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“Why do we have school after the state assessments are over?”

Mmm . . . great question.

It’s even better when a middle school kid asks it.

A teacher friend of mine passed on the question from one of her students and I figured I would pass it on to you. So I really want to know. Why do we have school after state assessments are over?

And, even though we all believe it, you can’t say

there is still a lot to learn.

Because apparently the secret is out. Even the kids have figured it out – school is not about learning, it’s about test scores.

Once we’ve taken the test, there’s no longer any reason for school.

The kid may have a point. Right or wrong, many teachers feel compelled to cram in all of their content in six or seven months rather than nine because the assessment schedule starts in March. And, yes, good teachers continue to teach and kids continue to learn after the assessments. But I’ve been in too many classes where it’s busy work till the end of May.

So . . . what do we tell the kid? What do we tell ourselves?

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. ed #

    The REAL reason we still have school is because we are the daycare and rec commision for most of these kids. At some point in time we shifted from education to daycare provider.

    March 12, 2011
  2. Kim #

    There is a lot still to learn…even though it is not “tested”. it is valuable to the student as a whole person. Life…and learning should not focus totally on that “test”. I do many, many educational …not busy work… activities and lessons through April and May. I cannot believe that I am the exception rather than the rule! I hope and pray that teachers are there for the right reason…to educate.

    I love what I do and I truly feel that if you don’t absolutely love it…every day…(not everything) you should find another profession.

    March 12, 2011
    • glennw #

      Kim,

      I want my kids in your class! There is so much more we can do after assessments . . . it’s great to feel your passion for teaching and learning.

      glennw

      March 13, 2011
  3. Amy #

    In April and May I teach the stuff that makes learning fun! It’s a great way to end the year and remind the kids that school can be educational, fun and a good place to be!

    March 13, 2011
    • glennw #

      Amy,

      There are so many things that we can do to build a sense of wonder and awe in our kids. The brain learns best when it’s having fun! Thanks for working to create that type of learning environment.

      glennw

      March 13, 2011
  4. Don Gifford #

    Learning should be fun, before and after the assessment. I’m sure that you all try to make what you do fun and educational. We have got to return the focus of schools to learning, not assessment. Your role as teacher is second only in importance to the role of student in your classroom. We need to position our students for success, not on an assessment, but for life. Inform, instruct and inspire, perhaps not in that particular order. Keep up the good work!

    March 14, 2011
    • glennw #

      Thanks, Don, for a concise description of our roles as social studies teachers. I especially like the word “inspire” . . . and the fact that inspiration and fun should happen all year long, not just after the assessment.

      glennw

      March 14, 2011
  5. Pam #

    As an integration specialist for several years, I often had teachers tell me that we could do those “fun activities in April and May after the assessments”. My frustration with this is that none of the activities/units I proposed were void of tested indicators, that they were just good things for kids to know but not necessary for scoring well on the assessment. Actually, the lessons I proposed were project-based, learner-centered activities that help students answer the question “Why do I have to know this?” because what they were doing with the information answered the question. Why do those kinds of activities have to wait until April and May? Shouldn’t we teach like this all year long so kids find a connection with the information, hopefully making it much easier for them to retrieve it when they are taking a test. Kids won’t remember a concept that was in chapter 7 or on worksheet 5.2, but they will remember an experiment they did or data they collected themselves and what THEY did with it to analyze the information.

    March 14, 2011
    • glennw #

      Pam,

      I agree. Engaging and “fun” esearch-based strategies aligned to standards do two things: increase long-term learning AND raise test scores. We can do both of those things at the same time. It’s not either/or but both/and.

      Thanks for the comment! Good luck!

      glennw

      March 14, 2011
  6. Carlene #

    Students need to be taught by example that learning is a life-long process. That’s why we still have school after assessments. Learning is something that should be done everyday of our lives. How exciting to think what I might learn today!
    I think the time after assessments is a great time to change the pace and do some special projects. Write stories , science projects, role-play a bill being considered by the congress, and present plays. Do a research project and plan a way to share your information with others — displays, murals, a power point, create a play, etc. Read some good books and share them in fun ways!

    March 14, 2011
  7. Kari Kresky #

    Here is what McPherson is doing.

    Check out this video.

    March 16, 2011
    • glennw #

      I like the things that Mac is doing, especially in Social Studies. They’ve had thematic instruction for several years already – combining geo/gov/history/econ together. Their waiver of exemption from NCLB assessments provides more freedom to do school it should be done.

      Curious to see how that all works out!

      glennw

      March 16, 2011

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