The end of spring break marks only a few weeks before the end of the academic year and the start of summer vacation. But boy, are those few weeks packed! The time between the end of spring break and the last day of school is a whirlwind of events from end of the year celebrations and events to summative tests. After a long year, we are all ready for the long awaited summer vacation, but the last quarter of the academic year is time to gear up and finish strong instead of winding down.
The last quarter of the academic year, primarily May and June, is packed with testing. There are so many tests — Smarter Balanced Assessments, CAASPP, CAST, SAT, ACT, AP exams, and Lexile to name a few.
I have a love hate relationship with testing season. I appreciate the data that comes from some of these tests that inform me about my students’ mastery of content and skills as well as areas of growth. These tests provide students the opportunity to prove what they have learned over the course of the academic year and the growth they have made. This data can help improve my teaching practice for the next year, inform me about where my new incoming students are at academically, and celebrate my current students’ successes.
But, there are so many tests. Students spend their days silently sitting in rows of evenly spaced desks in classrooms with all of the bulletin boards and student work covered with butcher paper taking exams. These exams are not easy as students are presented with challenging questions and texts and are asked to synthesize, solve, interpret, and justify. Testing fatigue is real, and as the season progresses, students become increasingly more tired, frustrated and burnt out. As a teacher and a proctor, all I can do is encourage my students to work hard and try their best in hopes that the accumulation of all of their hard work from the year will pay off. I want them to try their best because these tests are high stakes and many impact either their entrance into college, whether or not they will be placed in remedial courses, or whether they will earn college credit for a course. This is the part that I hate about testing. Besides having so many tests, the result of each test is so important with the score of each exam reflecting a year or the accumulation of twelve years of learning. Unfortunately, there is no way of getting around taking these tests as the end of the year testing season has just become a part of being in school.
So as testing season quickly approaches, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Take one test at a time. Testing season is like a marathon not a sprint. You have been preparing all year for this moment so take the opportunity to prove what you can do.
- Be prepared. You have done all of the academic preparation throughout the year, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Get a good night’s sleep, and eat a balanced breakfast so you’re ready to conquer the test.
- Have some compassion. Testing season is rough on everyone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once all of the testing is over, it is time to enjoy the well earned summer vacation.
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