Friday, January 22, 2010

everyone's favorite educational activity... testing

When Mr. Lipstick cheerfully asked what was happening at work today he was a little taken aback when my response was (after a deep grunt) "marching off to my death".

We spent all day today at a kindergarten training to learn how to give an assessment to English Language Learners, as required by Federal guidelines. I don't think it's a bad test, and I'm all for following the law and assessing our kiddos to see where they are. And I usually try to be a bit more positive.

But not today. Perhaps it was the lack of the 2 hour delay I'd been so hoping for. Perhaps it was the frustration of being away from my kids for an entire day. But whatever it was, I certainly did not start today in a good mood.

I understand the need for the test, and understand it is a federal law, but there is nothing more frustrating than spending hours giving a test that will not inform your instruction. The longer I teach special ed the more I've learned to appreciate assessments as a way to measure academic progress. I've learned to really use assessments to plan my next steps and guide my understanding of how to teach each individual child. But this test wont help us with that- it will only give information to the county, which gives the information to the state, which gives the information to the country, about how many English Language Learners we have in our school during the 2 month testing window (who, after having been administered the test, may leave the country forever.)

It's not a bad test for what it does, except that our heads started spinning 30 minutes into the training when we realized we'll be giving this test, which can take 45 minutes to an hour and ahalf, to each individual child. Each test must be administered in a secure room (not the hallway, not the back of the classroom), which means somehow someone is going to have to figure out how we manage to find enough empty rooms in our school to test the 500+ students who speak other languages, each student needing to use the room for about an hour, in a two month window- WHILE- wait for it... WHILE we are also administering the State test for 5th grade students.
It's tasks like that, which make me so, so thankful that I am not an administrator. God bless them.

I was chatting with one teacher who teaches half day kindergarten in a fairly upper-class neighborhood. I was listening to her complain about having to test both her AM and PM classes when I smugly pointed out that clearly she must not have nearly as many children to test as we do since the test is only given to students who speak another language at home. She shook her head. "actually, their parents fill out paperwork when they register saying that they speak another language at home because the nanny teaches them phrases, and if it is recorded on their official paperwork that there is another language in the home the student MUST be tested."

At least we're able to actually give the test to the students meant to take the test.

BUT, we will get it done. We have today to bang our heads against the wall, cry, stomp our feet and hyperventilate. But we'll take mull it over during the weekend and come in Monday ready to hit the ground running. We can do this. We can do hard things.
We can, we can, we can.

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