As the federal government requires that we give standardized reading and math tests to students from grade three on, our fabulous district has decided we should do the same for kindergarten through second grade. For reading, this is actually no change. We give the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to every child in elementary school twice a year, at least. For math, our district created a standardized assessment for the youngest kids. So we know give a multiple choice and short answer Mathematical Reasoning Assessment (MRA) twice a year.
Recently our first grade team met together with our math coach to look at our results. We had a pretty good discussion about the data, identifying areas in which we need to think about our instruction and analyzing questions we thought they should know but didn't. Sometimes it's simply a matter of language (when it asks which fraction is shaded, it helps if our kids know the word shaded).
Several folks brought up the idea that our students, as first graders, don't do a lot of paper and pencil tasks and so had trouble with this. The reaction, immediately, was that we need to do more paper and pencil tasks.
I wanted to cry. Why isn't the reaction that we should work for an assessment that better fits our kids' needs. Why should they change to meet the assessment?