Search me! :-) If you find it at Glass Half Full, it's all good!

Tweet Me! Tweet Me!

Follow Glass_Half_Full on Twitter

Thursday, April 12, 2012


As some of you who read me regularly know, I've mentioned the new standardized test, the STAAR test, that is being implemented into the Texas educational system this year - in replacement of the TAKS test.

People had issues with the TAKS test because they felt like the teachers had to basically spend half the school year 'teaching the test'. Although, the test was supposed to be an assessment of A) are the students learning and, B) are the teachers teaching and/or teaching the information effectively.

[NOTE: Teachers out there, this is just my understanding as a parent. I realize there are a lot of other factors at play within the reasoning and requirements of State Standardized Testing. And, this post is in no way any negative reflection of all that you do - because we truly need our good, dedicated, caring teachers.]

The TAKS test basically required the students to regurgitate what they had learned at particular levels within their education.

The STAAR test, from everything I've read, heard, learned, ease-dropped, etc, is more of a critical thinking type test. The children have to apply what they have learned, reason that knowledge, and implement it into 'figuring out' various problems, questions and scenarios = cognitive thinking.

This is great. Although, the teachers and everyone says 'we have NO IDEA what the actual test will be like'. I myself have researched online to find 'practice' test that may or may not be similar. I've also been directed to and have visited the New York Educational Site for Standardized testing as I've learned that our test in Texas is mirrored after the testing New York has already had implemented for the past few years. And, believe you me - I printed them out so my kids can have reviews/exercises to work on while we travel this summer. I don't want any brains going to mush...

What I've seen my kids bring home so far and the methods their teachers are using to guide them through their exercises seem appropriate. Although, many of them require three and four steps to mentally process before arriving at the final answer. And, I'm talking third grade here - not Junior High. Even I have to think them through, and weigh each step. I found myself silently working a test when I was subbing one day [4th grade] because the students had questions - I had to understand the process on each problem (this was math) so that I could help them 'think' on the right track without giving them the answer.

It was quite enlightening. [And, I realized I rely waaay to much on google and my calculator] :-P

With all of this STAAR this, and STAAR that, I realized last night that the kids are feeling the pressure. Lil'Gal brought this to my attention because she was crying last night at bedtime worried that 'if I don't do well on the STAAR test I'll fail third grade!' This is an A-A/B Honor roll child. This is a child who puts every effort forward to make the grade and is very hard on herself when she doesn't succeed to the level of accountability she holds for herself.

She received a 71 on the practice STAAR math test. Mind you, the teacher mentioned to me that the entire class failed it with exception of a couple - Lil'Gal and I'm guessing her friend who she studies with a lot is probably the one who made an 80 on it. SCARY. These two gals are the top in their class.

This year, the test 'doesn't count'. So, I guess we all should sit back with relief and just do our best and see what happens, right? Wrong. We've got to get it right this year so that next year we don't get smacked upside the head.

I did explain to Lil'Gal that this year it won't count against her. And, that the teachers aren't even sure exactly what the test will entail other than requiring more processed thinking skills and cognitive thinking = thinking out of the box and applying what is learned to new and different situations/problems.

I explained to her that this test THIS YEAR is testing the students knowledge as well as the teachers ability to prepare the students for this test. That is is a gauge in which to see where everyone is and how the educational system can best help everyone learn better. I explained that depending on how the scores come in the state can reevaluate the test for next year and provide better curriculum to prepare for it.

I know that sounds like a lot to explain to an almost 9 year old - but, she got it and her anxiety level came down a bit. And, she was able to think about happy thoughts and finally go to sleep. Pondering on this last night I thought back to my childhood. We think our kids are just kids but they have a lot going on in those minds of theirs. I remember the stress and anxiety I had at that age wanting to make THE GRADE.

So, I've reminded myself. While I need to impress the importance of making The Grade I also need to be aware and compassionate of the effort my children are putting into it and praise them for those efforts more. Not that I don't already. I guess last night just reopened my eyes to see the inside as well as the out.

Well, its time to feed those brains and bodies to prepare them for another day of learning so I best get off the LT. Hope you have a 'cognitive' Thursday!



Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

We were there when it was the TAAS, and kids were freaking out then! There is so much pressure on the Admin, which puts pressure on the teachers who, try as they might to keep it from the kids, pass it on to the students. Jobs are on the line, schools are on the line, and it is a vicious cycle. I'm glad it no longer feels like a regurgitated system (I hated feeling like everyone was "teaching to the test").
Even way back when my oldest was a 3rd grader, honor students worried over it all. Hope Lil'Gal soon relaxes and realizes that she will be just fine. :)

Melissa said...

I don't like tests in which students simply regurgitate answers, but some of those critical thinking questions are HARD (especially for someone like Jake, who is easily overwhelmed by multi-step problems). We have our big math and English tests next week (right after Spring Break - Who's the braniac who thought that would be smart?!). I am *very* anxious about how he'll do.

Michèle Hastings said...

I have never been a fan of standardized testing... not even the SAT's. There are too many really good students who get too nervous and don't do well on those kinds of tests. In most cases they are a poor indicator of successful learning.

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

Michele, agreed. In fact, I contacted FJ's librarian to provide me with copies of his AR and reading assessment test scores. He had just retaken the STAR (a different STAR test) which measures his improvement from the beginning of the year to the end.

She and I both know from his outstanding reading (she knows the scores of every student on campus and he is #2 out of the entire 4th grade of about 200 students, blowing the other 198 out of the water on AR) and that stupid test didn't show accurately the level we know he is at.

So, knowing the evaluation we are going for and knowing he is at about a 5th grade reading level and has read higher level books she is providing another print out for the specialist; although, maybe this will further help demonstrate that the tests are a true assessment of his knowledge and abilities. *sigh*

I love our teachers and librarians though - they are on the parent and student's side. *heart* them!

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

That the tests ARE NOT a true assessment, is what I meant.