January – A Month of Testing

Happy January!

Except for it really isn’t all that happy for many students. January appears to be the month of continuous testing – hours of instructional time wasted to exhausting amounts of testing. I will watch as my students become frustrated, have their spirits broken, feel bad about themselves, give up, and even have mini meltdowns at their desks.

As a teacher it is frustrating and heartbreaking.

On top of watching the students being fried by testing, teachers are still expected to maintain the fast paced pacing guide of instruction. We will have additional data demands that will come in the form of analyzing, logging, and meeting taking away from the small amount of time we have to accomplish our “normal” tasks.

The big welcome back from winter break kiddos started with the immediate DRA testing to determine the current reading level of students. These are individual running records and comprehension questions that have to be completed for each student. The required date of completion for these is January 15th. On top of DRA testing, the PALS window has opened and this set of required word recognition and reading testing also has a closing window of January 15th. PALS has several components including a whole group spelling test that must be graded and input into the computer, individual student word recognition in isolation which must be completed on the computer, and individual student running records with comprehension questions that must be input into the computer.

In addition to DRA and PALS, is the AimsWeb testing. This is a math and reading skills based time testing for comprehension and fluency. The interventionist comes in and completes the first round with the students as a whole group. The second round of testing will require students to be pulled out individually and tested.

And wait, that’s not all…

In addition to the DRA, PALS, and AimsWeb testing, the district requires students to complete student growth assessments (SGAs) three times per year. One of those times is in January. So students will spend one whole day completing a two part reading SGA, two afternoons completing a math SGA, and another afternoon completing a science SGA.

Keep in mind that through all of this testing, we are still required to give our end of the unit tests that fall within the month. So, my students will have both a science and social studies end of unit test in January as well. Students are also required to continue completing weekly spelling and vocabulary tests and weekly reading tests that go along with our reading series.

Once the madness of January is over, my ESOL students will begin their WIDA testing in February. This will require them to be pulled out of class over a period of time to complete the testing.

Once all of this is over and we can get back to a normal routine, we will start to look forward to doing it all over again in the spring… just before time for the SOLs (state standardized testing).

The entire educational system saddens me and people wonder why there is such an educational gap… when all you’re doing is testing… who has time for learning?

Whine over… pass the real stuff now.

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