In every meeting, no matter the grade, teachers arrived at the same conclusion: Students chose the wrong answer because the format of the test questions was so unfamiliar and contrived that it threw them off.
The language was no everyday 7-year-old language. At least not in our community filled with students of all different colors and speakers of many different languages.
The test’s physical formatting differs from any authentic text students have encountered. Questions are organized horizontally across the exam page, but the scannable answer document is oriented vertically, in columns and too small for students to visually discriminate.
Some test proponents say getting students started with testing at a young age will prepare them to be good test-takers in the future, with advance placement and college entrance exams on the horizon. I don’t feel any testing, of this type, gives teachers or families a full picture of student ability and achievement.
As we developed our instructional plans, we realized we were stuck. We wanted to prepare our students for success, but that meant we might be engaging in the most dreaded, most despised of all instructional practices: Teaching To The Test.
I just get so frustrated that nothing is really being done to change this test-motivated environment. I think it flies in the face of almost everything we try to do as educators — especially on the side of students who struggle or have disabilities. We praise them all year for their successes, and then they take this one test which has the possibility to ruin all the self-confidence and pride they have gained.