District and state mandated testing serves a purpose of Data collection to measure student achievement and growth. However, 27 days of testing throughout the year seems ludicrous. It feels a little disheartening being in a position where there isn't much I can do about the quantity of tests, except to trust that my students are confident in the skills being assessed and how to follow the directions to take the test. This year, the 27 days of assessment does not include the time spent preparing students on the "how to" of test taking. My students take their first (of many...) content based state mandated standardized tests in 3rd grade and much of the preparation is simply about how to be successful with the directions and procedure of taking the test.
This past week, my 3rd grades took a state mandated reading test, which, if a student doesn't pass this test the student must be retained in 3rd grade. No pressure, right? There was a huge elephant in the classroom all week about the "consequences" that go along with this test. We did not discuss the retention consequence in my classroom for a number of reasons, but I disagree with the scare tactics of this kind of testing.
So, when we're not testing students to threaten retention, the assessments are justified as Data collection to measure growth. Oh data/Data, you are double-edged sword when it comes to the standardized test. On one hand, I have no choice but to accept the Data because the tests are normed and this is necessary Data I must have for purposes of my state's new teacher evaluation system (that's a whole other post...). On the other hand, the consistent interruption of instruction to collect Data seems to defeat the purpose-- instruction.
Assessment absolutely has its purpose, but the purpose needs to be student focused. Matt at From the Desk of Mr. Foteah writes concisely and eloquently about data and Data:
The humanity of our profession is lost when students are tested simply to collect numbers, numbers then used to bucket and label student achievement and potential, or used to measure teacher effectiveness (I argue this is also known as "how well students can take the test."). I'm tired of testing, testing, testing for the sake of Data, and tired of having to tell my students that this is just the way it is and what they have to do.
Sadly, teacher's perspectives on the subject of standardized testing often falls on deaf ears with the powers that be. Students and their parents are overwhelmed with the amount of standardized testing and theirs are the voices that also need to be heard.
What are your views of standardized testing, "data-driven instruction," and Data collecting? When is enough, enough?