Thursday, April 5, 2012

Notes From The Testing Trenches

The kindergartners survived standardized testing.  I believe it was their sense of naiveté and absolute trust in my ability to chart their course that kept the smiles on their faces.

Mostly naiveté.  Maybe the tootsie rolls, smarties, and popsicles.

I, on the other hand, bit the inside of my mouth until it was raw.  And I laughed with disbelief at the phrasing of certain questions.  My insides twisted with frustration as I watched children choose the wrong answer....children who get it right 99% of the time!!  We prayed before each subtest--a privilege I do not take lightly.  
The tagline of the year, "May the odds be ever in your favor!"
also seemed appropriate.

This year, I'm giving awards in several categories.
Disclaimer:  Questions have been tweaked to protect the integrity of the testing process and to save me from my own ignorance.
Most Muddled Question:  "Timmy wants to buy a toy at the store.  What does Timmy not need to know in order to buy a toy?"  
 a) a thermometer...b) a pile of coins...c)a toy with a price tag...d)another toy with a price tag    
Facial expressions were priceless as students pondered why I had stopped speaking.  "Where is the rest of the story, Mrs. P?"  Some of the kiddos chose the toy that they liked the least.  Some of them picked the thermometer.   Next year, I must add a thermometer to my classroom wish list.  

#1 "Help Me!" Question:  This one was all about quarters, adding them together using only the numerals; a skill that has not and will not be introduced in our math series!  Next year, I must add a shopping component to my lesson plans!

Worst Breakfast:  Cookies.  Every morning this week.  I asked, "C., was it a protein packed, whole grain, fiber-filled cookie?".  The child replied, "Nope.  Just plain old chocolate chip."  Next year, I will invest in cheese sticks for morning snacks.

Worst Question, IMHO:  There is really no way for me to camouflage this question.  It was about Jesus (Yes, there is a special Bible test....which covers the entire Bible...for kindergartners.) and certain identifying moments in His earthly ministry.  When I later shared the correct answer, many children literally smacked themselves on their foreheads.  Little Miss N. just sunk to the carpet and gave a deep sigh.
Truthfully, I don't think there is anything I can do about this one.

Best "It Worked!" Strategy:  Yippee, the 'balanced approach to literacy' paid off for my class in a BIG way!  I scored their reading subtests (I know, the scores aren't completely accurate, given that I am not factoring in the birthdays, etc.  But this is still relevant and exciting!) and discovered that no one missed more than 4 questions out of 40.  Considering the fact that 80% of the class will not turn six until the summer, I think they are going to score fairly well!  THANKS to all of you, for sharing your creativity and passion through blogging.  I know that your insights have enriched my teaching!

Is testing in your future?  
Grab a copy of "You Are A Smartie"!  
My students were delighted with each note and treat.

Happy Easter!  Happy Passover!


  1. Your play-by-play made me giggle. Yet, it all made me a bit sad too. Kindergarten kids and standardized tests? Ugh. Regardless, I'm sure they're blossoming in your classroom. You don't need a standardized test to know that. :)

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Have we lost our minds? Kindergarten children taking standardized tests. I want to pull my hair out and I swear I am not an old fuddy-duddy. Is that a word? The Tommy question is known as example and non example and kinder kids have trouble with the language of the question and you have to practice it a billion times. Some of these questions are way beyond kinder standards or is that irrelevant? Okay. I am glad this is over for you.
    Much love and do not beat yourself up for this, Fran

  3. Tammy, thanks for the sweet words!

    Fran, I know I have more gray in my hair after this experience! thanks for clarifying the Tommy question. I knew it was touching on higher order thinking processes, but I felt bad that I hadn't really "practiced" questioning in that way. Bless their hearts, they looked at the choices and thought, "Well, i don't need to know anything about toy 1 (or 2) because I don't like/want that toy." Thankfully, no one chose the money pile---that would have been very disappointing, lol!

  4. Wow! A standardized fill in the bubble test.

    Congratulations to you all for surviving. I would be on pins and needles. Or is hard to administer a standardized bubble test in first grade. I can only imagine...

  5. I am going to grab your You Are A Smartie, but hopefully I will never have to use it in kindergarten. However, I think that day is fast approaching. So lucky you can say a prayer because that would be the best way to deal with this stress!!

  6. Sue, I get to troll through every test booklet and do quality control on the, right?! (Not!) Thankfully, we are off on Monday; I might take a venti latte and a dvd to the classroom and atttack that task!

    Robynn, the math portion had two subtests which were separated by recess. When I asked them to close their eyes for prayer, before the second part, Miss K asked "Why are we praying for math again?". Miss A (aka Litle Teacher) replied, "Because we left the test and who knows what could have happened during recess?" In kindergarten, even prayer has its moments filled with laughter!

  7. Glad you made it through! I had my observation this week and talked over the report card with my principal. Thanks for your example. Have a great weekend!
    (PS - I am finally on break now!!!!!)

  8. At least you can laugh about it! :) I love the highlights you listed as well. We give ours right after Thanksgiving!!!! We have 3 1/2 months to get those kiddos ready and able to understand how to fill in bubbles. The worst part is the pressure because we are accountable for that data. Nothing like sitting in a meeting listening to how important getting good scores is--they are 5, sometimes they don't even know how write their names yet at that point. Can you tell I'm a little bitter? :)



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