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It's funny ... for all that schools are associated with tests, teachers love to complain about testing.  We say we "don't like" grading tests, we "hate wasting time" administering them, and don't even get us started on standardized tests!

Since early October brings both the PSAT and the PLAN to American high schools, I've heard quite a few complaints – and possibly even made a few – about testing for the last week or so.  And there will be more, as our second reporting period draws to an end soon, bringing midterm exams in many classes.

http://wp.me/pJRHq-tD

Why don't teachers "like" tests and testing days?  Why are things like the PSAT, PLAN, and other more diagnostic forms of testing especially unpopular?  I wonder if it's because we can't really use the results to label and classify students, because the results of those tests more clearly belong to students and their families than us school people.

What do you think? +Debbie Pribele +Donna Murdoch +Laura Gibbs +Troy Roddy +Roger Travis +Pam Moran +Ira Socol +Emily Lewis +Rachel Ash +Miriam Patrick-Prince +Robert Patrick 
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Great questions - many teachers that I see don't "hate" tests, they give a lot of them, and they don't hate the imposition of rules either, they just don't like others imposing rules.

With any "assessment" the questions must be, (1) "What is the learning which will occur through this?" (2) "What, exactly, are we measuring, and how will that measurement benefit the student?" (3) What is the lowest pressure way for this assessment to occur, so students can focus on the learning questions, and not the pressure?"
 
I'll have to re-read your blog (a little distracted at the moment) but two things come to mind
1) are we assessing for the sake of the assessment or to really gather useful information about the student and how to better serve the student
2) "need" .. I have a story. When in school for early childhood education I had to observe at a day care centre. As an observer I wasn't to interact with the children, just sit and watch. While I was watching however two boys became engaged in a potentially dangerous activity and I chose to break the rules and intervene. The phrase of the day was "You need to...." and so, in an effort to be a good educator I said, "You need to keep those cars in the bin and not throw them." The one lad looked at me and said, "And you need to mind your own business."
Well, of course he was right because I was only there to observe ... but more importantly, I hated being told what I needed to do! That was many, many years ago but I still remember it when the sentence happens to come out of my mouth. I usually rephrase the statement in a less directive way.
 
Assessments: recently I spent a lot of time with a child care centre trying to help each teacher find strategies that worked for him/her to utilize observations for program planning. 
There are some that get it, some that touch the surface of it and some that are stuck in the old world of "themes-based learning". (Not that there is anything wrong with theme-based learning, if you incorporate the strengths/needs of each child into the planning). 
Many of the teachers struggled with the philosophy because it meant a whole lot more time spent on program planning as well as on documenting observations. When speaking with the teachers, they were able to identify the strengths/needs of each of the children and even show what they have included in the classroom for some of the needs. 
But how do I know that they are looking at the big picture, at the whole child? And how are they sharing their information and observations with parents/caregivers, with co-workers, and with supervisors? 

Perhaps it is because I love the pen/paper and I process information through my writing that I see documentation as a key component of utilizing assessments. Maybe there other ways to achieve the same thing.. but regardless of the "how", for me, the key thing is to observe and then use this information to plan. 
 
I want to point out that I am not at all sure these tests are useful for honest child need evaluation or as real assessments of what a child knows or can do. That is why I resent standardized tests and the time they take from my classes. If they were assessments that had real meaning for me and instruction it would be different.
 
+Justin Schwamm The PSAT is a 100% waste of time for students. It is a test to get ready to take a test and teachers already do test prep. (I know we all know this, but you DID ask why teachers might object. I was good at such tests, so I didn't mind taking it and showing off, but even as a student I think I knew it was a waste.)

You're talking more about K12 tests, but in our higher-ed system the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) is an example of a mandate for each campus. It's disliked because it's an add-on to the curriculum that no "reasonable person" could object to (show us that your grads can write!) and there's a whole test-prep subgenre for it... Need I go on? We basically have an extra course for GWAR to "make sure" students are ready for it so you can argue it's 3 or 4 units wasted that could be applied to a student's major or (!) an elective.

I don't teach a class that fulfills the GWAR so the above is just what I hear on the street.

http://www.calstate.edu/app/gwar/
 
In a rush this morning (have to squeeze the whole day into this morning since we are going to dentist later, argh) - anyway, replying here to make sure I come back to this later! George, I didn't know about GWAR and you know I will have lots of questions to pester you with about that. Happy Monday, everybody!
 
I don't get the whole preparing for the test when the test is supposed to be an assessment of current abilities. 
All that goes through my mind is that the current teacher has to teach all the stuff that the students didn't pick up on in previous years and cram it all into a short period of time so the kids can do the test, get a good mark and then go back to where they were before the test ... is that a little too pessimistic? 
 
Very timely-- tomorrow I'm going to be discussing assessment with my students (who will be teachers next semester) . If you don't mind,  I'm going to lurk-- I mean look :)  on this thread to see what people think.
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