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One week until our state reading and math tests start. We have had more focus than ever this year on using data to monitor and adjust student instruction, I have had more conversations with staff about how to use data than I thought I would ever find time for, and we are looking at a complete schedule overhaul for next year to get more time to meet individual student needs.
This past week my Pre-AP students asked me why we have to take so many tests. My sarcastic response was, “Because the state hates me.” When I explained to them that the test was about me, not them, about measuring whether I was a good teacher, not what they know, they honestly were speechless (and for this class that is nearly impossible).
We lament all the time that there is too much at stake with these tests, that they are not fair to anyone, and that they can’t possibly measure what is important. All of that is true, but unfortunately, they are the law.
I’m spending this week talking to kids individually about the tests, going over their progress monitoring data with them, gently reminding them to do their best, and reminding them that no matter what the outcome we will not let one number define them.
Then we will lock them in a room for at least 90 minutes a day, read them directions that are impossibly convoluted, and hover over them while they fill in circle after circle and write line after line while we ignore every instinct that screams to help them when we see them start to falter.
One week, so much at stake, and none of it is about measuring what really matters.