State testing is over! My 6th graders took a Math and Language Arts test and my 8th graders took a Math, Language Arts, and Science test. The Science test, the subject that I teach, has questions on Earth, Physical and Life Science. Our curriculum, for better or for worse, includes Physical and Environmental Science in 6th grade, Earth Science in 7th grade, and Life Science in 8th grade. One could say that the test is a bit unfair because kids are asked to remember content they learned a year or two earlier. I don’t think so. I could actually see what students remembered or took away from their time in 6th and 7th grade Science. If the test is not high stakes then I can make some use of the data. It is, after all, data so can be used. Should it be used to determine how much money I make or whether I’m doing my job well? No. Should it determine whether my 8th graders are ready to go to high school? No. A standardized test score should just be used as one measure to see how well kids can take a test. In order to see what my kids know about the Science we learned this year, look at their work.
I wrote before about how I only spend a few periods helping kids prepare for their Science test. I spent about the same amount of time this year helping them get ready. I think it’s fair to spend only a few periods preparing for a two to three hour test that has little to do with all that has been going on in my classroom this year (or what has been going on since they were in 6th grade).
Either way we are now free. Free again to work on projects and labs. Free again to go outdoors and do real Science. As a matter of fact this week I’ll be going to Camp David, Jr. on gorgeous Lake Crescent with our entire 8th grade class for a week-long outdoor education experience we call Odyssey. There isn’t much if any cell reception there and no wifi (it’s an unconnected field trip) so I’ll be unable to check Twitter, Facebook or my RSS feeds! I’ll be disconnected all week, even away from my family, but it’s a great experience for us teachers as well as for the kids.
I hope your testing is over and that you and your students are free to enjoy the rest of your school year.