That being said, the other reality is that state testing is stressful, demanding, time-consuming and heart-breaking.
Yesterday my class finished the first round in math. For the past few weeks we took practice tests, did study sessions and brushed up on weak areas. We discussed what it would be like (this was the first time for third graders to take the test) and reminisced with the fourth graders about their experiences last year. I was feeling good. We had been working hard and we were ready to do it!
We tested for three days. For all three days, I tried to take the pressure off of them and be positive. I wanted to calm nerves and encourage those who still struggled with concepts. My enthusiasm was sky high as we rounded the final bend. But yesterday, the final day, as students one by one came up short on the passing score, my heart dropped. The results were not what I expected.
That is the hardest part about high-stakes testing. You feel so confident as you lead your students into the computer lab. You feel so smart and lucky to have such a great group of kids. You buy special pencils for them to use as encouragement to do their best. It is like a kick in the gut, though, when it feels like all your hard work has not paid off.
Now, I don't want to sound too dramatic. There were some bright spots in the day: I had a few kids who Met and one Exceeded and a handful of students who Nearly Met. That is wonderful and I am so happy for them and the hard work they did! Another success is that many of the students who did not score as high still did a great job during the test. I saw them using the stratgies that I had taught so I know not all hope is lost. And it is only February 1. We have more than two months to prepare for Round 2 so I know we will have more successes to share by the end of the year. But is still stings.
I always want to improve my teaching and be more effective. I will look at my plans and see where I can make adjustments. I want to set high expectations and scaffold my instruction so students can be successful on tests and in life! I know that with hard work, a positive attitude and maybe just a wee bit of luck, we will find success!
What are your strategies for getting through state testing? Share your stories here!