March 10, 2008

Every Other Day of the Week is Fine (with apologies to the Mamas & Papas)

Tomorrow, the state testing starts for my high school. Kids will be spending hours over the next two weeks testing their skills in math, reading, writing, and science. I teach English--thus 1/2-2/3 of the test, depending on the grade.

I get a little stressed out this time of year. The importance and weight of state standardized testing in the past decade or so has increased the pressure on teachers. We must find a way to communicate the correct information and we must help students succeed, or we must not be doing our jobs correctly. Just last week, I had a student ask, "If we do badly on the test, doesn't that make you a bad teacher?" I was a bit floored. I had no good response.

Partially, my lack of a comeback relates to the fact that it's difficult to convince HS students to give their all for a standardized test. We bribe them with prizes rewarded for appearing to do well, but as I review last year's scores yet again, I don't feel it's helping. One of my most reliable writers did not score so hot last year--does that mean he has improved dramatically, or does it mean that he doesn't care about the test?

Maybe this is just a Monday malaise. I'm psyching myself up to psych up my students, to run quickly over a few last things, to really try to prepare and encourage them for the tests. Hopefully, they'll give it their best shot.

No comments: