My Worst Fears About Our Standardized Test Were Realized... :(

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by MMRbella, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Apr 8, 2008

    What a disaster. I've been stressing for months now over the standardized test that my district mandates for 1st grade.

    Yesterday, we did listening comprehension, and my kids rocked it. It was awesome.

    Today, they did reading comprehension, and it was a TRAGEDY. There are 4 questions that at least HALF of the class got wrong. I am confident that I am a good teacher... and I've been preparing my kids for the test for the past month (in addition to our regular activities, of course). However, I cannot help feeling like complete and total cr*p about this.

    Since September, I've been struggling to help these kids become fluent readers. I have the ENTIRE range of abilities-- for instance, I have students who got only 1 or 2 problems wrong, and then I have 2 children who seem to have gotten half of them wrong (23 total).

    Teaching is my LIFE. I stay until 6:00 pm almost every single day, sometimes later, even though children are dismissed at 3:05. My classroom is well managed, my observations are stellar, and the assessments that I provide my children are strong overall (though I do have quite a few low level readers).

    My head is telling me that I've done my best, and that it's not my fault. But my heart is worrying that I just didn't do good enough.

    The stress and grief is overwhelming me. It would be one thing if I didn't give teaching my all, but I really do!!! This is something I've wanted my ENTIRE life, and I've always been a successful person. This test is really depressing me... :(

    I know that giving standardized tests are NOT effective ways of measuring student ability, but I can't change the fact that I have to give them. And that a seasoned teacher in my grade is claiming almost of all of children got every single one correct. What am I doing wrong???

    Please, if you have to give your kids a standardized test and have any advice or words of wisdom for me-- or anything to make this awful situation seem... well, less awful, please, reply.

    I haven't felt this sad all year.
     
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  3. aek471

    aek471 Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2008

    Don't feel bad! The reason they didn't do well is because first graders simply are awful at taking standardized tests. It's hard for them to follow along (esp. the low level readers), they have little experience with it, and it's just overwhelming for them! Luckily I'm not mandated to do this, but I've given mine standardized-like tests just to see how they would do. Even my top readers stumble with it. It sounds like you go above and beyond every day. If you see progress with your kids and you can go home feeling good about the job you did today, then don't let a standardized test bring you down! Everyone knows how pointless those things are! :D
     
  4. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Apr 10, 2008

    Don't feel bad. I agree with aek471. Those kids of tests are hard and overwhelming for little ones. And reading comprehension is hard for many students to master.
     
  5. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Apr 10, 2008

    MMRbella,

    Bless your heart...:hugs:

    You did your best, don't let this ruin your health. Maintain balance in your life, working ALL the time is not what is best for you, nor for your students.

    If you're familiar with the Bell Curve you know that not everyone is going to be in the top 5%, it's just some people are going to be above average, average, and below. You can't make a kid what he isn't.

    Be sure you laugh as often as you cry, smile as often as you frown. If you've not taught many years you must find some way to go for the long haul. Education is a tough field, many outstanding teachers burn out before their time.

    I'm sure you know that your whole class has shown tremendous growth from the beginning of the year. Let that fact be your personal reward of a job well-done. That seasoned teacher may just be spouting off, or she may have paid her dues and have an elite class of parents (who have the Volvo effect kids) and have requested her because she has earned a strong reputation as being a dynamic teacher.

    I've been a cooperating teacher for many a little teacher and a State Mentor, too, and one of the first things I tell my new little teachers is to take good care of themselves. Get plenty of exercise, eat healthily, get some sunshine, and find laughter.

    Look forward to a peaceful summer. :hugs:
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Apr 10, 2008

    Bella,

    I have a piece of advice for you. While making teaching "your life" is admirable in many ways, you have to find a way to have a life, and be a teacher. Just like those parents who make their child "their life" end up not being well-rounded parents, and they don't have everything to give, we as teachers cannot make teaching our lives and expect to be happy in the long term.

    If you think about it, if someone told you "my three year old is my life! I spend every waking hour worrying about her, planning things for her to do, etc etc" wouldn't you want to tell that person that this is not best for the child? A parent who doesn't have her own life will not be the best parent possible for a child. If a woman said she made her husband "her life" wouldn't you tell her "get a grip!" or at least "get a life!" ?

