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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 18 2012

same thing… different perspective

Standardized testing…. I think it makes everyone cringe and want to roll their eyes. I never liked them growing up. I remember beginning Iowa Test of Basic Skills in kindergarten, and they were soooooo boring.  I was definitely a child that at times didn’t read all the questions and just filled in bubbled. Whoops! As a grew older, I slowly learned that they were somewhat important. I liked being smart and winning so I started to care a little more about the results. When it came time for the ACT, I knew that mattered, but mostly just because I didn’t want to be dumber than my sister.

But now…. standardized testing is a very overwhelming thought. Standardized testing results have been gaining more and more weight and attention in the last 10 years within education on both a national level and at the individual instructor level. I generally support the weight that standardized testing has though there are plenty of modifications that need to continue to be evaluated and made. In Delaware, English and Math DCAS (statewide standardized test acronym) are given three times a year. Tomorrow my math class will take their tests, and I am TERRIFIED. With computer based assessments, I’ll have results tomorrow as soon as my students are done. I’m scared. At this point, I know that it could prove my success or utter failure, but it’s more than just me failing myself now. Tomorrow I’ll have solid numbers to indicate whether or not I deserve to be here and whether or not I’m failing my children. It also will likely be very telling of the amount of extra work I’ll feel the pressure to do before June. I’m thankful to have a mid-year check, but it’s terrifying at the same time.

Side note…. You’ll note that I said we take Math and English three times a year. What about the other core subjects you ask? Students in Delaware take Social Studies and Science not three times a year but instead once every three years. In the 8th grade, science is tested. My studentes haven’t been tested on science since the 5th grade. So come May, my students’ scores will reflect what they’ve learned for the last three years. Those scores will also be attached to my name, and I’m held accountable for what they have and haven’t learned in all of middle school science. You might wonder if this sends a sign to the students that the state doesn’t care about science or social students. It does. They all know that no one cares about anything but math and reading, and quite frankly everything I’ve seen within the state I get the same feeling. I could go on for awhile about the ridiculousness of this, but I’ll subject you to just one thought. Statistics show that the jobs that are increasing and that companies can’t find enough people to do are science related. This is only expected to grow my the time my students enter the workforce. I struggle to believe that when we clearly send the message that science doesn’t matter we’re not helping this issue. Just a thought.

2 Responses

  1. Ironically, part of the reason it’s such a shame that governments devalue SS and science is that those classes are great opportunities for kids to learned applied, contextual math and English, the very things the governments want to focus on. I have plenty of students who do poorly in their Math classes but will work diligently carrying out more practical math tasks for science experiments, using their calculations to to engage in higher level thinking, analysis…good Math teachers try to bring the world into the Math classroom, but we also need to be doing the reverse, bringing math into the students’ worlds.

  2. Quoted for emphasis “I struggle to believe that when we clearly send the message that science doesn’t matter we’re not helping this issue. Just a thought.”

    It’s up to the instructor to counter these signals, but it doesn’t make our jobs any easier.

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