Star Test, 2011. Two weeks of fun. Fourth grade has four days all together. That’s light, compared to the rest of the grades. So we tested Tuesday and Wednesday of the first week (with a short practice test on Monday), and Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week.
The test are untimed, meaning the kids can take as long as they want to finish. It’s nice, because they don’t need to feel rushed. The age-old question is what to let the kids do when they finish. If you give them something fun to do, then they might rush to finish, especially the lower kids. But if you don’t give them something to do, then those kids who work hard and finish earlier than others have nothing to do once they are done. And I’ve seen kids who do well on the test who finish almost an hour before the last student. I usually just let my kids read when they are done. Nothing too fun, but at least it gives them something to do.
Logistically speaking, the nice thing about testing is we get a longer recess every day, even on days where we’re not actually testing. And recess is a bit later in the day, meaning the time between recess and lunch is shorter (which is nice). And there’s less planning to do. Not to mention, you want to reward the kids for their hard work and concentration during the test, so you tend to make the afternoons more fun. Plus, we have no Oral Language (what we usually do first thing every day), and we have no intervention. That means less to plan.
Another age-old question. How much credit/blame do we give the teachers for the test results. I’m not sure the kids understand why they have to take the test every year. And I’m really not sure they care. And they don’t get the results until after the next school year starts. And they probably don’t know if they did better or worse then they did the year before that test. So how much could they care? And their results really don’t effect them. The results don’t go on their report card, or effect it. So again, how much can they care?