Why must we adults take the simplest things and make them ever so daunting? This week all the school children in Ohio took the Achievement Test. You say no big deal, however it is such a poor evaluating tool. Now, if you know me you know I'm not some super political person but the idea that this test is simply to please the all mighty politicians is clear! Take a step back with me!
When you were in 6th grade, what was your daily routine like? Do you remember your math teacher? How about your best friend? Remember those silly notes "Do you like me? Circle yes or no". Did you know what surface area was? How about volume? Shut, can you name the formulas today?
Now, lets compare your memories to the lives of some of my children. I have 2 in foster care, at least a dozen living in condemned houses, 40% of them receive free or reduced lunch (meaning their parents don't make an average income to support them), three of them don't even speak English as their first language, and seven have parents who don't even know English. These issues don't even begin to address emotional and physical issues. So to help them out we adults decide that providing them with two to four straight days of 2 1/2 hour testing is a great idea. The test covers everything they were to learn in this grade level, however the year isn't over. The test is written in such a way that not only requires them to know the content but to be able to apply, sort, and utilize various steps after choosing the proper procedure. Last year one of the math questions was as follows: (note this was not a multiple choice question)
Sara and Bob want to sell popcorn for a fundraiser.
Sara wants to sell small bags of popcorn.
Bob wants to use large bags of popcorn.
Sara will charge $1.00 for her small bag of popcorn. The small bag is 2 x 4 x 6.
The large bag of popcorn is 3x5x7. How much should Bob sell it for.
Some of you math whizzes might have figured this out right away. But my babies had to know that they needed to find the volume of each bag and then create a proportion to compare volumes to the cost in order to get the correct answer. Not only did we expect them to know what to do but then also do the calculations correctly. All this from kids who still to this day write notes about who loves who and if this boy likes this girl.
The test are required, and they do serve a purpose, so we'll keep giving them. Just remember the complexity when you begin to criticize schools for not being highly qualified. There are so many unmeasurable factors. We, both teachers and students, work hard, failing is not something we strive to do!