If it were up to me, and it’s clearly not, there would be no tests in school. There are many ways to assess our children, but “the powers that be” decided that we should sit children down with their bright yellow, no. 2 pencils, a scantron and a multiple choice booklet and let that be the determination as to whether they are learning something or not. To the average person, that sounds like what has taken place in schools for years. Well, that doesn’t mean it’s right. Try doing that as a Special Education student and it brings along a heck of a lot more anxiety and stress on these young people.
Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students are given state tests and high schoolers are given Regents exams. So, to prepare our students for these tests, we give them, yes, that’s right, practice tests! So, along with their regular quizzes, tests and quarterly benchmark exams, they have three practice tests before the real thing. Now, most of my special ed students get double time on tests. So, if the average student gets half the day to do a test, it takes my students all day to do it. That means, that they are not only exhausted from testing all day, but they’re missing their classes during their three days of testing, putting them further and further behind.
Then there are the benchmark tests. Every quarter, students are assessed on what they’ve learned so far for the year. Well, my students need twice as long to take the tests and the tests are typically 2 days long. That means, that in their 5 core subjects, they have 5 tests that will take them 4 days each.
Now lets talk about the high school kids. There used to be RCT exams (Regents Competency Tests) that students could take, so that if they didn’t pass the regents exam, they could still get a local diploma if they pass the RCT. Well, they are phasing out the local diploma, so that is no longer an option. The only option is to pass the test. If they don’t pass the test, they don’t graduate. What about my students, that, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to pass a regents exam? They have some safety nets in place where, as long as they pass certain tests, they can still graduate. Well, that’s still not cool.
I just fear that one of these days I’m going to have to have a conversation with a parent about why their child isn’t going to graduate from high school because they can’t pass a test! Did they pass all of their classes? Yes! Did they try their best? Yes! Does it matter? Apparently not to the state.
Good luck to my middle schoolers who are in their second week of their third practice state tests before the real thing in three weeks.
Here is an article from our local paper. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/could_you_pass_the_new_fifth-g_1.html#incart_river
Photo credit: edbasic.com