shared via @ToddWhitaker
NEWSFLASH: I, along with 99% of educators & administrators, can’t stand state testing. I will be the first to admit that I get dragged down with the amount of planning, fear mongering, data interpretation, blah blah blah… and all for what? Frustrated students? Angry parents? Shoddy data at best? As a teacher who’s subject was never state-tested before in NJ, and as an administrator seeing all of the stress from parents, staff, and students, I’ve come to thoroughly dislike it. Now that’s that all out, I know it’s not going anywhere – quite the opposite actually. New Jersey switching to the PARCC in 2015, a new online assessment that circumvents around the Common Core curricula.
So, how do we in schools deal with the testing tomfoolery? Everyone has their own tricks — here are my five ways:
1. Make post-testing times one of relaxation or entertainment. If your students don’t go home after testing, the last thing students or staff want to do is go at it in a full-fledged lesson. This is an optimal time to schedule assemblies, grade-level activities, pep rallies, or something extra curricular. Down time is essential.
2. Leave the fear mongering alone. We’re peppered with constant negativity and harshness if we don’t do well on these tests. Everyone knows ‘what’s at stake’ besides bragging rights at the soccer game or in aisle 5… money. Simple encouragement of telling everyone to do their best is sufficient for me, my teachers, and my students. If your district needs money that bad, turn to grant writing. There’s plenty of grants out there.
3. FOOD FOOD FOOD!!! Kids having food before testing has been proven to increase test scores. If your school is not offering food before testing, why not?! Some districts go as far as offering a catered breakfast each morning before testing. Food is great for teachers too; put dirt on a plate in a teachers room, and it will be eaten. Whether it’s a fresh pot of coffee brewing, or snacks after testing, food makes everyone happier. Just remember to be mindful of your allergies among staff & students.
4. Take breaks in between test prep. I’ve seen too many classrooms where all day, every day it’s strictly kill-n-drill. Do people really wonder why standardized testing is hated so much? How would you feel if all you did was prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and prepare and…well you get it. Break up the day; break up the units; break up the lessons, and please, please PLEASE… if you have been instructed / are instructing kill-n-drill, DIFFERENTIATE. Try to recall what it was like for YOU to take the test… kinda like this:
5. Remember why we’re all here in the first place. I have a couple knickknacks hanging around my office. One of them is a plaque that a student gave me my first year teaching that reads “I am not a teacher, I am an awakener.” I have a homework pass from a former student who earned it after trying SO hard in class and reaching his goal (this was his reward). I’ll even admit I have a picture of Mr. Belding, a Principal from the TV show ‘Saved By The Bell’ in my office… reminding me that he always had his students in his best interest and did what was right and best. Don’t let a few days ruin your time in school. This too shall pass, and we’ll all be back to a normal school day in no time.