Anyone else not opposed to standardized testing?

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Posted 2/8/2013 by anmore in NSBR Board
 

anmore
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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:15:08 AM
Parents are in an uproar in our district and plan on opting out their kids. Problem with that, we lose funding, and the teachers still have to administer a different test (SLO's). I have no issue with testing. What am I missing? FTR; I have two who are juniors and one in 1st grade.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:23:25 AM
I don't have anything against testing per say, but I don't like that the only thing they teach it what is on the test. There doesn't seem to be a lot of learning to think through things and figure them out. Just teach them how to do it for the test and that is good enough.

I spend a lot of time at home with my kids (4th and 1st grade) on critical thinking skills. It worries me that they aren't learning the basics before something new is being thrown at them.


Heather, wife to Jeremy and mommy to Cody (10), Cooper (8), Colton (5), and Corbin (3).





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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:27:43 AM
The only way change will happen is parents opting their kids out of testing so I say good for them!

We all know one test doesn't measure the whole kid. It's a waste of time and schools who do poorly shouldn't be getting money to do better on tests --a little backwards don't you think?

You want to fund schools based on test scores? Reward the ones who do a good job.

Either way, it's a bad way to do things (because how kids score this year won't matter to me as a teacher because they're not with me next year) but--their report cards--a year long snapshot will help me.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:29:36 AM
I'm not opposed to standardized testing. I'm opposed to the pressure that is put on schools--and in turn, the kids--when it comes to the results.



Peabay
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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:30:12 AM
I don't really care about it. I don't love the whole "teaching to the test" phenomenon, but I have too many other things to worry about in my life. I don't really care that much about the standardized testing.



little mama
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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:31:59 AM
I'm not opposed to standardized testing, what I am opposed to is teaching to the test.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:40:17 AM
Not all standardized tests are created equal in my mind. Now that my kid is in high school, I love standardized tests because they are a better way to really compare his abilities with other students across the nation. There is also a "payback" for standardized tests at this level ... scholarships for performance on the PSAT/SAT/ACT and college credit for good scores on AP tests.

When my sons were younger, I wasn't as crazy about them. My oldest stressed out over tests or would hurry through them. I didn't feel like his results were a good indicator of his abilities.

My youngest son went to a magnet school with a Junior Years International Baccalaureate program. The state-mandated tests covered things these kids were never taught or, especially in math, things they had learned years before. Those tests were not the best indicator of ability either. When my son was in eighth grade, he had a painful broken arm, and was a bit behind in his classes from the time he missed for surgery and doctors' appointments. I opted him out of the state testing so he wouldn't have to spend hours filling in bubbles and so he could catch up. I never heard the end of it!

I understand the opposition to testing, but I believe that they can provide valuable information to parents and educators. Of course, tests should only be a part of the picture when determining an educational path for a child.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:42:23 AM
I have no problem with standardized tests as ONE MEASURE of learning (and therefore, effectiveness of teaching); however, I do NOT believe funding of education should be tied in any way to performance on those tests.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:52:28 AM
I don't mind the testing. What I mind is thw 3 weeks before the test that the teachers spend preparing for the test and the increased pressure that is put on the kids during testing days.

Many e-mails are sent to the parents reminding them that the students need to be well rested, have a healthy breakfast and lunch, and giving snacks during the testing breaks so the students can operate at their peak performance.

Why isn't this as important the other days of thes school year?

I have an 8th grader who is taking two high school level classes and there was no e-mail sent out during their semester final times. These were tests that affect her final grades for the classes and will show up on her high school transcript.

Emily

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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:55:50 AM
Meh. My kids have no trouble with them and I really don't see them putting in extra prep just for the test. The SOL review packets that come home seem to be a fairly good overview of the subject matter, so teaching to that isn't a problem IMHO.

I remember taking standardized tests in first grade in 1973. They'll probably always be around in some shape or form. <shrug>





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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:58:33 AM

I have no problem with standardized tests as ONE MEASURE of learning (and therefore, effectiveness of teaching); however, I do NOT believe funding of education should be tied in any way to performance on those tests.


That. I'm not opposed to testing for my own kids. Heck, they help the school's scores and are good test-takers.

On the flip side, as an educator, I've had to spend hours administering state tests to students with disabilities. If they didn't have disabilities, they'd be able to perform on the tests. But I'm forced to make them endure the experience. I've had to try to console too many crying children. It may sound dramatic, but I'm not exaggerating in the least. That's the side of standardized testing that our politicians just don't understand and probably don't want to.


