Saturday, March 24, 2012

SOLC Day 24~ testing in 3rd grade

At 8:51 a.m. I left the bookroom (my office) to pick up six young assessees from four classrooms. Pickup time was 8:55 a.m. I didn't want to be late. I waited a few extra minutes for five of the six as they got their last minute directions and bits of advice from their classroom teachers on the best strategies to use when test taking. The teachers looked a bit worried when I walked in. I said I'd wait outside and students could come out when they were ready. Is anyone ever ready for testing?

These students formed my small group, my team for the morning and were together because they get very interested in so many things all at once and a classroom full of 25 students would provide too much opportunity for interesting things to consider while they are taking a test. We can't let this to get in the way of their best answers on the test. I mean practice test.

We spend a lot of time and resources practicing for the real thing. The conditions, environment, groupings, accommodations, scheduling, assigning of space, rearranging of lunches and specials and quiet are all planned and synchronized so we can provide the most realistic version of standardized testing possible. It's like going into battle. It's scary.
Personally, I don't think the majority of third graders are developmentally ready for this kind of battle, I mean synchronizing. It takes endurance, patience, confidence, and rationalizing. Not to mention the reading comprehension that's required to answer the questions and that's just in the math assessments. They sit for long periods of time. They have to be quiet, mind and body. They have to believe they can do pretty well and they have to be able to understand why this kind of assessment is important for their future. Most third graders aren't able to think about the next five minutes, let alone their future.

I don't believe it's the best way to show what students should know or be able to do. But, it is a fact of life. So our teachers spend time teaching students how to build endurance, patience, have confidence about test taking, and how to understand why we take these kinds of tests. It's a whole genre on its own. In fact, one of our reading teachers, Amy Greene and a former third grade teacher, Glennon Doyle Melton, co-wrote the book. Literally. It's called Test Talk. I admit I work on these strategies with some ambilavence.

Just before my little team and I walk out of our small group testing space, I give permission for students to perform acts of arm flatulence and mouth popping, giving credence to the spontaneous performances a few minutes earlier. They are thrilled but wary. I just want them to get it out of their systems before we enter a quiet hallway. They readily accept this invitation and I know my ambivalence is justified.

1 comment:

Tara said...

I just loved that last part, when you let your kids BE kids. How lucky they are to have you!