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May 2, 2013

Is There Value in State Testing?

Enough has been said about state testing that I will keep this short.  There are so many things that I could say, and most have been said.  I'll keep it short.  As I watched my students endure 3 days of ELA testing, followed by 3 days of math testing, two things came to mind that I wanted to share:

1. If you haven't seen this, please read it.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/17/eighth-grader-designs-standardized-test-that-slams-standardized-tests/

She makes some excellent points, and this is very clearly an authentic assessment of a student who can read, write, think critically, be creative, and contribute to society.

2.  We are placing so much value on these tests, and basing teacher's evaluations, student's RTI needs, etc.  There is one major catch (well, more than one, but one that I haven't heard a lot of discussion about).  We read and hear about students who are very stressed about these tests.  I have also seen this.  Many of my students are also very stressed about the state tests too.  However, there are quite a few other students who did not take it seriously.  And in all honesty, why should they....

  • they can't really study or prepare well for it, since we don't have much information about it
  • they won't get feedback from it, since they will be confidential even after testing is completed
  • These tests don't figure into their grades, like Regents exams do.  Regardless of how they do on these tests, they will go on to the next grade.
Teachers pay and evaluation rating may be weighted heavily on these tests, but students won't really see much effect, regardless of how they do.  They need to sit through 9 hours of testing over 2 weeks (if they don't have extended time), but how does it effect them in the long-term?  What is there incentive to take it seriously?  It would be great if there was some intrinsic value or incentive for students to do well on these tests. 

Do your students stress about it?  Do they see the value?  


standardized-test-cartoon-picture
(from theclosedcampus.org)

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