Sunday, April 20, 2014

Confessions of a Fifth Grade Teacher

Here goes . . . No matter how hard I try not to, about 1 month before I always seem to start stressing over the end-of-the-year test.  In Georgia it's called the CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Test), and for 5th grate students it determines whether or not they will be promoted to the sixth grade.

Yes, I know the final decision to promote or retain must be a committee decision, but let's face it a lot of students, parents, and I suspect teachers find this test to be a little stressful.  After all if the student passes the test, there is no need for a committee to meet or make that life changing decision. (Studies have found that "6th grade students rated being retained as the most stressful life event higher than the loss of a parent or going blind.") I can't imagine it's much different for a fifth grader, but that's a topic for another post.

Most of the year, I refuse to allow my teaching to be dictated by a test that lasts 5 days; I use the standards and what I know about how students learn to guide my instruction.  But it always seems that about a month before the test, I start to pull out multiple choice reading and math practice tests.   We spend time practicing how to "rule out 2",  "slash the trash" and all the other test taking tips.  I start to stress about "showing your work" when most of the year we valued students being able to solve math problems mentally.  We watch  motivational videos on taking the test.  Here's another one a teacher shared that is a parody of "Let it Go" from Frozen. and another called "Rock This Test. Cute, but I can't help but think that the time I spend on testing skills and review could be better spent doing science labs or investigating something . . . anything!

I have read posts from other teachers who say they do not do practice type tests with their students and their students do well on the test.  I have no doubt that the students that  are going to do well will do well regardless.  I just think about the ones that are teetering on the edge and could fall on either side of the testing fence.

Do you spend time reviewing for the test or do you trust that what you've done all year long is enough?  Testing begins in 3 days!  I guess I need to "let it go"! :-).  Ok. . . I just asked my students how many of them were stressed about the test, and only a few hands went up.  Maybe it's just me! 

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