Great Anticipation

No, I am not talking about anticipating the ketchup coming out of the bottle as in the tv commercial with the “Anticipation” song playing in the background. I am referring to this time period of anticipating the results of the state testing scores from last week. Although I am not teaching in a classroom, I still feel the stress, pressure and anticipation for the release of scores for the students I worked with on a frequent basis. Being an experienced teacher I was asked to step in last year and teach writing to a struggling teacher’s class. The scores on benchmark tests were an average of 44% passing. After six weeks of intensive writing instruction an hour a day, those same students scored an 85% passing rate on TAKS. That was a major accomplishment. In Texas, third and fifth graders along with the newly implement eighth graders, reading and math TAKS tests must be passed. Students are allowed to take the test three times to try to pass.

Last school year we started a math rotation and for two hours a day providing intensive instruction to the fifth grade students that missed the mark the first time around. Suddenly, participation in math activities and lessons became real important and relevant to the 20 or so students as they didn’t want to be left behind in fifth grade again while their buddies went on to middle school. As grueling as the rotations were, 12 out of 20 made it the second time around. My experience and being a national board certitied teacher prepared me to be able to step in and provide assistance planning, assessing, and preparing lessons that were meaningful and relevant by going back to the basics starting with the place value chart. We had three weeks to work with the 20 students which was daunting when we realized the students were not successful as they didn’t have the basic skills such as knowing the place value chart and performing multi step math problems. We taught math and worked on math times tables before school, several hours of rotations each day, tutoring at lunch and after school and any opportunity that afforded a math lesson. I am quite sure the students stepped it up to pass not just to go to middle school but to get away from the team of us hounding them about math computations, problem solving, math kickball, math facts before going to the bathroom, and much more math ‘fun’!

When I first left the classroom a few years back to become a campus instructional technologist and the campus scores were released I felt totally left out. Although I worked with students and helped prepare them for TAKS, teachers were celebrating with ‘their’ classes. I went through the same anticipation of waiting for the scores and I realize that my name isn’t on the line as much as the classroom teacher’s is. This one test on one day, except for the testers taking math or reading at grade levels that require passing before moving to the next grade level (third and fifth grade) determines the rating of the student, class, teacher and campus administration. The powers that be say otherwise but we all know high stakes testing is the only indicator of the level of achievement of a teacher’s class of students.

Although the waiting time for results has shortened, I still feel a twinge and hope that student A followed the campus reading or math process and did student B focus on the details of the reading passages. I could go on and on. So while I don’t have an official class of record, I still wait with great anticipation for the release of the campus scores. In Texas, no one is immune from the world of testing. Now ‘real teaching’ can take place that is fun, interactive and meaningful without mutiple choice answers on an answer document to complete until the school year ends. Then we start the test preparation next August and repeat this cycle again. Oh the anticipation of it all!


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