Jill

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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:05:46 AM
I don't mind the testing. We had the testing when I was a kid, so it's been around for a while.

I don't think the schools should be funded based on test performance. But that's because I don't like how some teachers spend too much time on preparing kids for the test and don't teach the other important things. Not all teachers do that, just some. I don't think they want too, but feel pressured to. Teachers can only do so much, they can't follow the kids home and make sure they do their homework, etc. That's the parents job.


angievp
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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:10:06 AM
I'm not. I think parents who opt out are doing a disservice to their children. SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, tests to be admitted to the Bar, MCAT, all are standardized tests. Kids need to be comfortable around standardized tests.


MergeLeft
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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:20:43 AM
Taking tests for diagnostic purposes, fine. Spending countless days prepping only for tests, tying school funding and teacher pay to test results, and considering the test as the only real measure of student achievement, I disagree with. Making eight, nine and ten year olds sit for a four-hour test two days in a row, I disagree with.

I'd opt my kids out too if I didn't run the risk of having them kicked out of their magnet schools for doing so.



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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:25:26 AM

I would be happier if they would just test the kids and find out where they are. The pressure to do well is unbelievable. In 3rd grade at the beginning of the semester of their big test, I talked to Alison's teacher who told me that she liked to take a no-pressure approach. Imagine my surprise when Alison started telling me that she was really nervous because the test results go on her permanent record. Why a 3rd grader need to know about a permanent record? Her teacher did try to keep the pressure out of the classroom, but the principal gathered all the kids in the cafeteria and scared them.

I don't think this kind of pressure is necessary or appropriate. Alison is a good student and was going to do well with or without the principal's pressure. However, instead of being well-rested and relaxed for the test, she couldn't sleep the night before.


-Jennifer


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Posted: 2/8/2013 1:15:29 PM
When I was a kid i viewed standardized tests sort of like a spelling bee - unrelated to your grade, but a chance to show off what you know. I advise my kids to approach them the same way. With this outlook they are nothing worry about.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 1:27:10 PM
Standardized tests were a breeze for my daughter, but not so much for my sons. Both have learning disabilities. The school put them in a class that only taught the test. More emphasis was put on this class and the test than on there grades in other classes, which were suffering.




Rhonda

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Posted: 2/8/2013 1:38:04 PM

I'm not opposed to standardized testing. I'm opposed to the pressure that is put on schools--and in turn, the kids--when it comes to the results.


That times a million. Here in TX the tests have completely changed the way some schools are run and how students are taught. They are now taught to be great test takers, not to be critical thinkers or problem solvers.

/tinyrant



hop2
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Posted: 2/8/2013 1:43:13 PM
I am not necessarily opposed to standardized testing per se, but in how it is often used. I object to standardized testing being the only thing teacher teach to. I object to standardized testing being the main gauge by which to determine a teachers value.

When i was in school (long long ago ) we had standardized tests and I do not remember them ever being the end all and be all of anything, ever. We learned whatever was on the curriculum and the test was a blip on the day we had it that's all. The only time I ever remember any tests mentioned or test prep happening was in high school for the regents exams. The teachers would begin to mention in June subject the thought might be on the regents.

My kids have weeks (2-2 1/2 weeks ) of practice tests and all the content of the entire year is geared towards 'passing the test' that is not necessary. Also one test on one day is not a whole cumulation of the teachers value in the classroom or the students effort and mastering of skills. It is just a tiny piece not the whole pie though many places are trying to use it as such. The worst scenario is where they give these tests twice and value the teachers on the % of improvement of their students. Especially when the tests are basic and there are many kids who score %100 the first time where does the teacher go from there to improve her scores?

While they used to be a tiny piece in the puzzle of a child's education they have become entirely too prevalent and too much time is given over to getting the very last child in the class up to the test standards and forgetting about teaching and learning for it's own sake.

I do not like how standardized tests have come to be used over the last decade.

writermom1
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Posted: 2/8/2013 1:53:49 PM
Not opposed.


When people wax rhapsodic about "the good old days" of education I don't know what they are talking about.

DH and I BOTH graduated with good grades from highly regarded school districts. I am an algebraic idiot (basically was allowed to graduate without learning it) and DH cannot spell. At all. Again, he was just promoted on through because, apparently, no one had time for that.

So when people get all upset about "Testing! It's the Devil!" I want to remind them that it is the necessary evil after years and years of social promotion and districts being allowed to set their own standards - or not.




