Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's that time again...

Our state assessment team met recently to discuss the layout of how we will test our students in grades seven, eight and eleven.  Every year we have the discussion of how we can make this less intrusive on our classes.  There are two typical options:

1. Cram all the tests in and lose less instructional time, which would decrease our test scores.

2. We spread them out and allow our students the best possible chance to do well.

This has been on my mind the last few years.  Think about how often we test our students and how much time we spend away from teaching and learning.  I began to add up the results and have posted them below.

NWEA Testing - Grades 7-10

  • This takes approximately 4 weeks to complete all grades in the fall and spring. (Students miss 3-4 hours of instruction time )

NDSA Testing - Grades 7,8, and 11 
  • This takes approximately 2 weeks to complete all grades. (Students miss close to 9 total hours of instruction time)
PLAN Testing - Grade 10 
  • This takes approximately 3 hours to complete. 
ACT Testing - Grade 11
  • This takes approximately 4 hours to complete. 
ASVAB - Grade 10
  • This takes approximately 3 hours to complete.  
  • Optional for students.  This takes approximately 3 hours to complete. 
PSAT - Grade 11
  • Optional for students.  This takes approximately 3 hours to complete. 
If you tally the results it adds up to five days of testing total for all grades.  This does not include adjusting the schedule and missing other classes in the process.  We devote close to 7 weeks of testing in our schedule, when you add up the 6 weeks for NDSA, NWEA and the single day tests like the ACT.  I want to make it clear that not all of our students are testing the entire seven weeks or even the 5 days of total testing.  This is just a broad look at it all.  

We are mandated to test, but I really hope that we begin to look at the amount of time that we test students and the impact it has on teaching and learning.  Teachers could be closing learning gaps with the time it takes to test.  So its that time of the year again and we will continue to do what we've always done and test.  I have high hopes with the coming changes of re-authorization.  There are some positive things developing in this article. 

How do you balance testing in your schools?

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