Jennifer Kadar created a Testing Time Linky Party at her blog, Empowering Little Learners. Go to http://empoweringlittlelearners.blogspot.com/2012/02/high-stakes-testing-link-up.html to find out how other teachers prepare for their state tests.
Here are my responses to Jennifer’s questions...
- Where do you teach? I teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
- What grade do you teach? I teach third grade.
- What tests do you give during this time of year and/or all year? My students take three Language Arts and Math district mandated tests to get ready for the California Standards Test in May.
- Does the test count for anything for you personally? (Is it attached to any of your pay, etc.) My school district has not tied our teaching salary with test scores, but there always seem to be a discussion about it for the future.
- What do you do to prepare for the test? I prepare my students for the state standardized test beginning on the first day of school. I teach the third grade standards and beyond by the end of March. I spend all of April going back to everything we have learned since September and show my students how it is connected. My students have fun reviewing for the Reading and Math tests using my tournaments. They are more than ready to take the California Standards Test in May.
- Can you use the data from the test to help drive your instruction? I use the test data and am very strategic when it comes to helping students during independent time. Whether it is a reading or math standard, I work with each student on an individual basis until that student has a grasp of the concept.
- If you are comfortable, how do you feel about the test? I truly believe that the state tests should never be tied with a teacher’s salary. The results of specific classrooms should not be published for the general public. Two years ago, The Los Angeles Times provided the names of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District and their class’ test results. This is a bad use of test scores and will only lead to an end to teacher collaboration as teachers become worried about their students’ test scores compared to other teachers’ classroom scores.
- How long do the tests take? We spend three days taking the Language Arts portion of the California Standards Test and three days taking the Math section.
- Do you have any tips? I try to make reviewing for the upcoming state tests fun. My best selling Teachers Pay Teachers product is “Test Prep Tournaments For Any Grade and Any Subject.” It has 12 test prep tournaments that I use to review concepts for our three district mandated tests and for the California Standards Test. For example, one month before the state test, I give my students 97 math questions. These questions are provided by the Department of Education and are the released questions of past state tests. I then use a different tournament each day to go over each of the test questions. It usually takes about two weeks to review the questions and answers. My students then retake the 97 questions and they are able to have the higher grade of the two tests recorded in my grade book. Thus, my students really pay attention during the tournaments and are more than ready to take the state test in May. My tournaments and the strategic way I prepare my students for the state tests work. When comparing the 2010-2011 state test results of my students in 2nd grade and how well they did with me in 3rd grade; 3 of my students went up three levels, 7 students went up two levels, and 6 students went up 1 level on our state tests. Seven of my students stayed at the same level (6 students were Advanced and 1 student was Proficient.)
Whether or not you agree with the emphasis of standardized state tests, they are here to stay. For my students, they are able to see for themselves how much they have learned in one year in my class. Go to Jennifer’s Testing Time Linky Party and see other tips to get your students ready for the upcoming state tests.