YAY! It's TEST DAY!" or anyone who thinks, "Hmmm I'm bored, why don't I go take a test?" It just isn't done.

Yes, testing is a necessary evil, I know. As a teacher I test for many reasons. I may test as a placement tool to see where to begin instruction. I may test for achievement reasons to see how much growth a student has made. Or I may give a diagnostic test to see what is going on and what I need to do or change to better help a child. Lots of testing going on in schools.

But how much is too much? This week alone, my 6th graders had a test EVERY DAY! All this testing wasn't because they have a mean 'ol teacher either. Because this mean 'ol teacher didn't want to give about 1/2 of them and won't even see the results of many of them. Let me list the tests:
Monday - Selection Reading test (graded, on the story and skills we finished and reviewed for on Friday- instructed to be given and scores are recorded and sent to the principal on a weekly basis)
Tuesday - District Writing test (If I'm lucky I may get these scores back in a few weeks but rarely get to actually see what the kids wrote)
Wednesday- End of the unit Math test
Thursday-Vocabulary and Spelling Test (done on Thursdays now due to the Friday Weekly tests that are required every week)
Friday- Reading Weekly Test, Math Weekly Test (These are tests provided by the school, that cover random "grade level" skills that may or may not have been covered in class and we may never see the results of these tests or at best we will see an average of the grades in a month or so at our grade level meetings)

I really can't blame my kids for shutting down. As an adult, I would have a hard time with a test every imagine you are a child with a learning or emotional disability, and most of the testing material is over your head to begin with because you are below grade level due to your disability. When is enough really enough?

I don't remember being tested to death as a child and I turned out OK. Am I preparing my students to be lifelong learners and successful members of society, or am I preparing them to be good test-takers? I often wonder...

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