Posts Tagged ‘1st grade

29
Jun
09

Teaching to the Test: How Young is Too Young?

One of the hottest topics within the elementary education field is standardized testing (NJASK, etc). 

Although it seems as though many teachers are opposed to purely teaching to the test, it seems as though it’s almost impossible to teach any other way.  When I was in grade school, we were taught lessons to help us in life but might eventually help us on the standardized test.  Now, skills for the test are being taught in hopes that students will also learn a hint of something useful for their lives.  I do understand that testing is important to have in order to make sure that our country has a standard education but that education comes with a cost.

The age at which standardized testing begins is rapidly becoming younger.  This worries me because I understand the pressure caused by these tests in young children.  So much pressure is put on these young students that they are truly suffering.  A 7 year old should not have nosebleeds and anxiety attacks from school!  School is supposed to be an enjoyable, safe, and learning environment not scary! 

What happens when a child is not good at performing well on tests?  I know, for one, that I have severe test anxiety.  These students, like me, are punished or even thought of as stupid because they are unable to perform on these tests. 

Also, what happens to the subjects that are not found on the test?  Well, slowly but surely, funding and time for these activities is decreasing.  Music classes and recess are being taken away from elementary school children and those time slots are filled with English and Math.  Although academic subjects are important, a well rounded education is much more important.  Students should be given time to experiment with all different subjects and also be give time to be active during the school day.

Recently, I spent time observing in a Kindergarten classroom.  These children were given free time for 3 minutes and this only happened one time during my 8 weeks in their classroom.  Although test scores will surely rise due to taking away play time, what kind of human beings will these children become if they’re never given the opportunity to create art or play with puzzles?

When I was young, I loved to sing.  My school did have music class available to students from 5th grade through 12th grade but it was only available at 7am (before school started) one day a week.  Interest in the fine arts suffered because many students (and their parents) had more interest in sleeping in.  This meant that I had to walk a mile and a half to school at 6:30 in the morning. 

Will this taking away of extracurricular activities continue until all children learn in school is how to take a test well?  I hope not.

Also, what happens to the teacher who has students that are bright, wonderful students that just don’t test well?  Teachers have stressful jobs to begin with, the last thing they need is to waste time worrying about the 6 students in her class that just do not perform well on tests.  This creates a circle of shame where the teacher worries about the test and therefore teaches to the test, the students who do not perform well on tests stress, and then complete the circle by creating more stress for the teacher.  How can one test possibly showcase all of a student’s abilities as well as a teacher’s abilities?

How do you feel about standardized testing? 

I’ll leave with you a video about this topic that you might find intersting.

Until next time.

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25
Jun
09

Do Praxis Scores Indicate Teaching Ability?

As a junior in an elementary education program, I’m currently preparing for the Praxis. Essentially, this test is the key to my future. If I do not pass it, I will not be able to be an elementary school teacher. If I do pass, I’m allowed to continue in my program and hopefully achieve my goals.
I consider myself an intelligent person but as I stare at explanations for why A is a better answer than B, I can’t help but wonder: If I fail this test, does that mean I won’t be a good teacher? Does passing this test mean that I have the ability to be a good teacher?
The simple answer to both questions is NO.

Many smart people do not have the skills necessary to be a good teacher. Teaching is more than having a surplus of ‘fun facts’ memorized; teaching is about classroom management, being emotionally strong, having care for students and going above and beyond to help them succeed, and being able to handle being underpaid and overworked. That’s just a taste of what being a teacher means, the full list goes on for ages and pages.

When asked, a friend said, “Sometimes I have potential teachers come in to my classroom and they are brilliant people who passed all their classes and all their tests with ease but when they come to do their student teaching, they don’t have what it takes to be a teacher. Being a teacher is so much more than being smart and being able to pass a test!”

I also have a friend who has spent many hours in a classroom. She is smart, fun, and emotionally has what it takes to be a teacher. After her 4th time failing the Math section of the Praxis, she has decided she won’t be able to be a teacher. Her main problem is that she is unable to memorize the formulas for algebra and geometry. Will being unable to memorize the Pythagorean formula really hinder her from being a wonderful 1st grade teacher? My answer: no!

An example of a Praxis related study video.  Credit goes to: http://www.yourteacher.com


I know many people that did not pass their Praxis on the first try. After failing and paying to take another test and a study book, they passed the test. Did their teaching ability suddenly change? Were they previously unprepared to be teachers? No! They were just unprepared for a simple test!

After finishing this blog, I will go back to my Praxis preparation book, hoping that somewhere within those pages, I will not only find the way to pass an expensive test, I will find what it really takes to become a good teacher.

Until next time.