Over the past couple of days, I have defined standardized tests. I have also listed the factors that are argued for and against standardized testing. I am now a kindergarten teacher and I do not have to deal with standardized testing on the same level as third through eighth grades. My class participates in Dibels testing, which is individually given more often in shorter intervals. However, I taught eighth grade for four years and participated in standardized testing each year.
I feel that standardized testing in my district affects the students’ individual academics very little. The test results are not used in any form of grading or retention purposes. The results are sometimes used to determine which students are in need of tutoring or extra services. However, in most cases the teacher’s opinion and the student’s class performance are also taken into consideration.
When it comes to standardized testing in my area, I think of the test evaluating the teacher rather than the students. Teachers are placed under pressure for their students to perform well. In addition to achievement, teachers are judged based on TVASS, the amount of academic growth a student makes in a year.
The problem with TVASS is the limited amount of growth high achieving students can make. Like they say, “if you are at the top there is only one way you can go- down”. Therefore, if you teach a grade level above a very strong teacher, your students are closer to the top than the bottom and you may not show a lot of growth. If you follow a weak teacher, the students may be at a lower level when they come to your class. You can show more growth in this group of students because they have further to go to the top.
Teachers that care about their job, good teachers, get worked-up over test scores because they care. Teachers that do not place great value in teaching often do not ‘sweat’ over the test. Therefore, the teachers that need to be worrying are not and the ones that are doing a good job are worrying.
Come back tomorrow for more dicussion!