Test Anxiety

There are now 24 days left until the NYS ELA exam. We had a practice test last week and we have three days of practice exams this week. It's a little hard not to feel the crunch, and it's even tougher to keep the kids from feeling it.

Last year I didn't feel the stress. I didn't know enough to realize how little time I had. And I was mostly focused on my own day to day survival. Meanwhile this year, I've set my sights much higher. My goal is for every student to pass the ELA with a 3 (proficient) or higher. The combination of greater self-awareness and higher expectations means I'm feeling the pressure.

I can deal with the stress. My main concern is to avoid projecting it too heavily onto the students. I can't control it when other teachers make statements like, "If you don't pay attention you're going to be sitting right here next year, because you won't pass the test!" However, I am doing my best to take the edge off the test and the dullness/tedium away from the endless stream of practice tests.

Today I asked the kids to try to find one interesting fact in the reading and after the practice test was over they all shared favorite parts they read in the stories, articles and poem. Will it work in the long term?


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