Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yesterday started MEAP's, Michigan's high stakes assessment. It is liken to 5 days of torture. Even good students tire of filling in bubbles and formulating written responses by the end of the testing cycle. For students who struggle with school work, these tests are frustrating and overwhelming. For students who have ADD or ADHD, or a myriad of other disabilities which impact their ability to focus and sustain focus for extended periods of time, these long stretches of testing are a complete waste of time.

Most students attack the tests with an honest intention of doing well, at least the first test, the first day. But as test after test is presented, and the minutes drag into hours, the testing goes on and on and on, they start filling in bubbles, just wanting to be done.

Once one student finishes, the pressure to be done closes in, and they all want to be done. If a teacher offers some reward time - a movie, free time, etc...- when all students are done, suddenly the pressure intensifies even more. Even the most dedicated student feels the stares and the need to be finished, and begins to rush to meet the expectations.

I am all for teacher accountability for what we teach. I am all for holding me accountable for doing everything humanly possible to see that my students learn and progress. But a test like this does little to measure that accurately.

Some students fill in bubbles at random, creating a design. Others do the ABCD method. Others just do it as quickly as possible. No matter how much we try to impress upon them the importance of doing their best, they are certain their best isn't good enough anyway, so why bother.

Some students are sick; others had a terrible start to their morning at home. Others have a family member they are worried about. But this test is not what is on the forefront of their mind today.

I just see it all as a waste of instructional time and money.

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