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Posted: 2/8/2013 2:02:28 PM
I am EXTREMELY opposed to the way that standardized testing has taken over so much of our educational system. It is WRONG that testing results have so much impact on funding. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So much that affects education is NOT even taking place in the schools -- it's not up to the teachers if students come to school without being prepared to learn, without proper food, rest, parental influence, preparation. I've posted about this before, but I had a friend who left our field to become a teacher. She lasted a single school year -- she was so upset about what she witnessed -- things like kindergartners who didn't know how to hold a book. Didn't know that you turn the pages, etc.

I'm disgusted by the whole thing, and testing is just one piece of it.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 2:10:54 PM
I am not opposed to standardized testing and in Ohio, they have been required for many years now.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 2:37:01 PM
I am not opposed to standardized testing. I think they help to uncover problems in a school, or the curriculum, or to monitor the learning of an individual student. Achievement tests should be easy for the majority of students. As parents, we should analyze the types of questions that our child missed, and work with him/her to make sure they have the skills that they should have been taught. The test may uncover an undiagnosed learning issue, or it may mean that there was general confusion about a certain type of question. Or, it may show you that you need to provide a more challenging learning environment for your child, especially if they are getting 99% percentile in all subjects.

I am opposed to spending weeks beforehand to "teach to the test" and prep the kids. Teachers should just focus on what they should be teaching, and trust that the skills their students learn will be reflected in the test. I am extremely opposed to the lack of teaching that happens AFTER the test. Where I live, there are teachers who actually stop teaching, because there's only about 4 weeks of school left, and textbooks are returned to storage at the beginning of May. So, the teachers that DO teach are left to entertain the kids for 2 weeks without any textbooks.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 3:14:56 PM
I'm not opposed to standardized testing, heck we even had it back in the 70's when I went to school. Back then though it wasn't anything like it is today. It was a test and you took it. Done. No time was spent prepping for the test in the classroom, and I'm almost positive school funding wasn't based on test scores back then.

What I am very much opposed to is how it's done currently.Teaching to the test only instead of teaching critical thinking skills. I very much oppose funding schools based on test scores.

We are graduating seniors who can't spell, who can't think critically, who can't solve problems because so much time is spent teaching to the test. I believe it's caused schools to drop art, music and P.E. because there isn't time any more to teach those classes. In the end it's the students who lose and our society.

Debbie in MD.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 3:15:09 PM

I'm not opposed to standardized testing. I'm opposed to the pressure that is put on schools--and in turn, the kids--when it comes to the results.


This!! They are supposed to gauge what the child knows not be the end all and be all of what is taught. And certainly should not be the basis for school funding.




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Posted: 2/8/2013 3:16:48 PM
I fully support standardized testing.

However, since scores are highly correlated with income (& conversely % on free/reduced lunch), I totally oppose giving high-scoring schools extra funding or resources as a "reward".

As if that will be an incentive to low scoring (i.e., low income) schools to just "try harder" & they too can get top scores .

Meanwhile, higher scoring schools (i.e., higher income) get extra computers or bonus cash - when these kids come from homes with multiple computers, museum menberships, music lessons & summer engineering camps.

Now, it's ridiculous when overall school rating is based heavily on "improvement". So low income school going from 50% to 55% passing jump from a D to an A, and top schools going from 98.5% to 98% passing drop from an A to a B.

Or based on % taking SAT/AP, which penalizes struggling schools that encourage kids to stretch & see if there's an aptitude that hasn't been nourished. You know from exposure to years of camps/museums/computer programs/books...

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Posted: 2/8/2013 3:47:51 PM

I'm not opposed to standardized testing, what I am opposed to is teaching to the test.



Hopefully you won't be putting your kids in AP classes, because that is exactly what they do. And for some reason, parents don't ever seem to object to THAT kind of teaching to the test.

I always wonder about that.

No, I don't have a problem with standardized testing. We've been doing it for years and years and years. I took them when I was in elementary/8th grade and I'm over 50.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 3:55:52 PM
Not opposed at all.



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Posted: 2/8/2013 4:48:20 PM

I have no problem with standardized tests as ONE MEASURE of learning (and therefore, effectiveness of teaching); however, I do NOT believe funding of education should be tied in any way to performance on those tests.


Hear, hear.

