What’s Best for the Kids

We are coming to the end of the second week of SBAC and CST testing.  Our schedule has been modified to give students two or three block periods within which they will take the math or ELA portion of the SBAC and the CST science exam.

As a history teacher, I’m not testing.

And that makes me happy.

But what’s really troubling to me is the fact that we have significant numbers of students who are not finishing the SBAC test.  Our school has allocated more than the minimum number of suggested minutes for each test.  We’ve modified our schedule so that instructional time has been equally distributed across the various disciplines.  But the problem that I think we’re going to have is that next week when we’re supposed to be done with SBAC…our students will need to continue to finish portions.

Why is the test taking so long?

Apparently they are going to finish the test in their ELA or math class…the same class in which they were taking the SBAC in the first place.  But this will take away from valuable instruction time.  The ELA and math classes have already lost instructional time to accommodate the SBAC test.

Since I’m not testing and since I’ve only seen practice questions, I can’t say for sure why this test is taking so long to complete.  But I’m wondering why students have to take a test that is so long in the first place.  The attention span of middle school students isn’t very long…they have a difficult time sitting still…their minds are whirling around with various thoughts…and they are freaking out about the changes in their body due to puberty.  So why? Why must they be subjugated to a test that is taken during a 2 1/2 hour block period?  It’s ridiculous.  I’m waiting for one of them to lose their minds when they come to my class after taking a computerized test for 2 1/2 hours.

I don’t blame them for coming to my class mentally exhausted from taking the SBAC.  And our department has done our best to make sure that we plan activities in our history classes that are not necessarily mentally taxing, but most definitely engaging, activities that allow students to talk with each other and get out of their seats.

I understand that the state needs “data” to justify funding for education.  But every year, I feel like the amount and nature of testing is increasing…and that not only takes away from instructional time but I just don’t think that it’s in the best interests of the kids.

I don’t have a solution.

I’m just at a loss.

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