The 99th Day of School (and 19th Day of Testing)

Today my kids took an assessment called the Ready English Language Arts test. From my understanding, it is meant to mirror the state ELA test, and to provide us with data on how our kids will do on that test in April. If today is any indicator, I'm not excited for April.

But first, let's talk about this test. It was five passages and 35 multiple choice questions. The first passage was an excerpt from The Secret Garden. My kids had NO idea what was going on for portions of the text where the groundskeeper's dialogue was written in an accent. I guess the folks at Curriculum Associates (the publishers of Ready) aren't that interested in choosing passages that might be remotely relevant or accessible to 5th graders in Harlem (in 2018!).

Now as for why I'm anxious about April... My kids struggled through the first two passages. Then seemed to just give up on the final three. On average, it seemed to take them roughly 40 minutes to complete the first two passages. But most of them finished the last three in 30 - 40 minutes.

I think they're tired of testing. And I don't blame them. By my count, here's the testing we've put them through this year:

  • Beginning of the Year math assessment (2 days)
  • i-Ready Beginning of the Year Diagnostic (2 - 3 days, math and ELA)
  • NYC Performance Tasks (2 - 3 days, math and ELA)
  • Ready Interim assessment (2 days, math and ELA)
  • 2017 NYS ELA Book 2 (1 day)
  • GoMath Vertical Beginning of the Year assessment (2 days)
  • i-Ready Mid-year Diagnostic (2 - 3 days, math and ELA)
  • Ready Interim Assessment 2 (3 days, ELA)
So, by the end of Wednesday, we will have taken eight different tests (not including our end of unit assessments). These tests have taken roughly 19 instructional days. Tomorrow is the 100th day of school. That means almost 1/5 of our school year has been dedicated to testing.

I do my best to encourage my kids to do their best on these tests. Not because I believe they're all incredibly valuable, but I want the data to reflect their true abilities. But today showed me the impact of my encouragement is pretty limited.

Meanwhile, as teachers we're up to our necks in data. We don't need any spreadsheets bleeding red to show us that our kids are on track to fail these exams. 

Tomorrow is the 100th day of school, and I'll do my best to make it celebratory. Unfortunately for part of the day, it will just be another day of testing.


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