State Testing – Keep, Change, Move Away From?

State Testing – Keep, Change, Move Away From?

We are in state testing time here in Colorado. As we test our scholars and children, the questions to ask is what are the benefits of state testing? Do we keep state testing? If we keep it, how can we improve it?

There are a lot of things about state testing that irritate me (just being honest). We are asked to differentiate for our scholars all year long, yet when it comes to testing, how does that differentiating help them? I am particularly bothered by our documented IEP kiddos having to endure a test that we know they will fail. My opinion is that sets them up for failure, and does nothing to build them up in their struggles. Is this fair to them to be compared to the “average” scholar?

I do like that we are comparing schools against schools on the same standards (using the same test and rules). I think that as we compare ourselves to one another, we can look at those that are successful. Where we are failing is taking this information, and sharing what is making the school successful, and how can we implement it statewide to ensure all of our schools are being successful. Instead of making it a competition to be the best, why can’t we use it as a platform to find the most successful strategies and share?

Some of us work in schools were our scholars are coming to school with huge weights on their shoulders. From issues of when will they get their next meal, which gang is trying to recruit them, what language do they speak, and I could continue on with this list. How are we supporting those schools in lifting their scholars to success? Those tend to be our lowest performing schools, yet we criticize the teachers and the administrators, saying they are failing. This makes the playing field unfair, unjust, and again, just sets our scholars up for failure instead of success.

Lets address the issue of language in state testing. If we are expecting our second language learners to take this test and show what they really know, why are we not providing it their native language? Especially for our ELL 1 & 2. We know they can’t speak or read English, yet we are expecting them to take a test in English.

I love that our testing is now online in Colorado. It is moving with the shifting and change of the times. Yet, many of our schools are not properly shored up with the technology to prepare our scholars for this. Taking them to the computer lab once or twice a year, in no way prepares them to be able to type an essay or manipulate the mouse and keyboard. Scholars instead focus on pecking out their words, and less on what their content is.

I believe having a testing platform across the state is great and I am totally supportive. I just think some issues need to be looked at before we condemn schools, teachers, administrators, and our scholars. We need to level the playing field so that every school can build up successful scholars who are confident taking the test, instead of hyperventilating.

What are your thoughts?

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Patty Benton is a 4th grade teacher located in Colorado. Her passion is helping every student recognize there are no glass ceilings. They are all capable of reaching for new goals, and obtaining them. Patty was raised in Iowa, but now lives in Colorado with her three beautiful children and one crazy, crazy dog named Izzy and a sweet gentle dog named Ginger. She loves having the mountains “right there” for adventuring, but also enjoys being in a major metropolitan area. As a family (minus Ginger & Izzy, of course!), they volunteer at a local food bank and Patty was the ministry leader for a Single Parent’s Ministry.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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