Monday, March 27, 2006

The Results Are In

Well….the results are in regarding my test (see Friday's post). I’m feeling concerned since our state test is looming. I went through the tests and recorded data based on AYP sub-groups.

A total of 62 students took the test. 26 students passed the test with an 80 or better. 9 students also passed with grades ranging from 79 down to 70. Here’s the part I don’t like….27 students failed the test with scores from 69 down to 20. That is the highest number yet who did not pass a nine week benchmark this year. While more students passed than failed I know most of the 27 who failed are capable of doing better.

The reasons for these results are many and that’s what frustrates me about testing.

We can blame the testing environment or the timing of the test. It was too hot, too cold, or there were too many phone/intercom interruptions. The test was too close to Spring Break (the day before).

We can blame the test. Are the questions (most of the questions were from a professional resource) poorly constructed? Is the test too hard? Not challenging enough?

We can blame the students. They didn’t study. They don’t care. They can’t read. They aren’t motivated. They have test anxiety. They have too much home environment baggage.

We can blame the teacher. The curriculum wasn’t taught. The material was taught in a poor manner. The teacher has poor organization skills. The teacher has problems managing the students during lessons. The teacher sticks to one teaching format leaving out various learning styles.

Here’s the rest of my test data:

Caucasion: Total-41, Passed-26, Failed-15

Black: Total-18, Passed 9, Failed-9

Hispanic: Total-4, Passed 1, Failed-3

Special Education: Total-7, Passed-5, Failed-2

Gifted: Total-6, Passed-4, Failed-2

Boys: Total-35, Passed 19, Failed-16

Girls: Total-26, Passed 16, Failed 10

The Special Education students took the same test as everyone else. The two who failed had modifications. Two of the incorrect answers were removed. Ten of the 41 who passed earned 100’s on the test. Of the four Hispanic students one has only lived in the states and has spoken English since birth----he’s also special ed, and passed the test. Two of the Hispanic students have recently arrived from Mexico and are in my room as part of that “Aw, teach ‘em American History even though they can’t even ask me to go to the restroom without a translator” mentality. The final Hispanic usually makes a 100 on my tests, however, he failed.

All students had the opportunity to have the test read to them. All students had a study sheet one week in advance of the test. Every question and answer that was on the test was on the study sheet.

What do you think? I really want to know. Look at my test. Reread my post with the questions. Tell me honestly what you think.

Here’s what I think…I think the State of Georgia is asking a lot of their nine and ten year old students. I think the questions on my test and on the state test (very similar to mine) are too difficult for the average 4th grader. There’s too much reading---too much information that confuses students.

Here’s another point to ponder. Many teachers in my state are beginning to voice concerns that the there are noticeable dips in the fourth grade state test scores while more students are passing the third grade and fifth grade tests. The third and fifth grade tests are gateway tests to determine if the student can move on or not. The fourth grade test does not determine pass or fail.

Could it be that over the last three years the cut score on the third and fifth grade tests have been shall we say “adjusted” in order to have higher numbers of students meet the bare minimum to pass, while the fourth grade test has not been “adjusted” and remains at the highest level of expectations possible? Could it be that while I’m am trying to ready my students by exposing them to the benchmark tests that are similar to the state test I am simply following the state’s lead and setting the students up for failure?

Lurkers, it’s time to make yourselves known.

What's a teacher to do?


Kate said...

I used to teach in GA. I won't go back. I've found a lot of the southern states tend to think if they make the standards tougher, they'll somehow catch up to the higher performing states. The standards are no longer developmentally appropriate.

We've gotten too far from teaching what the kids need to go on. We've also been too busy, in a lot of districts, interfering in HOW teachers teach. Now we have states like FL who are on the verge of linking student test scores to teacher pay, and I wonder:

Who will teach the special education students? The children from disadvantaged families who statistically do poorer on the tests? The ESOL kids? You won't be able to hire the best teachers to go into those jobs, because they'll be better paid if they go where they are LESS needed.

Jennie W said...

I have to say that when I took your test my thought was that it was too hard for 4th graders. The type of question as well as the thought process to figure them out where just too far above the 4th grade curriculum. I think state testing has been an educational craze...and I'm hoping it goes away, but I'm terrified it won't. I don't think we are getting any better final product with the increase of student testing - its all standardized testing that I don't really think measures student learning.

What's a teacher to do? Run for school board...or maybe Congress...we need some real people up there.

Anonymous said...

I teach 4th grade in Virginia and I just had a very heated argument about this very topic. I'm glad that teachers are thinking critically about this issue. And I wish that our logical and concerned voices were being heard.

I think that it is really hard to write a Social Studies test that doesn't become a reading test. To understand history, students must have reading skills. Cause and effect, sequencing, making judgements -- students have to have all of this to understand history and they are called upon, in my state, to use these skills on a 4th grade state history test.