Tag Archives: State testing

Testing, Day 2

It’s day 2 of testing.  In 4th grade its part 2 for the Language Arts portion.  I hate it how it says “English – Language Arts Test,” as if we give any other language tests.


I like to let my kids get their brains awake before we start testing.  I’ve been told light exercise is good for that, so I like to let my kids run a little, and maybe do some stretching before we head up to the classroom.  Then I want to let them get drinks and use the bathroom so they don’t have to worry about that after we start testing.  Once the testing starts, they aren’t allowed to leave their desks or the classroom.

Once we are in the classroom and ready to start, I have them spread their desks out so they are away from everyone.  Now this year I have the biggest class I have ever had, so when they spread out there isn’t a ton of room between every desk.  But at least they are not right next to someone.

One they are spread out, I pass out the pencils, and then the test booklets and answer documents.  Obviously, it’s important that they get THEIR same answer document, but because there are different versions of the test, it’s important that they get their same testing booklet as well.

Once those are passed out, I read the directions exactly like the Directions for Administration tells me to.  They actually have boxes that say, “Say….”  You are only aloud to say what those boxes say; no more, no less.

Then I let them begin.  They end up getting from about 9:20 till 11:10 (that is our recess).  If they need more time they are escorted to another room where they finish.  I know – that means they don’t get their recess.  It’s a bummer, but I don’t know of any other way.  Throughout the state, they are not allowed to talk with students during the test, in the classroom or outside of it, where they might talk about the test and give away answers.  If you let people who were not done with the test out for recess with those who are finished, there is potential there for cheating.

After recess, we spend the day doing things that are not so rigorous, and we do some math review as well.  Those who did not finish before recess stay in the room they were brought to and stay there until they are done.

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It’s that time of the year again.  Easy on the lesson plans, tough on the nerves; State testing.  We spend the entire year getting ready for it.  We practice for it.  I know many students are stressed about it.  I know a lot of teachers are.

I typically have my students spread their desks out while testing.  This year I was thinking they didn’t do a very good job this year.  They’re all still packed in tight.  Then I remembered the 5 extra students I have this year.  That’s why they are still packed in tight, even when they spread out.

In years passed I’ve given each of my students a roll of Smarties, as a treat, while they are testing.  I like to think it gives them a little break from the test.  This year our district said no mints, no gum, no candies.  Nothing that could give them an unfair advantage.  Really??  I miss snacking on those Smarties.

I find testing to be tiring, for me and my students.  The teachers are told not to be sitting at their desks while the students are testing.  Walk around, monitor, check to make sure students are not skipping questions or answering in the wrong section.  I just find it tiring walking up and down the aisles all morning.

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The Writing Test

The test came today.  I picked it up from the vice principal’s office first thing this morning.  You have to count your tests to make sure you have one for all your students, then initial to indicate you received the same amount of tests that they say you did.  The first thing I did after picking them up was to look inside one of them and see what genre of writing it was.  Let’s just say I was happy (I’m not allowed to say what the writing genre was).

Our test directions (they call them the DFA’s – Directions for Administration) tell us exactly what we can and can’t say to the class.  We have a direct script that we need to read.

I think I was more nervous this morning then the students, especially before I got to school and saw the writing prompt.  Some of the writing genres are so difficult, especially the ones where the students have to read a passage and either write a summary about it or respond to it.

A lot of my students struggle with reading, and if they have to read something BEFORE they write about it, just makes the test that much more difficult.  It’s almost like it’s a reading AND writing test.  Which would be okay, but the reading test comes later in the year.  This is just supposed to be a writing test.  That is also why I wish we could read the writing prompt.  It’s not very long, but believe it our not, some of my students have trouble reading it.  I don’t understand why a teacher just can’t read the writing prompt to the students.   That way the students can be clear on what they are supposed to write, and they don’t get penalized because they aren’t good readers.

But don’t get me started.

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The Writing Test

Spending Monday morning writing with my class.  We have four genres to review: narrative summary, expository summary, personal narrative, and fictional narrative.  We’ll be wiring thinking maps for all of those in the morning.  And maybe putting one or two to a rough draft.  But the thinking map is the key.  It’s their plan.  Once they get that, the rough draft should be easy.  So we’ll be practicing that all morning.

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Writing in My District

For math, my district gives me a math curriculum, which comes with several teacher’s manuals and other materials to help me teach the students what they need to know.  The same with science and social studies.  A little with PE.

But writing?  We hardly get any help from our curriculum or our district.  Most of the writing in our curriculum is things like, “Writing in a Journal” or “How to Take a Phone Message.”

