Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"I don't give big tests."

On January 15th, Mark Barnes wrote an article on teachers and "What if" they said NO to testing. Reading this reminded me what I've told our elementary administration a few times this semester.

"I don't give big tests. I only give them after every unit."

the grades I posted include all but the "Final Test"
I still cringe when I remind them and other teachers about this because I would like to move beyond giving paper tests completely. I believe PBL, mobile learning tools, and other strategies of the like would allow my students to go beyond the standardized expectations. Why do I believe this? Because I've seen and read about those who have done it. Unsurprisingly, my students without this knowledge agree. (Side note: I was chosen to read a pre-publication of Barnes' Assessment 3.0, which will come out in February. If you haven't ordered it, you should.)


On our quarterly report cards we have four slots encompassing the ELLs in their Daily Average, Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing, and lastly...Test Score (see above). An educator from America (as I claim to be though I intend to someday look into my Scottish ancestry), would probably wonder what in the world a school would be wanting parents to do with that. It's not even a unit test score. It's for the Midterm Test and the Final Test. Interestingly enough, our local education bureau said to do away with them as of last year because some parents called and complained about the work load and stress the students were experiencing. Sadly, the tests are back again this year. Sometimes they may just have a different name though it's the same paper test. The students know it too.

In respect to culture, Chinese parents find tests and scores ├╝ber-important, I understand that. But my fifth graders don't agree. Irony? I think not while I also believe my students are just like some in the US who want to learn what is relevant for their futures and use modern tools to do so. Therefore, I'm not surprised when a student will do something else simultaneously in class while learning. As of reading The Element recently, I've also started encouraging my students to go deeper with their interests.

Now what I've written here should be understood as not grumbling about my school or the Chinese education system. The point is this. I've been told there is Power in One who stands up for what is right. This is usually not the case for teachers at our school, but the test score column is thankfully one area where the administration has not forced me to change. I know I have full support from many while there is a small group of teachers who look down on me. I'm not entirely fond of that, but at least I believe what I am doing is right in guiding my students as they become more #futureready.

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