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Testy about Testing

On Tuesday, I attended a CCSS training in an old ratty training center that is supposed to be central for everyone, but I'm not buying it. On the way there, I got into a minor accident that had me all shaky the rest of the day (very minor, everything is just fine!) I met a sweet blog reader (Hi Ellie!) while I was there, so that was cool. But I have to say I was getting a tiny bit frustrated with some of what was being said at the training.

One of the sessions started with a blurb about America's decline in regard to global education rankings. I'm wondering how this measure is taken. It's not as though every country is giving the same assessment. Heck, not every state is giving the same assessment. Is it taken into account that as a nation we accept every single child into our schools with open arms, regardless of mental or physical disabilities, race, religion or value placed on education, which is not the case in some of the countries we're being compared to. But more importantly,  I can't help but think that the tests that are given to today's students are markedly more difficult and complex than those given to students years ago. The bar is consistently being raised and the standards are getting ever higher. Case in point: one of the trainers shared a current sample test question for third graders. Here it is:
This is for a third grader. An eight year old. A child who just learned how to add two years ago.
Did you guess the right answer? It's I. The third grader is supposed to be able to understand that they should use the variable 'b' to stand for the total number of beach balls, then divide it by the number of friends at the party if each one got 2 balls.

I grew up in the 80's, the era when we were supposedly more "globally competitive". I will tell you that my third grade math test did NOT look like that. Maybe my 6th grade test, but definitely not third grade. My third grade test would have just asked me to find the answer to the question, not formulate an equation with a variable that could be used to solve it. So when it's stated that the American students' test scores have slipped so much, I keep thinking about things like this. What are we comparing? If we gave today's fifth graders the same test I took as a fifth grader, would it look like we've made amazing progress as I suspect, or would it still show a steep decline? Is it me? What do you think?

I don't want to seem like I'm against CCSS, because I'm not. I'm fully embracing it and I'm excited about it. I also don't want to seem like I'm against raising the bar for our students. I think it's necessary and possible.  I'm just worried about the way the results of today's test scores are compared to those of years ago when the tests are nowhere near the same level. I'm not suggesting we use the test from years ago, but comparing the results is kind of like apples and oranges.

So, enough of my soap-box for today. I will leave you with the one thing that did crack me up at the training. During one portion, a trainer had the full attention of about 35 teachers in the room when she said that the one thing she'd really like to see a lot more of in elementary school classrooms is porn! The poor woman turned about 12 different shades of red. She meant to say poems! When someone asked her, she admitted that she was reading 50 Shades of Grey... I guess that story sticks with ya!!

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21 comments:

  1. I'm right there with ya!!! I attended a CCSS 4 day training last summer and boy was I overwhelmed!!! If I had a hard time wrapping my head around it how am I supposed to teach it?!?! Not to mention I truly believe it is way over our students' head. I have to be honest here.... I put one thing on the lesson plans I turn in, and teach another way completely. CLEARLY whoever is up there waisting our tax dollars creating new standards and tests hasn't been in the classroom!!!!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

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  2. I'm SO glad to hear your comments about testing. I'm right with you! I wonder how they compare when everyone uses different tests too!
    When I taught 2nd grade a few years ago one of the passages was about Neil ARmstrong's moon landing. The question was "What did Neil Armstrong mean when he said 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.'" Seriously!!!! For 2nd graders! How many adults would have trouble with that one? One of the answer choices was something about feet. You can guess which answer they chose. I'm just sitting here shaking my head.
     Chrissy

    First Grade Found Me

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  3. I am right there with you on the testing. That sample question was ridiculous! I think that the decision makers keep forgetting that while it is important to have high expectations, they need to be within the developmental abilities of children. Sadly, this seems to be overlooked time after time.

    Aimee
    Primarily Speaking

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  4. I love your view on todays testing and education!! You took the words right out of my mouth!!
    Barbara
    happyteachingfirst.blogspot.com

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  5. I can't agree more with you! Kids are over-tested in ways that are contrary to scientific based research! These standardized tests are making corporations like Pearson richer and leave our students feeling like failures. My kids (in Texas) just took the STAAR test and it was a grueling, four hour long test. Completely inappropriate for an eight year old. I wish I could say more about it, but unfortunately, we are made to sign an oath promising we won't talk about it, lest we lose our certificate. Ridiculous, but it is what it is. Luckily, I find so much hope and inspiration from my co-workers and bloggers like you! Thanks for all you do. :)

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  6. I am your newest follower!
    I love your ideas!!! You're great :)


    Miss Elementary

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  7. Very well said. I think most (no, maybe all) educators feel this way, too. Why can't we get the folks in politics and the folks making the tests to agree with us? I can't believe what we expect our kids to be doing. We just spent the last 4 days testing to DEATH. Each day, we worked from about 8:15 until at least 10:00 (sometimes 11:00). It's crazy. Plain crazy. I'm so drained that I had to come home today and take a nap to recover. I'm an adult who didn't even have to take the test. Can you imagine what my kids must be feeling?

