Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ISAT Tests

I was listening in on a teacher conversation the other day. They were discussing ways to improve their school.

"Did you see the book Measuring Up? Its better than Buckle Down. They have examples on the first page then practice, then short answer, short answer, short answer, short answer, and extended response. ... If they are going to judge us on how well we do on the ISAT then this is the book we should be teaching."

I tried to hide my horrified expression. I love the student centered curriculum the district bought, but everyone is so worried about ISATs they barely use it. I was hoping that after the big test we might actually have some fun teaching instead of struggling to maintain control while the students are being bored to tears. Thankfully just a bit later another teacher brought up what will happen after ISATs.

"You should have seen X's face when she came in my room today. It looked like we were cleaning up after a project and she looked so disappointed. 'You did a project without me?' We didn't of course, but in two weeks ISAT's will be over and we can do fun projects. This book has a great unit on data and the end project really demonstrates the concepts."

Being in the classroom, but not teaching I think gives me an ability to see when the students are getting it and when they aren't. Of course I might just be imagining what I see. Mostly what I see are students who aren't being challenged and start to devise ways of distracting the teacher or other students without actually getting in trouble. It doesn't happen all the time and certainly there are students who are completely lost, but too often I see students just trying to keep entertained.

Often I'm surprised by students. I sometimes get the idea from the teacher that this student or that one might need more practice, but when I go over to help it's either they have no clue at all or they find it too easy. Almost never are the drill sheets right on the developmental level of the student.

As I move around the room I wonder is there any learning going on? Perhaps the ISAT scores might go up, but still 'Is there any learning going on?'

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