Really?  Who cares how they write in a journal?  And let their parents tell them how to take a message.

Our district (and the state)  expects us to teach writing a personal narrative, a fictional narrative, a narrative summary, an expository summary, and a response to literature.  Our district tests us on 4 of those.  And in fourth grade we have the state writing test, which can be any of those (we don’t find out which one until the day of the test).  Almost none of that is covered in our state approved, district bought curriculum.  And the district sure doesn’t give us any added support.  The teachers are on their own.

The state writing test is coming up in a few weeks.  Wish me luck.

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Here We Go Again?

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?

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Tesing – Day 2

Testing continues.   It’s day 2.  Language arts both days.  Tomorrow and Friday we won’t be testing.  We’ll start back up next week on Tuesday for math, and again test Tuesday and Wednesday.

It’s not too bad, actually.  Only four days of testing.  But the testing mornings seem long, I’m sure especially for the kids.  Lots of reading.  And with the math their will be lots of writing, as they’ll have to do a lot of computations.

Testing can be a little tricky.  First of all, you’ve spent your entire year getting ready for these 2 weeks.  So the stress level is a bit high, especially for those students who are with it enough to know the test is important.

And what to do during the test is a challenge for me.  My principals have always encouraged us to walk around the class.  Make sure the students are putting theier answers in thr right place, things like that.  I can see that.  Room wandering also keeps those students who tend to let their mind wonder and distract the rest of the class from doing so.

But honestly, I’m not going to wander around the room the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes.  So I wander, and then sit for a bit.  Or I wander and read material I have printed up.  Or I wander and check homework.  Or I wander and write.  Wander.  Sit. Wander/read.  Wander.  Sit.  Wander/write.  You get the point.  What ever I’m doing, I continue to watch the kids.  I’ve got a few that love to goof around.  Especially after they are done for the day and getting board.

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Testing – 2011

Testing starts tomorrow.  We took the practice test today.  It’s not nearly as long, but it gives them a taste for what to expect.  And it gives me material to review with them, to discuss the test with them.  It’s been a year for them, and for me.

Maybe I should ask them about last year’s test, and what they remember about it.

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The State Writing Test

Weeks of build up have finally culminated today with the writing test.  We spent the last two days reviewing and writing.  It’s pretty uncomfortable preping the students for a writing test when you don’t know what genre it will be on until the morning of the test.  For those of you playing along at home, here were the possibilities: narrative summary, expository summary, fictional narrative, personal narrative, and response to literature.

When I arrived at school this morning my VP said I could pick up the test.  You know the first thing I did was to see what genre it was.  Turns out it was expository summary.  Not too bad.  But one thing that will hurt them is that they have to read a piece first.  A lot of my students are struggling readers, and reading a long passage like the one in the test will be difficult.

So that’s what they are doing now.  They are all quietly reading the passage, circling important words, and listing them in their thinking map.  Some of them might do okay.  But honestly, it looks like a few students have circled way too many “important” words.

It makes for a quiet morning.

* * * * *

Looking around, most are finally finishing (more than an hour later).  We’ve already missed our recess because only about 8 were finished at that time.  Ideally, there should only be about 4 not finished, and those 4 can be escorted to another room while the rest of the class has recess.  But in all the 4th grade classes there were too many students not finished.  So someone came in to let me use the bathroom, and they’ll check back in about 14 minutes to see if we can go to recess.

At this point, I see a lot of students with long lists of important words (too long, in fact) that they have to put into sentences to summarize the passage.  One boy’s summary I think will be longer than the original text.

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Testing Hangover

Testing spoils you, as a teacher, that is.  Your planning is already set for the morning – testing.  During most of the other times during the day, you’re doing test prep, or something fun to relax the students.  You just don’t do too much during the two weeks of testing.  And the homework load is light, as well.  You don’t want your class staying up late doing homework the night before the test.  So there is little homework to check.

But there is a problem.  What to do the rest of the year.  I can go back and cover the things I’ve skipped in math, but that isn’t much.  Everything important needed to be taught before the test.  I do have one more theme in language arts, but I’ve taught all the important concepts.  So I’ve got about 2 weeks worth of stuff to teach in math, and maybe 4 weeks worth of stuff in language arts.  And about 6 weeks left in school.

Well, our Gold Rush play is coming up, so we can spend lots of time learning that, and the square dance we’ll be doing.  And we just found out we’ll be having and upper grade Olympics towards the end of school, so we can spend lots of time getting ready for that.  Those two, plus lots of science and social studies.

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