    You are headed for a HUGE burnout if you don't focus more on yourself and your personal life, which in the end will make you a better teacher.

    As for the test.. you did your best... don't rehash every single thing...

    It is just a test.. it is not a life-or-death situation.

    While we'd like for all children to pass, those who don't still have a chance for a happy, healthy life. The test isn't the "be-all, tell-all" assessment for life.

    Good luck.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 10, 2008

    Rainstorm is totally correct. First graders don't test well in general, and if you are this upset over a single test, you're gonna be in deep trouble in a few years. You need to take a deep breath, relax, know you did your best job, and then go out there and do something for yourself.
     
  8. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    There is something really wrong when we start giving standardized tests to 1st graders.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I was thinking the same thing. WTH, these guys are little more than babies.
     
  10. Teach in Tampa

    Teach in Tampa Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2008

    I agree; however, I do think that's it's good practice for them. I don't know about other states but in Florida, these tests really begin to count in third grade. If they don't pass the standardized test, they aren't able to move up to 4th grade. I would hate for them to be exposed to the format for the first time, right when it's critical that they succeed on the test. I take the fact that they are just babies into consideration when reviewing my test results. I think that only my mature, focused students score well on the test and those students are few and far between in first grade.
     
  11. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    If passing grades on these exams are required for students in later grades, in order to be promoted to the next grade, then it is good that the younger students are being exposed to how the test are conducted. That said, I'm against standardized tests for any grade. let me rephrase my statement

    There is something really wrong when we start giving standardized tests.
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Apr 11, 2008

    If they are going to be given, it is good practice but sometimes they give too much of the full testing instead of gradually introducing certain types of testing styles. Counting them would be a crime.
     
  13. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Apr 11, 2008

    I'm sorry to see a truly dedicated teacher become totally stressed out over a stupid test.for first graders. Why aren't you congratulating yourself over the many children that did well?How do you know that the children that did not do well are not just 6 and 7 year olds who just got confused because they were given a test that just makes only the people who know nothing about education satisfied.A good test is one in which 50% score above the average and 50% below.A test in wich everyone score well or everyone does poorly is really a poor test.You have seen the progress these children have made over the full year,not just on one stupid examination. Don't make yourself miserable over this,that would be a real shame.
    By the way, have you actually gotten the final test results. In NYC the scores are usually much higher than they should be when they are finally released.I think we have become test crazy and forgot about educating our children.
     
  14. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Apr 11, 2008

    aww . . . I really hear you! I hate the testing because I know my little guys are way better than they test. And I feel like it is kinda brutal to pigeonhole a 6 year old who is doing his very best, progressing, and loving books, but just isn't developmentally ready to do the reading. Those little guys will get it, don't you worry.

    Here is what has helped me. I tell the kids and I tell myself, the test is just a tool so I know what I still have to teach to Johnny, and Susie, and Amy. Someone needs more help with the "ch" sound, someone else needs more work with "tion." The test data is usually graphed so you will know specifically what each kid needs still.

    Even though I keep telling myself this, there is a lot of pressure for the kids to perform! Thank goodness, I have an admin. who understands the kids, knows when there is a real problem, and when the kid is just not developmentally ready to score big on a test.

    Hang in there and don't listen to anyone, especially yourself, say that you are not a good teacher or that your kids are not fantastic. By third grade, those low testers will blend in just fine with everyone else.
     
  15. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Apr 11, 2008

    I give them to my kindergartners!:eek: I think it is VERY WRONG! I'd also like to say shame on that other teacher for discussing how all of her children did! She must be insecure if she needed to go to others bragging about it!:rolleyes:
     
  16. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I hear where you are coming from. I really do.

    But you know that they are not an accurate measure of what the students know. So please try very hard not to judge yourself over it.

    I used to get so worked up over the tests. (I teach K and we take standardized tests, too. :down:) But now I really don't care how they do. I really don't. Yes, I still do my best to prepare them for it. But they are INAPPROPRIATE and not worth my stress.
     