Standardized tests can be one useful tool in a toolbox. Using them as the ONLY (or primary) tool, however, invites a situation like the blind men and the elephant.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 4:50:16 PM
My daughter had four days of standardized tests in school last year. The library at her school was closed for about a week each time. It really adds up. Then, our district uses the test scores for things they are not designed to do. For example, the test scores are used to screen kids for gifted learning, even though the designers of the test that is used for that say that the test is not designed to screen kids for gifted learning.

Also, whether or not teachers teach to the tests, schools have a lot of incentive to have high test scores, which does not translate necessarily into good things for students. For example, when one of my kids tested into a self-contained gifted school, the administrators at her school tried to talk us out of sending her. I found out that the parents of other kids in her position were also asked not to move their kids. Why? Because the school test scores are improved when the gifted kids are there and go down when they leave.

My district right now has a high-profile school opting out of that particular standardized test, and a lot of parents and teachers at other schools that support the opt-out. As do I.

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Posted: 2/8/2013 10:26:30 PM
I think that as a method if evaluating learning they are garbage and completely useless.

That said, I Don't care enough about them to fight it. Our district, IMO, does a phenomenal job and does not teach to the test, so I might feel differently if that were the case.


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Posted: 2/8/2013 11:34:45 PM
As a homeschooler who had to have our kids tested every year to prove I was actually teaching them at least the basics, I see no reason for objection.

I've personally seen too many public schooled kids who can't read on grade level or do basic math. Why shouldn't the public schools have to meet the same standards they require of homeschoolers?



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Posted: 2/9/2013 10:50:11 AM
" SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, tests to be admitted to the Bar, MCAT"

Yes kids may need to take these one day---but those are choices--none of the tests listed above are mandatory and none of the above tests take 2 weeks to administer...


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Posted: 2/9/2013 11:08:09 AM
I wonder how often teachers are stunned by test results. I mean does the really stupid kid score perfectly and does the really brilliant kid fail?

Sometimes a smart kid does worse than expected, but I would imagine that a teacher can tell who knows stuff and who doesn't.

That said, I have no opposition to standardized testing as long as the teacher is not expect to "teach to the test."

It is a generally good indicator of what the students know. Is it everything? Of course not, and it's idiotic to suggest it.


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angievp
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Posted: 2/9/2013 11:18:21 AM

Yes kids may need to take these one day---but those are choices--none of the tests listed above are mandatory and none of the above tests take 2 weeks to administer...


There are standardized tests for almost everything: driver's license test: that's standardized. Real estate? Notary public? Hairstylist? if you need a license for it, I bet you the person has to take a standardized test. So, I think if you want to do anything in your life (including driving a car) other than, "would you like fries with that?", you are going to have to take a standardized test.

So, no, I don't think anyone in this society can escape the thorny standardized test.

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Posted: 2/9/2013 11:40:13 AM
I am not against standardized tests. Put me in the camp of being against teaching to the test and tying funding to tests.

A district that has 70% of students on free/reduced lunch will have lower scores than a community with a median income of $70,000.
That district needs more state or federal funding than the affluent district which would have a higher tax base. The great teachers tend to have to go to the better paying, affluent districts for better pay and benefits.







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Posted: 2/9/2013 11:41:28 AM
I never was until last year. Of 4 kids, was never bothered by these tests, until last year with my youngest. The school and teachers telling he kids, "you have to score at least x, etc" - my 8 year old was so nervous she wouldn't eat or sleep and do worried she wouldn't hit her goal and "fail". I did everything I could to take the pressure off, to explain to do her best and that the test is there to help us figure out what she still needs to learn. Poor kid. This year she is nervous but seems to be getting less pressure from this teacher, but if I see her anxiety building I may have to intercede.


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Posted: 2/9/2013 11:54:24 AM
As someone else said, it's one tool in the toolbox. I hope that I'm giving my students problems solving skills and test taking strategies that will apply to life.

I disagree with how the test scores are used. There are many things that I dislike about this. Most have been mentioned.

There are too many financial decisions based on what the performance of little kids. Does an 8 year old really understand school funding? Does an 8 year old really care if my pay is affected by his/her performance?

In our state, all the pressure is put on third graders passing a test. You need to pass or you won't go onto 4th. So they pass, but now their scores need to increase the next year. Technically, they should increase. There are too many factors that can cause the score to not increase.

Soon we'll be taking the state tests on the computer. That alone is a challenge if you are familiar with the networks in schools.

In theory it sounds ok because society is moving that direction, but until my students are using the computer for test practice etc. on a regular basis then there will be a learning curve.

Perhaps the tests will allow them to highlight key words and mark up the text like we do with paper and pencil, but until this is done daily then scores will be affected.

