This week’s Current Connection we had the reading “Test Prep” by Koretz, D. In the reading Koretz talked about the 3 different types of bad test prep. The first one was reallocation between subjects, which is when teachers cut back on material that is not going to raise test scores. Which leads them to shift resources and focus only to those subjects, and cut resources on other subjects like: social studies, art, and music. Which we have seen schools do. One of the problems with this is that what is being cut is very important for the students and for all of us. Which means if students aren’t allowed to learn social studies and science properly, we are setting them up for failure in future jobs that involve those subjects and possibly leave them out for even trying to go out and get degrees in that field. The second problem with this type of test prep is that it can create a misleading positive impression of test-based accountability.
The second type of bad test prep is reallocation within a subject. Which is about reallocationing tine and other resources within the subject that you are teaching. And focusing on topics that are going to be emphasized on the test instead of topics as a whole. And take away from a lot of potential from students going deeper into one subject that they would like to learn more about.
The third bad type of test prep is Coaching. This type of test prep focuses on unimportant details of the test, such as the format of the test, how the material is presented, and how the content is being tested. They also focus on how the student’s response is going to be scored. Coaching focuses more on details of the test rather than the underlying content that students need to learn,
The article that I found that connected to the reading was “Teacher: What happened when I stopped test prep and focused on building relationships with my students.” by Valerie Strauss. The article talks about the No Child Left Behind program. Which is when standardized testing became the main way for evaluating students, teachers, and schools. And this started under the Obama Administration, there was a policy put into place where most states for teachers to be evaluated by standardized test scores of their students. Teachers started to give tips on testing within their lessons to get students ready for standardized testing, and practiced with last year’s tests to get students a sense of the type of questions that will be on the test for the upcoming year. Along with that teachers would have students practice doing tests on computers in order for their students to build stamina and for preparation for the test. Strauss in the article talks about how she eliminated test prep from her lesson plans, and focused on building relationships and making engaging lesson plans. What she focused on throughout the year was getting to know students as individuals, focusing extra attention on quiet, withdrawn students, sharing personal stories, taking time for positive home-school communities, pushing back against that panicky feeling that “We don’t have time for this” and maintaining an upbeat, enthusiastic attitude. And when the testing season approached she did not change what she was doing throughout the year, the only thing that she told her students was how testing was an important test of measurement.
When Strauss got the result back she felt a number of emotions. She was happy that her students had made improvements. As well as disappointed with results of students she knew would have wanted to do better with their results. After looking at the tests overall, she came to the conclusion that relationships matter. And what Strauss is something that I plan on doing when I become a teacher, because it is something that I think is important to have in the classroom. Because it helps build a community and help the students feel more comfortable in the classroom, so when it comes time to have these tests there is less pressure on the students for them to get a certain, but instead of them just going in and trying their best.