Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

One Teacher's Guide To Elementary School Survival

To Test Prep or Not to Test Prep, That is the Question....

I am truly opening a can of worms with this post.  There are many educators with extremely strong feelings on both ends of this spectrum.  What is the goal of test prep instruction?  Is it teaching strategies?  Is it exposing students to high stress situations in hope to desensitize them?  These are the questions I struggle with at this point in the school year.  Part of me says that if I have done my job all year, taught to my state standards, followed my curriculum I should not have to break from routine to pound kids over the head with high stress situations and boring test strategy workbooks for a month.  On the other hand, I do believe I should expose my students to the testing situation (i.e. quiet for extended time, in seats, etc) prior to testing so that they are atleast familiar with the routine.  Add to this that there is talk of merit pay and using test scores to factor into determining that and you are left panicked.  If I don't test prep like crazy and they bomb the test, how will that play into my job security?  If I do test prep like crazy and they are burnt out and can't even focus or rush through, how will that effect me? 

I am beginning to think that they should just test the educators!!!!  Save themselves some time and just test us!  Let us stress and worry and sweat over answers in a timed setting and leave these poor kids alone!  Or better yet, why not just pre and post test them at the beginning of the year and judge them (and us) on growth and not just a pass/fail scale.  We have all had kids that we know won't pass at grade level.  Does that mean they have not grown throughout the year?  No!  Holding kids (especially those with known learning disabilities) to a grade level standard is obsurd.  How are we to expect a child who reads at a 1st or 2nd grade reading level to pass the 3rd, 4th or 5th grade test without anyone helping them read words they are unfamiliar with?  Education is an eternal process.  It is never ending.  Therefore, we should be looking for growth from the start to finish of each year and not just a one shot test. 

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