… and here we go again.
That time of year that everybody loathes.. state testing. Here in the great state of New Jersey, the NJASK (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge) starts with 7th & 8th graders next week. Some good news and bad news. The good news? This is the last year of NJASK. The bad news? It’s getting replaced with a new assessment, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College & Careers).
The build-up, from every angle, is ridiculous. Scads & scads of student kill-n-drill activities, stressed out teachers, testing coordinators and that nervous wrecks, and all of this extram emphasis on eating well and getting good sleep (which really should be happening everyday, not just for four days). While I have expressed my views on here before on why I hate yearly assessment, it’s not going away, and I have to deal with it.
The very least we can do is try to have some fun during the week. Here are five ways I have broken up the testing misery for both students & staff:
1. If you’re in school for a full day session, lighten up the academic load. Everyone is tired and stressed from hours of testing. Use the afternoon to try some lessons or activities that don’t need much structure, heavy thought, and can be fun. The afternoons are perfect times for assemblies, presentations, or that movie that you wanted to show but could never fit it in during the year.
2. Faculty Food! Now is the perfect time to arrange a pot-luck in the faculty room. We all know free food brings everyone in droves… and we also know that you can have dirt on a plate in a faculty room and someone will take / eat it. Something simple like this also livens up spirits and is easy to arrange.
3. Student collaborative fun projects. Over the years, I’ve seen some great projects that take place after testing. One of my favorites was when students developed their own board games relating to a historical unit. It wasn’t just developing the rules, it was actually making the game and playing it.
4. Grade-wide outdoor activities. I saw an entire grade play ‘capture the flag’ after a morning of testing. What a great way for everyone to release! I also observed some teacher take their classes out and sit under a tree to read. What a great way to relax!
5. Remember, it’s just a test. Yes, it dictates where students are placed, and yes, these scores will be tied to your evaluation in the upcoming years, but IT”S STILL JUST A TEST! Don’t let it ruin all of the hard work and effort that you and your students achieved this year.
Best of luck to all during this time period. I hope you get to enjoy some time your students and co-workers during the week. After this, time flies… and before we know it… we’re getting ready for the next school year.