  17. Teach in Tampa

    Teach in Tampa Rookie

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    Air high five... kiss your brain :2up: I completely agree!!!
     
  18. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Apr 12, 2008

    Thanks everyone... I do feel much better about it all now. This is my first year teaching, and I do find myself being influenced by a certain seasoned teacher who likes to blow smoke.

    When I posted that message I was feeling really low. But I talked it over with my mentor, and I ended up taking a new perspective on it.

    I know in my heart in that I did do my best, and that most of my kids did their best too. It's just really hard when you have a veteran teacher telling you that there is "no reason why every child didn't get every question right... and that no matter how many low kids you have, you have to make it work".

    Make it work??? I DID make it work. Most of my children could not read at the beginning of the year, and now they can!!! Granted, some are more fluent than others. I'm sorry, but I don't think that a standardized test is a correct measure of abilities. :(

    I'm disappointed that I let her get to me like that... And I do realize that I do spend too much time on work, and not enough on play. However, this is my first year, and I'm willing to bet that most new teachers feel like that. (I probably should have mentioned that in my initial post).

    Anyway, thank you for reading, and giving me your thoughts. I agree with all of you, and I love the fact that I can come to this forum and receive support. :)
     
  19. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Apr 12, 2008

    If the children in any teacher's class all answer every question right there is either something wrong with the test or the way the test was given. Good luck in your teaching career.You are off to a great start.
     
  20. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Apr 12, 2008

    And I do realize that I do spend too much time on work, and not enough on play. However, this is my first year, and I'm willing to bet that most new teachers feel like that. (I probably should have mentioned that in my initial post).
    QUOTE]


    YES! I do. I'm a first year high school teacher! I figure that this year will be spent learning myself what I must teach them each year and how. Relearning some of the historical information (contrary to what kids think, I really DON'T know every point in history by memory). Once I get a good game plan-I'm working this summer on the powerpoint lectures etc..then it will be somewhat less stressful, in that department for me, from then on and I can concentrate on getting my classroom mgmt better (something I struggled with this year in one particular class)

    I do agree to not burn ourselves out though...
     
  21. kidsalot

    kidsalot Comrade

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    Apr 17, 2008

    Last week I gave standardized tests - 3 days! - to my kindergarteners!!! I can't believe I'm required to do this. My only advice is don't stress too much. It sounds like you did your best. They are just way too young.
     
  22. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Yes, if a teacher is bragging about her class -first of all, isn't that confidential information??

    Second of all, if all children are getting everything right, someone is telling them some of the answers, or changing the answers. I have been tempted myself to change an answer when I see a kid has answered right, then erased and answered wrong - I have to really draw upon my personal integrity! (no I don't change the answers either - I couldn't sleep if I did.)I know I am not the only one. That is my beef with standardized tests that are used for judging, and with NCLB standards - who is benefitting from the test results? The same person who is giving the test. Oh come on! How is that in any way a legitimate test result?
     
  23. LakeSophie

    LakeSophie Comrade

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    Apr 18, 2008

    A lot of pressure is put on 1st year teachers. I just had my principal lay into me for mistakes I made last year (my first year). I was recently told that I should have never passed 3 kids who are now failing his 2nd grade class. (not that he helped me any last year when I was struggling with the decision..) I know I did my best, and probably would make a different decision now.. what happened happened. All you can do is do your best. Don't let veteran teachers scare you that you aren't doing the best.
     
  24. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Haha! I agree HMM! There is something wrong with all standardized tests. Here in my school we tested our 1st and 2nd graders in just Reading because of our Reading First grant. However next year all schools in our district will test 1st and 2nd in all portions. It's just so wrong. I personally think in 1st and 2nd we have other things to be worried about this time of year instead of taking standardized tests. Since we do test in 3rd grade and up I think in lower grades they need practice with taking those tests but why can't we incorporate it into daily lessons instead of stressing over tests for weeks and then blocking off a week's worth of mornings?
     
  25. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Apr 19, 2008

    :sorry:
    Principals are great at passing the blame,finding scapegoats,and second guessing. They are not so great at making decisions when they are really needed.
     

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