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Monday, February 28, 2011

TAKS for the memories

(On) Tomorrow is the 4th grade Writing TAKS. This is the first of the TAKS tests that will be given this year, and 4th grade teachers across the state (including my wife) have been nervously anticipating the day.

This made me think that today might be a good day to have an INTERACTIVE MONDAY that asks, "Whaddya think about standardized tests?"

Go ahead, rant. Rave. Spew invectives all over the keyboards. But please share with us what you think of your state's current testing situation.

To see MY opinions, please revisit this old post -- Testivus.


Good night, and good luck, 4th graders.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hate state tests they cause way too much stress and anxiety in both the students and the teachers. Plus with all the prep we have to do we miss out on weeks of actual learning time.

Katie said...

These tests continue to become more and more ridiculous. "Testing irregularities" now supposedly extend to students talking at all during lunch, a teacher sitting at the desk in the classroom, unrelated bulletin boards in the hallway and probably certain types of breathing. Yesterday we were also told that if we committed a "testing irregularity" we could (I think she actually said "would") lose our teaching certificate. Yes, that's right, not just our job, but our certification!
Also, given the statewide lack of money for education, I would like to know just how much money Pearson is getting.... not to mention what we spend on testing coordinators, etc.
The whole thing is a racket. It gives us very little useful data, it is tremendously stressful on all involved and I think it teaches kids a really warped view of success and the value of education. TAKS is pushed so hard at the elementary schools that a lot of kids think it actually matters, and that if they have done well on TAKS they don't really need to strive for anything beyond that.

elysabeth said...

I'm not a teacher but as a parent, I hate standardized tests - Teachers don't teach any more - all they are doing is working up to memorization of rote material for these tests and it doesn't bode well with every student. My son is very intelligent but when it comes to taking standardized tests, not so well. He knows the material and probably could tell you more about the material than is asked but he's not a test taker. Or wasn't (he's 25 now so out of school). My daughter, a senior in high school, has a different learning ability and so those tests do much to show me that she's actually learned anything.

I think parents, students and teachers all get caught in this stupid "no child left behind" stuff and it's sad - because there are so many students who really shouldn't move forward just because of some stupid testing and making sure that every child passes whether they deserve to or not. I totally hate them - lol.

And to Katie, don't think the administration can tell you they will pull your teaching certification for the "testing irregularities" - seek council with your union reps so that they are aware of what is being said by administration for such absurdities as students talking at lunch, teachers being at their desks, et cetera - hopefully someone can put that straight - since I don't think administration really has the power to pull your certification due to the fact that you passed all your classes and have kept up with your CEUs to keep that certification and you pay your dues to organizations - just my thoughts on that but I'm not a teacher so don't know for sure -

So good luck to all the students taking stupid tests - lol - E :)

----------------
Elysabeth Eldering
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Anonymous said...

As a elementary special ed. teacher, I have no problem with accountability and making sure that my kids are actually being taught what the TEKS say they will learn. I have an enormous problem, however, with telling me that my kids have "individualized" ed. plans targeting the critical skills they need to learn, but oh-by-the-way let's all take the same 4th grade test. I just spent the day watching my kids stare at their writing test books. Will they pass? Maybe, maybe not. Will it matter? Not to their progress through school, because they have IEP's. However, if they don't pass, it shows up as failure when my school is listed in the paper with everyone else, thereby making it "my" failure. Sorry I sound a little cranky. Must be a case of "testing irregularity" - must self-medicate with that bottle of wine I've been saving!

Jess said...

The variability in testing environments even within the same district really gets to me. My DD took TAKS yesterday as did her good friend at another area school. DD was forced to wait, (sitting in her seat allowed to do nothing) after finishing the revising and editing portion of the test, for "most" of the others to finish before she could move on to composition (her weak point). Yes, the longer other students took on their weak points took away from her time to work on the section of the test that is her weak point. Does this make sense?

Then, after they finished the entire test, they had to sit there again doing nothing.

At the other school a few blocks away, children did test at own pace entirely (finishing one section and immediately going on to the next) and were allowed to read when they had finished. Why the differences? Aren't the rules supposed to be the same?

Mister Teacher said...

Geez, teachers frustrated by the tests? I'm so shocked! :)

Elysabeth, I think that your first statement is not fully correct. I can tell you first hand that teachers DO still teach, and not even all teaching is done "to the test." We do have to make sure that what we are teaching is also giving the kids exposure to HOW that topic is going to be presented on the test though, which is kind of a pain in the butt.
Teachers are really in a catch-22 here. We are told that it is a cardinal sin to teach to the test, yet we're also told that our entire worth as a professional will be based on this one test.
There is still lots of learning going on in the classroom. The real problem is that there is also a lot of forgetting AND a lot of stress over the test going on.
Jess, what I've always been told for the 4th grade Writing TAKS is that the administrator of the test has to assess when "most of the students are finished with the revising portion" before moving on. The administrator has to give the directions and the prompt to all of the kids at the same time. So they are not supposed to be moving around the room, repeating the prompt over and over, each time a child finishes the writing portion. Those are the instructions that WE as teachers receive. Why your daughter would not be allowed to read a book, I have no idea. I encourage my kids strongly NOT to turn their test in early, because ALL they can do for the rest of the day is read a book. They can read that book any time they want to in their lives, but they only get one shot at passing that test. Still, we have kids turn in their tests before 10:30 every year. They do get to read books at their desks, though.
Katie, I dread the day that teachers are punished for kids talking at lunch, second only to the day that kids DISCOVER that teachers could be punished for kids talking at lunch. What a mess we will have then.