I’d love to say, “Stuff the test!”, but I can’t.
Show me a teacher that loves standardized testing and I’ll show you a lemon with a state of the art car alarm installed in it. How I wish I could ignore the test and just concentrate on teaching the curriculum. But there are compelling reasons why I can’t and they are as follows:
1. The Unfairness of the Test - In Australia the school year starts in late January and finishes mid-December. The testing occurs early in the year, somewhere between April and May. One would have assumed that since the testing happens e.g. at the beginning of Year 5, that the students will be tested up to the end of grade 4. That isn’t the case. The students are tested on skills up to the end of Grade 5. In other words, there are questions on that test that my students have never encountered and according to the curriculum aren’t expected to know for another 6 months!
2. The Wrong Teacher Looks Bad – So the test occurs early in the year, meaning I am reliant on last years teacher to ensure that skills are learned and standards are maintained. Logically speaking, since it is early in the year, if my students perform poorly it is more a reflection of years past rather than of me. Yet, when are the results sent to the parents? At the end of the year. So parents read the results and automatically heap blame on the classroom teacher. The fact the students sat for their exams early in the year would never occur to them.
3. The Deep End - Up until the 3rd grade there is no real formal testing in the classroom. Nothing that can be compared to the barrage that is standardised testing week anyway. So, it is my duty to prepare my students for what they are about to encounter. This involves, how to mark answers, correct errors, work within time constraints, fill in personal details and how to best go about answering multiple choice questions. To make matters worse, in Australia, the written English essay question (often a persuasive essay), is exactly the same for grades 3, 5, 7 and 9. This means that my grade 3’s have to tackle the very same question with the very same wording as a year 9 student! How can I not prepare them for that?
4. The Consequences - I pride myself on teaching in a specific type of style. This is a style I have developed on my own according to my own unique teaching philosophy. It is a popular style with my students and so far has been endorsed by my parents, and then in turn my Principal. What happens if my students get mediocre scores? What’s the first thing that gets scrutinised? My teaching style. All of a sudden questions are asked. Perhaps he should take a more traditional approach? Perhaps his lessons are a bit light on for substance? He should refer to textbooks more often for his maths. Perhaps he should go back to the sanctioned readers and dispense with his class novels. I can’t afford such negative attention. To lose my style would drain me as a teacher and make fronting up to work so much less pleasurable.
I accept that by teaching to the test for a few months, I make myself a lesser teacher. But do I really have a choice?
Click on the link to read There is Nothing Wrong With Testing Young Children
Click on the link to read The Negative Effects of Standardized Testing are Exaggerated
Click on the link to read Standardized Tests for Teachers!
Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams
Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!
Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching