Test Prep Season

So...let me apologize first for the lack of updates. I'm in the middle of the soul-crushing experience known as test prep season. I'm doing my best to keep my lessons meaningful and authentic, but as most testing grade teachers know, it's not always my choice. That's where "test prep blitz" comes in.

Once a day, one of my school's AIS (Academic Intervention Services) providers comes into my classroom to work with a small group of students while I work with the rest of the class on a specific strategy. In some ways the strategies are useful, as they're strategies that good readers use whenever reading. However, because the lessons are straight from the ELA test prep books provided, there is no differentiation, so the effectiveness is limited to the kids who are reading at grade level (or at least close). That would include, oh about, six of my students.

Midway through my third year I get it. I promise. I understand the stakes of these tests and I understand the necessary evil of helping kids understand the format and idiosyncrasies of the test. But I don't know if I'll ever understand why we forgo best practices in the run up to the tests. I imagine using the 45 minutes allotted for test prep blitz to do back to back guided reading lessons would be a lot more worthwhile.

In 45 minutes with the help of my AIS provider we could teach all my students in small groups. I don't know for sure what sort of results it would yield on the tests, but I feel confident it would help make my kids better readers faster. Of course getting my D readers (early 1st grade level) to an E or an F by April won't cut it, so instead I'm supposed to stick to the one-size-fits all machinery of test prep. At least it will be over in just 22 school days.


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