Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Administering a Standardized Test

Today, I administered a standardized test to my students.  I carefully followed the directions posted in the guidelines, then monitored students' work as they labored over the task.  Students asked many questions that I could not answer.  I must say that I felt bad -- I'm their teacher; I'm supposed to answer their questions and guide their work.  Some of my students didn't like the fact that I couldn't answer their questions either.

Also, at times their questions were disheartening.  As they asked, I thought, I can't answer that, but why don't they know it -- we've practiced and reviewed that concept a zillion times.  They're young children though and they are developing their skills at many tasks -- some learning sticks and other learning doesn't.  As I think of myself at that young age, I remember what came easy and what was challenging.  You can't know it all right away, some things do come easy and others are a challenge.

As I watched, I was reminded of the power of a child's mindset.  Those who had an "I can do it" attitude and a "this is important" attitude seemed to work more diligently than those who were unsure of their abilities or the importance of the task.  I really need to let family members know the power of a child's attitude at the start of the year and their role as coach when it comes to that attitude.  I was also reminded that a day can make a difference -- a child who might perform great on one day, might falter on another due to many reasons such as their health, school start, a conflict with a friend, or if they are especially hungry that day (a growth spurt perhaps).

I wish the tests weren't a one-day ordeal.  I wish they were more of a process -- when you're ready, you take the test.  You take the test on a Saturday morning (like SAT) and you take the test you're ready for.  A proctor administers the test, not the teacher you have a working relationship with, and your results are communicated to all who are invested in your growth and development including your family members and teachers.

I administered the test.  I observed, handed out sharpened pencils, and answered the questions that I could. I thought about my teaching -- where I noticed it seemed to be working, and where I'd like to tweak for better effect.  Of course, I want all of my students to be tops on all tests, but that's not a reality as there's always going to be a spectrum of results for any test of competency whether it be a field day race, a standardized test, the school talent show, or a robotics task.  Children come to us with a myriad of skills, talents and passions, and it's our job as teachers to hone the essential skills, recognize the talents, and fuel the passions.

More standardized tests to come.  We've prepped the children, and gave it our best teaching.  Now it's their turn to "show off" all they know, and it's our turn to use the data to better meet students' needs collectively and individually.