Super TuesdayToday is Testing Day in the Great State of Texas.
Every third, fourth and fifth grader are testing today as part of the No Child Left Behind act. It's the first reading test for third and fifth, the writing test for fourth. You can tell by the time of this post that I'm not worried at all.
For the past few months, we've been working on skills to aid in reading comprehension - context clues, main idea, predicting, comparing. For the past few weeks, we've "endurance tested" the kids to make sure they don't wear out when they get to that last story. We teach strategies, like naming what kind of question they're being asked, what skill, and what strategies they use to figure out the skill.
For the past few months, I've walked the fine line between stressing the importance of the test and stressing the kids. Yesterday, we didn't even talk about the test till the last thirty minutes, when we rearranged my classroom into testing mode.
Today I will go in my classroom and remove all visual aids, including the alphabet. I will pick up the secure documents and bring them to my classroom. We will have hallway monitors, including one from the district office to make sure no irregularities occur. We will not have PE, and we will eat lunch with our kids to make sure they don't talk about the test. (It's worse at my mom's school. Even the little kids won't have PE or recess today - I don't see the point in that. It's a big school, and they won't be disturbing anyone.) I cannot look at the test except to make sure that the kids have not marked on the bars at the edges of the scored booklet. Every time we leave the room, I must lock up the test. Every book must be accounted for. My children's performance will be part of my evaluation (the school's performance was part of my evaluation even when I was music teacher.)
My students may not get up out of their seats, even after they're finished. I know I'll have two done in two hours. That means they have to sit and read for the rest of the day (I know, what a hardship.) I also know that no matter how much time I give four of my students, they will not pass. They'll have another shot in April. They won't pass then, either, but hopefully one will be in Special Ed by then and the other in dyslexia. One of them will be so stressed today that she may shut down. I worry about her the most, even though her mother and I decided holding her back may be the best for her in the long run.
Two of my boys will pass, but it will be a fine line. If they stress too much, forget it. They'll pass the second go-round, I'm sure of it, but I sure hope they pass today.
In two weeks, we'll know, and we'll come up with more strategies. But damn, what a way to teach.