Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reflection on Testing

Hello Everyone! Still up and feeling lively after tonight's chat on Formal Testing Practices! Wonderful to have so many voices weigh in on this controversial subject! We had special guests! experts! a testing company! and voices from Indonesia, UK, Honduras, Canada, Australia and the US all talking testing and young children. Very exciting!

First a formal Thank You to those who made a special effort to join us tonight:
We knew it would be a hotbed topic tonight, so I made sure to have some additional backup on my end by heading over to my parents homestead and visiting my Dad, a 30+ year educational testing consultant. I must say it was really interesting moderating, listening to my father roam on about testing AND follow the conversation! I guess I am still fired up from all the juggling!

While many oppose standardized testing with young children, it's important to remember its not the test but what you do with the results that hinges its evil-ness factor. Testing companies will tell you these tests are not designed for the purpose of evaluating teachers. It's the politics of the results that corrupts this basic assessment practice.

Personally, I cheer that I no longer have to manually assess if Sue, Taneisha, Johnny, Sara, Paul, Patrice, Jackson, Joey, Kendra, Sam, Bob, Kaley, Ava, Olivia, Daeqwan, Mark, Josie, Rachel, Kenneth and John can all rote count to 100, identify a set of simple shapes and the lower and upper case letters. Certainly when their parents come in for conferencing, that is information I want to share with them. I appreciate that I can outsource that entire process.

But I am not being evaluated as a professional based on the success or failure of my 5 year old student's performance on a letter identification test. Therefore, we have no long hours of test prep, no narrowing of the curriculum to drive up my results, no fatigue. Its fun. Its a computer game we play.

It's funny to me that we have had chat after chat on so many diverse topics, but nothing like the word "test" gets a bee in people's bonnet. It's not the test, but what you do with it. Are you grading and evaluating students on your science test? How is that different than a testing company or a policy maker politicizing the results? High school and Middle school teachers use their own tests to create camps and blocks of children based on their performance on a single evaluation of "the material" all the time.

Maybe that won't be a popular statement, but try to pry the gradebook from many a teachers hand and you will see what I mean! How is it kindergarten teachers evaluate children each day without grades, grade books or in some cases, like our friends in Canada or the UK, no standardized testing for 5 year olds?

Testing isn't teaching- its just one form of assessment. One form of 100 other forms we Kindergarten teachers use each day. One form that slowly morphs and molds into the only form for some uninformed. Anytime you take a one-dimensional look at multi-dimensional people and a three dimensional learning process, there are bound to be problems.

Thanks to all who came out tonight! Thanks for your professionalism, your sharing, your community and your work each day teaching the earth's children.

Amy Archived the chat here and here! It was a double! Be sure to check it out for more tidbits than I can ever include in here! Will have to re read over a few times myself!

Thanks for keeping it real.

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