Monday, April 19, 2010
My Testing Rant
This is the week I like to call Official State of Ohio Torture Children Week. It is the week, as a special education teacher, that I get to hand out a reading test on the fourth grade level to students who are reading at a 1st-2nd grade level. It will have no less than SIX 3-4 page stories that I will ask them to TRY to read (with 2-3 pages of questions attached) They will stare up at me like I am crazy and they will wait for me to help them as I have been for the past 30 weeks. But I will say - go ahead - read it yourself! I imagine it's similar to being handed a book written in Russian and told you can read it if you just TRY HARDER!
The next day I will give them a math test that includes algebra, reducing fractions, elapsed time, probability and those great story problems. The thing is that some of my students are still struggling with skills in addition and subtraction.
To me this all reinforces their belief that they are stupid and failures before they get out of elementary school. Then we wonder why they drop out.
I am all for schools being accountable, for special ed kids too, because they CAN learn. They have learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol prenatally, or struggle with ADHD every day which interferes with their learning, but states insist that they should take the same tests and progress at the same rate as all the kids who have none of those handicaps.
I will say that the state is beginning to introduce value-added status which measures yearly growth. This is good start - but my students are still expected to PASS the TESTS. If they don't I look bad, which makes my principal look bad, which makes the district look bad, which gives us an inferior rating, which is published in the paper, which causes the citizens not to vote for levies, which puts the district behind - again.
Maybe someday it will all make sense - but it will most likely be long after I am retired. My simple solution is to give them tests on their skill level and the next year show growth.
(There are also science, writing and social studies tests - and we all know you cannot possibly have a successful life without passing a social studies test. )