Letter From a Principal about Testing
A letter from a Principal about Testing (on Teacher Appreciation Day)
This letter about testing was sent from a Principal in NYC to the staff in the school. We’ve reprinted the letter in its entirety. Listen to this post!
We are full swing into testing season. We have managed to survive the NYS ELA and the NYS Math. Those tests, particularly the ELA, have received a great deal of press. I admire my colleagues, especially Liz Phillips, a Principal in District 15 for speaking out about the unfairness and inappropriate content of the ELA. But I wonder if people really understand the enormity of the testing process, especially for a school like our school. Three days of ELA and three days of Math. Six days less for instruction. The entire school is affected on testing days. Schedules are changed, some classes have to give up their rooms and teachers spend hours covering all the charts and pictures they have taught their students to use to help them while reading, writing and working out math problems. For our school, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Next up? New York State English Second Language Achievement Test, better known as the NYSESLAT. The NYSESLAT has four parts, one of which is administered one to one. Our ESL teachers are working tirelessly (or maybe not tirelessly) to test 898 students. Yes, that’s right, 898 students tested one to one and then on three other parts of this assessment with testing modifications. How many days of ESL instruction are lost for this assessment?
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We are not finished. This year as part of the new teacher evaluation we have Measures of Student Learning, or the MOSL. Our school committee chose the Fountas and Pinnell (F and P) Reading Assessment as the MOSL for grades kindergarten, one and two. There is a pre-test in the fall and a post-test in the spring. That’s 700 students who must be tested one to one, taking approximately 20 minutes to a half hour, more or less, twice a year. We had been using the F and P as an assessment for years. Teachers administered it to a few students during independent/ small group instruction every day. Ah, but there is a caveat now. Teachers may not administer the post F and P to their own students and the time frame for administration is shorter. Another scheduling nightmare. Grades four and five also have a pre and post-Performance Assessment as their MOSL. More time out of the classroom for grading. I am thankful we have good substitute teachers.
In case you haven’t had enough, mix in the Grade Four NYS Science assessment, one day written and three days to set up and administer the performance part. Last but not least, we have been chosen to give a field test in June. Lucky us!
In spite of, not because of all this, our students will be “college and career” and world ready. They will be ready because our teachers and staff take the time, each and every day, including testing days, to speak to our students, listen to our students, to expose them to the beautiful, amazing world around us, to take them beyond their little world, to teach them about art and music and the importance of giving back to the community. Never underestimate the power of a hand gently placed on a student’s shoulder. Never take for granted the power of your words in the mind of a child. For some of our students we may be the only person who has spoken to them that day. I am so grateful and humbled to be your principal. Know that you and the work that you do is immensely important. Every day at our school is Teacher Appreciation Day. Thank you for all you do.
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