Test Prep in a Renewal School
WNYC has a nice audio piece on test prep done right, in a renewal school. The renewal school seems to understand that testing results are a function of how well they teach all year long. They are using, though they don’t use this term, “formative” assessments to understand where they are weak and then giving extra attention to these areas as parts of their normal class activities. They aren’t, by design, “drilling and killing” even though their renewal school could be taken away from the city school district if their perfectly terrible results don’t improve.
One of the core problems with “summative” assessments that summarize what students have and have not learned, is that the results of the tests frequently aren’t given back to the school in time for them to do anything with the results until the next year. So these summative assessments give only a retrospective look back at how well the kids learned the material.
There’s an interesting (well, at least to me) philosophical argument here. In life, proponents of strength based management such as Marcus Buckingham argue, we would do much better to work on the areas in which we are strong and figure out how to manage around our weaknesses. If we focus on our weaknesses, Buckingham rightly says, we can go from being horrible at something to merely terrible. But if we focus on our strengths, we will have a much better time, a lot more energy and can go from good to great. And the real world is interested in greatness.
In testing, working on weaknesses is a rational strategy because mediocre counts when it comes to test results; the middle school in question wouldn’t be in the Renewal program is they were merely mediocre. Further, folks need some basic level of language arts, math, science and artistic literacy to be contributing members of society. But doing stuff that you aren’t good at is a set up for lack of energy, acting out by teenagers and general lack of success.
Jared Gellert is the Executive Director for CITE.
CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education . For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train TEACHERS (Early Childhood, Professional Certification, Special Ed, Grad Courses, DASA); COUNSELORS (School, Mental Health Masters, Advanced Certificate); and ADMINISTRATORS (SBL, SDL, Public Admin, Doctorate) in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, and Long Island.
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