Victory Friday: Testy About Testing Yet?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Roswellsgirl's

Image courtesy of Flickr user Roswellsgirl’s

Teachers throughout Columbus City Schools have already begun to administer the Ohio Achievement Test (OAT) and will continue to test grades 3 through 8 in the coming weeks. Standardized testing can be an extremely stressful period of time, punctuated with moments of levity and sincerity on the parts of both teachers and students.

To that end, The CEA Blog has culled the best standardized testing vignettes from teachers and administrators throughout the national blogosphere and packaged them together for this “Victory Friday” edition.

Middle school teacher Pete explains where the term “Victory Friday” comes from.

What is Victory Friday? (It) is obviously celebrated on Friday as a victory over the work week. It also serves as a jumping off point to a relaxing weekend.

The CEA Blog wishes its members a hale and hearty “Victory Friday” for this week and those left in the school year. Click on the “More” tab below to continue reading.

Elementary School

Principal’s Office

Elementary Principal Beth from What I Should Have Said recalls a sudden loss of bladder control in one of her testing students.

“One child in the fourth grade got so nervous, she wet her pants. Thankfully, the test remained on high ground.”

First Grade

Erica, a first grade teacher in Baltimore was queried by her administrator about her first graders’ readiness for the upcoming state test:

“The administration was asking me and the other first and second grade teachers if we and our students were ready. “I sure hope so,” I replied. Six pairs of eyes stared at me…”

Third Grade

Jan, a third grade teacher in California (who writes at planetjan) muses on what achievement testing actually measures.

“Even my principal, at a recent staff meeting, worried out loud that all this emphasis on test results could lead to “unethical behavior,” or as one teacher shouted out, “You mean, teachers might cheat!”

Angela, a third-grade teacher who writes at The Cornerstone Blog recalls an email describing a student who finished testing early:

“One of my students who finished early is so bored he is CHEWING ON HIS CHAIR.”

Fifth Grade

Teacher at They Call Me Teacher looked toward the upcoming NYC fifth grade math tests with dread.

“I hate that testing is on my brain. The school I teach at and schools across the city, the state, the country are not driven by anything but by testing. When will this change? When will we see this turn out to fail so many students… mine, for example.”

Mr. Jacobson, a 5th grade teacher and blogger at Deep Thoughts describes what a good teacher should do in a standardized testing situation:

“But–if a teacher is truly a good teacher, he or she should simply continuing doing what they are doing and STOP WORRYING about “teaching to the test.”

Ungraded

Elementary Teacher Doug from Borderland recalls what happened when his kids were told about the end goal of NCLB.

“Then I told them that each year, more and more kids were expected to pass, leading up to the year 2014, when everyone would be expected to pass. Loud guffaws and unsolicited comments broke out all around.”

Katie’s elementary students would like to change her curriculum to match their testing schedule:

“While talking about things that we would like to change about schools, my students mentioned how they thought that we shouldn’t have to do social studies this year.  I asked why, and they stated that because we do not have to take a state test over it, why bother?”

Tamara, an elementary teacher from Missouri was emailed directions about what to do if  a tornado appears while she is administering the state test to her students.

“Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.”

Middle School

Sixth Grade

Kara, a sixth grade New Orleans teacher speaks to the need for cultural/social neutrality on state assessments:

“I used to laugh at the idea that tests needed to be catered to students’ cultural and social backgrounds. After all, reading is reading, and if you can read, then surely you can get the correct answer out of the passage. But, as has been the case multiple times this year, I was almost completely wrong.”

Sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Lefty confesses her nervousness when she gives her students their state tests.

“It is all that I can take to not show the fear that is in me when I give the test to my students.”

Seventh Grade

Heather, a seventh grade language arts teacher in California advises colleagues to instruct their students how to speak test.

“The language used in tests is unlike any other language or dialect. The word analyze, for instance, is not easily defined. It’s vague and, frankly, one that many teachers couldn’t define without an “um, it’s like . . .” as a lead in.”

Kirsten reflects on her seventh grade language arts students’ small victories leading up to her state’s test.

Eighth Grade

Ariel Sacks, an eighth-grade English teacher in New York reflects on the standardized test score gains of the students she has looped with.

Eighth grade teacher Happychyck is the subject of a wager among her test-taking students.

“Two boys came up to me at 7:00 am and told me there was a pool going around about what time I would crack.”

“Crack? I’m not the one taking the test.”

Ungraded

Middle school English teacher Donna wonders why her students are flying through their state tests:

“Either I’ve helped them become brilliant and efficient test takers and students, or they just want to finish and move on to something else.”

Middle school teacher Lissa’s (biological) kids are sick, but the test is only a few days away-should she stay home or go to work?

“But I keep thinking about my students who are so close to this test.  This really specific test that will ask them to do really specific things with the not-at-all interesting reading passages.  I want to be there to coach them in last minute test-taking tricks.”

Special Education Ungraded

State testing has placed strict guidelines on what can be taught, and how much time is available to teach it, writes Chris, a Colorado middle school special education teacher at denver2durango.

“It absolutely breaks my heart when I hear a student in a class that asks a question that is kind of on topic (maybe slightly off) with what’s being discussed and the teacher says they don’t have time to go into it.”

Middle school Special Education teacher/blogger Patience explains her true feelings about her state’s tests on her blog, Pieces of the Puzzle:

“So I have to step back and spend the rest of this week encouraging and supporting my kids while they take a test that I don’t believe in, but whose scores determine state funding and the success of my program.”

High School

Principal’s Office

Duane, a high school principal laments the negative branding of student failure in the public eye:

“We have lost the ability to embrace failure as a stepping stone to success. Now, if we fail a test or a class or a year, children are lumped together with other failures as being “at-risk,” put into classes to remediate them while being taken out of classes they might enjoy, all so they can eventually, maybe, pass the state test that determines whether their time in school has been worth it…to the state.”

Teacher’s Lounge

Dan, a New Jersey high school teacher laments the push to “teach to the test” on Dan’s Blog.

“As much as I hate to say, it is acceptable to “teach to the test” in many circumstances. Just the term “high-stakes testing” makes it so. I’ve heard that term about five times from administrators this season, in regards to the state tests. It’s pretty much taken for granted that English and math teachers are doing deliberate test prep in their classrooms.”

High school teacher tabsmom fields questions and complaints from her students during testing week in Philadelphia.

“Then there is the complaining: “This is too much work!” “This isn’t fair!” “This is too hard!” “You didn’t have to do THIS when you were in high school, did you?!” “Why are we doing this?” “This is stupid!” “Why can’t I talk on my phone during class?”

How much time have you lost in your instructional year due to testing, pep rallies and other interruptions? Jim, a high school language arts teacher counted each second taken from his classes for an entire year.

The Black Briefcase, a school psychologist who writes at an eponymously named blog describes the pressure placed on ELL learners in standardized testing situations:

“It has to be really frustrating for a student to sit there and struggle through a test that’s not in your native language, a language that you’ve been exposed to for only a year or two.”