A PSAT day!

Its Tuesday after spring break, My 7th grade students spent the day at home. I sat silently in a school hallway, PSAT tests were today. Our 8th grade students had to come to school to sit for this 3 hour exam. “At least I get paid for today” was mutter by a teacher as we passed in the hallway. Me, I was bored, staring down a hallway to help students or teachers during the exam. Counting the minutes till the testing was done.  I felt empathy towards the eight graders who were dragged to school out of compliance to the the “TEST”.

What good does the PSAT do for an eighth grader? A practice SAT test that they will endure the struggles for again before moving on to the “REAL” SAT. Their scores will be sent to them in late summer or early fall. Used to tell them where they might need improvement. Concerned parents, worried about college admission MIGHT use the scores to help their child improve. But really the scores are used for something else.

USED to judge our instruction, our teachers and our district. Might there be better ways to do both of these tasks?

As I perused social media over the past day, many teachers and administrators shared positive thoughts, eating and sleeping tips and best wishes to all the students partaking in the exams of this day. What makes this day special? Shouldn’t schools and communities promote good eating, sleeping and wish everyone well for every day? Why should these standardized tests, a snapshot summary of students be so special? Especially since we keep adding more tests each year. ALL of our students will have to endure NWEA and M-STEP assessments in the coming weeks, are we going to hype these up, give groups of students time off and test in small groups for each and every test?

It is time we allow students to build portfolios of work that show who they are so that a few hours on some random test doesn’t carry all this wait and stress.