Standardized testing is a necessary evil, at least for now. Yes, I think it puts too much pressure on children and teachers. Yes, I think it shifts priorities. However, it is a way to compare schools and prove it is possible to close the achievement gap between low and high income communities.
In two years, it will change completely, and while I have expressed my doubts about requiring schools to give computer-based tests, I’m hopeful the adoption of the National Standards will be a change for the better. Word on the street, teaching will slow down, be more conceptual, an improvement. My fingers are crossed.
Today my students finished their last STAR test in our two years together. It was a joyous event. After STAR testing, the climate at school shifts. Yes, we still learn, but now all the core standards have been taught for the year and I can weave everything together into units on history and art and…
I don’t know if it is the knowledge that I now have five weeks to let inquiry drive instruction or all the yoga or what, but I felt incredibly calm and unaffected by post-test meltdowns and a chaotic room full of students working on large trifold posters for their culminating elementary school project. Construction paper was everywhere. The threat of glitter explosions loomed in the air. Dozens of kids wanted my help simultaneously. “Mrs. M!” “Mrs. M!” “Just one second.”
Still, I was at peace, with a smile on my face. If only I could find this space every day. I suppose the offer of fruit snacks and Capri Suns to put the room back in order didn’t hurt either.