I know levies aren't passing in our area and we are heading towards some major cuts. This will affect things as well.

Someone else asked if teachers are really stunned by the results? Very seldom. To be honest I can't recall a time that I really was surprised. We can level are students quite accurately and can predict where their scores may fall.




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Posted: 2/9/2013 3:47:22 PM

There are standardized tests for almost everything: driver's license test: that's standardized. Real estate? Notary public? Hairstylist? if you need a license for it, I bet you the person has to take a standardized test. So, I think if you want to do anything in your life (including driving a car) other than, "would you like fries with that?", you are going to have to take a standardized test.

While it is true that we all face standardized tests at some point, I can't think of very many that are "one shot" deals as most school standardized tests are. Nor are they given automatically to someone who is incapable of passing the test regardless of how much they try.

My "slow learners" with IQs in the mid-70s were required to answer the very same questions in science, reading, and writing that my gifted students were expected to answer. In math, there was some differentiation between regular ed and gifted b/c they gifted/accelerated math students were tested on the 6th grade math curriculum. However, it was still the same test that was given to the actual 6th graders who were slow learners.

My daughter took the SAT four times before she got the score she wanted. If you flunk the driver's license test, you just study some more and go take it again. I've known many people who have taken the bar exam multiple times, and if you fail the CPA exam, you at least get credit for the portions you did pass and only retake those that you didn't.

Standardized testing in schools works much differently. In VA, if a child fails an SOL, they are literally "sol". They are stuck with that score. I believe there are some instances where you can retest a child, but the original score is what gets reported to the government, no matter how much better the child does the second time around.

Those other standardized tests generally have a specific purpose in that they test specific skills that are required to do something that you want to do. Someone who is not a good student is not going to be forced to take the SAT or ACT unless it is required by their post-secondary school of choice. (There are more and more schools that do not require test scores at all.) If I have never studied law or medicine, I am not required to take the bar exam or the medical licensing exam. If I am not able to pass the driver's license exam, then I should NOT be getting a license because it is an indication of my ability to follow the rules of the road. And I am free to study some more to try to pass it on a second, third, fourth try or more.

School testing, on the other hand, has no practical application in a student's life. It measures how the child performed on one particular day. It isn't used to provide remediation. By the time we test kids at the end of the year, there is no time to remediate. Summer school, you say? Sounds like a good idea, but unless the test breaks down exactly what skills need to be remediated, most kids are just thrown into a room together for a month of review of the previous year's math curriculum or a review of reading/writing skills from that year.

Our math test in 5th grade asked a total of 50 questions on 22 standards. Some of those standards included multiple substandards. In reality, each "skill" only really gets one question, maybe two, on the test. If a child answers one correctly, does he really know that skill or was it a guess? If he answered incorrectly, does he not know it or did he just read the problem incorrectly? Either way, this kind of test is absolutely useless for remediation purposes b/c it just doesn't give the teacher enough information.

The tests are somewhat useful to the school district in that it gives a "snapshot" of how well the curriculum was taught, but it really does nothing to measure progress. This year's 3rd graders are compared to last year's 3rd graders. They are two completely different sets of kids, and believe me, any teacher can tell you that there are "good" classes that are on the ball, motivated, and relatively easy to teach and "not-so-good classes" that are not. In addition, the tests are frequently "updated" so that one class gets an "easy" test that covers types of questions that teachers are familiar with and have been able to prepare students to answer using "strategies", yet next year's class gets a completely different type of test that includes questions with more than one correct answer but the student has to find the "best" answer. Sometimes the technology is changed so that the way a child has to enter the answers is different than it was last year, and when you are talking about elementary age children, this can throw them for a loop to the extent that they just enter anything.

I know everyone abhors "teaching to the test", but when you are working with the novice test-takers in elementary school, you HAVE to prepare them for this type of testing. I didn't like to use much multiple choice testing in my classroom b/c quite honestly, it DOESN'T tell me enough about what a child does or doesn't know (although it would be easier if I did b/c I could have them graded in a much shorter amount of time). If I had not "taught the test", many would not have been prepared for standardized testing, and the lack of familiarity with the format would have led to wrong answers that they might have otherwise answered correctly. So I gave short answer or problems for quizzes where they had to show work, but I gave some multiple choice questions on unit exams that were similar to the types of questions they would see on an SOL. However, I HAD to use county multiple choice quizzes in my last year b/c they were SOL based and they wanted us to practice.
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