    Thanks for posting this...let's get the conversation going!

    Elizabeth
    Fun in Room 4B

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  8. I live and teach in Switzerland. Kids begin school at 7 years old! They socialize up until then! Once they turn 7, the go to school 5 mornings and maybe one afternoon a week. I guarantee they aren't taking assessment tests either. I'm always surprised how they can start so late but learn so much, including 2 or 3 different languages before high school! More food for thought!
    www.teachinginswitzerland.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. I totally AGREE with kids starting school at 7 years old. There has been research done to show that is when THEY ARE READY. Unfortunately I see the reverse as the norm, at least here in the USA--let's start pushing kids into preschools (academically based, not socially based) and expect them to know more sooner. If we're not careful, soon politicians and other decision makers will be expecting moms to pop babies out of their wombs fully literate!

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  9. We are testing our Kindergarteners so much now too. This week we have 2 End of the Year tests by our district. One for Science and one for Math. Whole group testing. And they have it scheduled to take 60-80 minutes. with a 3-5 minute stretch break inbetween. Now we know studies say that 5-6 year olds can only concentrate in blocks of 15-20 minutes.. If you are lucky you can stretch it longer but not my kiddos.. we get maybt 10 minutes in if they are interested.

    We also have 3 separate reading tests to give the kiddos this month... one on one.. and administrate says "you must continue doing RTI and collecting data up till the last day" not sure when they plan us to assess if we are to be pulling Guided Reading groups too...

    Sorry had to vent :(

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  10. After reading this post I just want to stand up and shout AMEN & HALLELUJAH! I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, all this testing is one of the main reasons I retired in 2005 after being in the classroom 31 1/2 years! I now work in many different schools in our area supervising student teachers. Everywhere I go teachers are so unhappy with so much testing, cookie-cutter teaching, and no one (other than them) seemingly thinking about the kids and what is developmentally appropriate for them. My grandson is going into 3rd grade next year and although he does very well in math, I don't think he would know the answer to the test question you posed. He could figure out the "answer" for you but probably wouldn't have gotten this one right. I have always loved teaching and education, but my heart is often heavy about what is going on in our schools now. Too many "politicians" and people who have lost all contact with the classroom are making all the decisions. As you can tell, this is also one of my soapboxes!!!! I taught 2nd grade for 29 of my years and loved every minute of it. Hope you have had a wonderful year and that you get lots of rest and relaxation this summer.

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  11. Absolute total agreement with this post and comments. Even here in Barbados the children are being pushed too hard. We are expected to test on every subject every week! When do we teach? Let the children be children! Have a blessed summer!

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  12. LOVE this post! I feel the same way about testing, it's so frustrating! And gotta love the 50 shades of grey reference, loved the books!

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  13. I was thinking you have hit the nail on the head the whole time I was reading your post! And I agree with every comment made by every poster! I just wish those in charge would listen to those of us in the trenches with the real experience and knowledge of our students.

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  14. omgosh!!!! THIS has been my argument too!!!! I taught my 3rd graders math I was learning in middle school!! What about in the 50s/60s???How on EARTH did we ever get a man on the moon without our THIRD graders knowing this math????!!!! grrrrr...reason #341 why I wanted out of 3rd

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  15. Just discovered your blog! Now I am your newest follower! I look forward to reading more from you! I am a 3rd grade teacher and we just finished our 3 days of testing. Still waiting to see the results! Come on over to my blog when you a chance...

    http://timeoutsandtootsierolls.blogspot.com

    :D Angie

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  16. Well ladies...It's a relief to know I am not the only one that feels this way. I have been teaching 17 years and I still love what I do, but I really am resenting what is happening to education. Kids should love coming to school. I am all up for challenging kids, but it needs to be developmentally appropriate. We are teaching our kids to fill in a bubble...they have a one and four chance of getting the answer right. The "higher ups" feel the best way to improve is to shove more down their throats. Hey! Here is a new concept...let's master 10 concepts instead of a 100. Then maybe they will actually learn and retain something. I think every politician or anyone who is making these insane choices needs to spend some time in classrooms...and I mean classrooms of all socioeconomic levels, abilities, etc. Thanks everyone for speaking up. It's nice to know there's more educators who feel this way!!

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  17. I think your really on to something here! Well put! Alicia P.

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