Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Test Strategies

To comply with the rules for administering our state standardized tests several weeks ago, I covered up or took down anything academic on our walls. When the students walked in on our first day of testing they remarked on how our room felt like a cave with all the walls covered with brown paper.
The day after our last test I was too lazy to take the paper down. Instead, I gave the students permission to "vandalize" the walls. They were able to write on the paper things they had done to be good test takers. Some of what they wrote were strategies we had taught them; eliminating stupid answers, rereading, underlining, and such. Other thoughts were purely their own.

I took pictures of all of their comments for a couple of reasons. They had a lot of good ideas and strategies that I want to remember to share with future groups. But mostly, their answers are so them. Looking at the pictures will immediately conjure up these students. Even for those comments that aren't signed, the authorship is obvious to me. Their personalities are so clear through these thoughts.

I can't stand the testing and I hate the complex procedures we go through to be sure the tests are secure and fair. I'm far from convinced that these tests are a valid assessment of my students' learning (and I say this as a GT teacher whose students will likely all pass all tests). No one-time, multiple choice test is going to even come close to fully showing a student's abilities, knowledge, and talents.

As a side note, these brown papers were used in another classroom before hanging on my walls and then used to create backgrounds for our wax museum project. We recycle every chance we get!

1 comment:

organized chaos said...

i love it! how fantastic. really, it's almost a text-type, another form of communication through writing.

my first year teaching I had a little boy ask me if the big kids who wrote on the bathroom stalls did it because they didn't have enough writing workshop that day. It made me wonder what would happen if we put up paper in the bathrooms and asked them to write. what would we get?