Monday, February 1, 2016

The Test: What Teaching is All About

 
So a week ago, I got an email that I needed to report to a "mandatory meeting" about the "state test" after school. Needless to say, I. Was. Psyched.

I mean, let's get real: that's why I got into teaching! Watching kids fill in little tiny bubbles with #2 pencils? Who could ask for a more fulfilling day? So I made sure to arrive early at the meeting. I brought my handy dandy notebook and a purple pen. I staked out a spot in the front. I didn't want to miss a thing.

When my AP arrived at the meeting, I could tell she was pretty excited about the training, too. She'd made a powerpoint and everything! And it was full of citations of legal documents and pictures of non-examples! This was going to be good.

I was riveted during the whole meeting. Here are some of the things I learned about:
The day before the test, I get to plan out a new seating arrangement for my room! The kids shouldn't be able to communicate at all. Let's get real here; that's not what education is about. It's about choosing the right answer out of four choices! That's what we do in real life! 

So anyway, my seating chart is really really important. At any time during the test, some person I don't know and have never seen before (can you say Mystery Date?!) can come into my room and demand to see it! I have to show where each nine-year-old is sitting and write their test booklet number and their student ID! Now, that's thorough!
During the test, I get to do this really cool thing called, "Active Monitoring." That means that while the kids are taking their four-hour test, I don't have to sit behind my desk and read a boring magazine or et some work done onmy laptop. In fact, I'm not supposed to bring my laptop on that day at all! Instead, I'm going to actively monitor my students by walking around the room and making sure they're working on the right part of the test.

Here's the really challenging part: I can't actually look at the test! I have to make sure they're working on the test without looking at it! What a riot! I'm really looking forward to challenging my management skills with this fun paradox. At this point in the meeting, I made a cute little sketch of my classroom in my notebook. I used a yellow highlighter to mark the path I plan to take around my room for four hours.

Planning this fun day makes me look forward to it even more!
We learned a lot about what happens when you don't do active monitoring. And that includes: public shaming, getting fired, and losing your your teaching certificate! Wow! I feel really good that our state takes this so seriously.
It's going to be a fun day for my students, too. It'll be their 'time to shine' and show what they know! I know they're looking forward to it because they talk about it all the time. Sometimes I feel like that's what they think school is about! Ha! Aren't kids funny?

I'm so glad I've been working on independent reading stamina, because it's finally going to pay off on the test day! I'm so relieved, because I always felt like it was so much wasted time. It turns out, the kids will have four hours to complete a 40-some question test with about five or six passages. Finally, an opportunity to put all that time spent reading to good use!
During the four hour test, if they take a bathroom break, I have to make a note on their answer sheet. They don't get that time back or anything, but data collection is kind of a hobby of mine. I'm really excited to have data on my kids' bathroom habits. I think it's the missing piece to my instruction. I might even make it into a data wall.

I haven't even told you the best part: this test is going to determine if I am a good teacher and if my students are good learners! I have to say, I am really impressed by whoever came up with this system. Why spend so much time on 'authentic assessment' when a one-shot deal will serve just as well? I can't wait to find out if I'm a good teacher!
Too bad the results on some of the tests won't be ready until a week after school lets out in the summer. At least I'll have something to do on my long, boring days at home by myself! Shout it with me: DISAGGREGATE!

I have to be honest. I was totally pumped about this awesome new teaching challenge, but I was also starting to feel stressed about administering this top-secret test. I mean, it's obviously the most important thing I'm going to do in my teaching career! I don't want to mess it up! 

Fortunately, we're going to have lots of opportunities to learn. I'll get to take some online courses about 'testing security', participate in a few more faculty meetings, and read a really long handbook that will probably clear up all of my questions. When the big day finally comes, I think I'll be ready!
Do you get to give a 'high stakes test', too? Are you as pumped as me?

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7 comments:

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  2. Oh my word! This might be the funniest thing I have ever read! I'm dying over here! Brilliant!

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  3. You are in luck! We have another meeting this week about the OTHER high stakes test! Yippee! (This test isn't 4 hours... It's 4 weeks!)

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