State Testing…and etc.

Posted on May 14, 2012Filed Under Cheech and Chong, testing, Tips | 7 Comments

Boy howdy, I’m really milking this one, huh?

I think, after a week and a half, we’re up to number three on our list of teacher tips for state testing. (This pace reminds me of the classic Sr. Mary Elephant bit from Cheech and Chong back in the day: “Now class, Sr. Rosetta Stone has told me that your assignment for the past two months has been to write an essay…”  And then none of them have it finished yet.)

[audio: & Chong – Sister Mary Elephant.mp3] Sister Mary Elephant

Ok. So far we have:
1. Teach ’em to game the test.
2. Teach ’em how to erase.

So, on to number three.

3. Somehow get them to buy into the conflicting ideas that a) the test is important to them and b) not to worry. News alert: Unless they are gluey high-schoolers in danger of failing the graduation requirement or unless they have parents who take these scores seriously, right now there really is no down side to doing poorly, other than pride. Our VP tries to scare the 8th graders by saying the high school (yes, in our town there’s only one) will take away their electives and put them into remedial classes if they lame out, but I doubt the veracity of his claim, and as a motivational strategy it would have to rank near the bottom. Plus, the whole test changes in two years anyway. How important could it be?

I try to appeal to their pride, their sense of competition. I do say say that people will make judgments about you based on these scores, but that it’s really about you, not other people.

The truth is that the test is much more important to us teachers and the administrators and city/county/state “officials” than it will ever be to them. But it’s kind of awkward to say, “Please do well, because everyone will think that I did a bad job if you don’t.”

4. Make sure the kids have something else to do. There is ALWAYS too much time allotted for most kids. ALWAYS. Whether you provide an activity or whether you require the kids to have a book or whatever (guess which one I prefer), make sure they have something else to do. Forty-plus minutes of shushing while you wait for that one kid is more work than teaching.

5. Bring a book, or stockpile stuff to grade. I never grade or read anything in the week leading up to testing. I know I will have plenty of time on my hands, so I save it up and plow through everything. Over the course of four days worth of testing, I usually end up with at least 5-7 extra hours of prep time. If you ain’t caught up by the end of testing, you’re assigning too much work to grade.

6. Relax.. Ain’t nuthin’ you can do about it now.


7 Responses to “State Testing…and etc.”

  1. Meg on May 14th, 2012 10:54 pm

    I will say that testing is a great time to get caught up and lesson planning done. AMEN!

    We do SAT 10 at our school for K-8th and it’s a nightmare. Especially since the Social Studies part is about 1/3 US history, and we’re an international school in China that doesn’t teach US history until high school. That’s when the whole: “Seriously kiddos, this test is only for teacher reference and will NOT affect your grade in any way” talk comes in.

    I suppose it could be worse. The K and 1st teacher have to dictate their tests for the whole week…

  2. Kelli on May 15th, 2012 5:39 am

    In Texas, 5th and 8th graders can be held back if they fail their state tests… this year, however, we have a fancy NEW test, so they’ve given us a reprieve on that requirement for this year. (Oddly, the new test looked just like the old test, but with a different logo on the front. Hmmm…)

    Sigh. This stuff makes my brain ache.

  3. Mrs. M~ on May 15th, 2012 8:07 am

    Standardized testing is one of the banes of my existence as a teacher. We each give our own subject’s state test during our class time, so by the time we are done with all subject areas, the kids have been testing for about three weeks straight. (But we all prefer this method–we have tried every other plan imaginable.) The kids get a break for a few weeks, then we have to do district testing in every subject. By that time the kids are sick to death of testing and could care less how they do. It is ridiculous!

    I can’t even make myself count how many weeks of school time are spent preparing for and giving tests–I would cry.

    I have heard about parents in other states refusing to allow their children to go through the testing. I wonder how we could rally all parents and start a revolt???? 🙂

  4. mrC on May 17th, 2012 8:03 pm

    @ Kelli – Texas. ’nuff said. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  5. Mrs. Loves the Beach on May 26th, 2012 8:22 pm

    Back in the day, I used to get all kinds of work done during testing. Now, the only thing we are allowed to do is watch the kids take the test with the occasional walking up and down the rows to make sure they are on the right section. Our kids are not allowed to have anything else with them during the test….not a book, not a paper, nada, zilch, zero. The times are extremely tight on our testing so that’s not too bad. We, the teachers, are not allowed to read anything or do anything else but WATCH them for 4 days of testing…..I have feared falling asleep from the boredom, but the snoring would be a problem and then I’d have to fill out an irregularity report and be fined and then…..well, Governor Christie would probably use me as an example why public school teachers shouldn’t be paid at all.
    Welcome to New Jersey. Standardized testing is for politicians and for those who make big $$$ from it.

  6. mrC on May 26th, 2012 11:06 pm

    O M G. I actually Googled your “irregularity report.” I don’t know where “falling asleep to escape terminal boredom” would fall. Maybe under “other.” Although in that atmosphere, it might be considered a “security breach.” I remember now that somebody else commented awhile back that her state made them do the same thing. Do the admins do surprise drive-by’s to try to catch you with a red pen in your hand? Or do they depend on the kids narc’ing you off? Last year our VP really emphasized that we should show that it’s serious by not doing other stuff while the kids tested. Like the sight of us staring at them blankly and shuffling by at regular intervals is going to inspire them to greatness. Your last comment is right on the money. Gawd.

  7. Mrs. Loves the Beach on May 27th, 2012 6:46 pm

    The admins definitely do their drive-by’s, but there are also drive-by’s from people from “The State” (NJ Dept of Ed? who really knows? Actors maybe?? People who can fit the suit?? idk) They can make their presence known in any school at any time. They scare the bejeezus out of us to avoid having any “security breaches.” If a kid breaks the seal on the test section for the wrong day…’s about 4 phone calls and 3 written reports. I suspect they call the hotline to Homeland Security, too.

    On another note, I emailed you a couple years back to “borrow” some stuff for my 7th graders and I think I even asked you something about the number of students you have. As you can see, I still come back. I use the word “Show” instead of tell constantly now, thank you very much. Lastly, just this past week I was giving an assessment on The Giver. When I told the kids I was trying out some questions from another teacher, one of my boys said, “Is that the teacher from California?” That made me chuckle, but this time it was not yours. 🙂

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