CST Test Preparation, Mixed Messages, and Landscaping

I really enjoyed drawing this sequence. Now, roughly one month before the CST Multiple Choice, Administration is in a “suicide overdrive” to create test awareness among the students, and prepare them for the test. Much of this test preparation surrounds “test taking strategies.” This is meta gaming the exam, looking at it as a way of increasing the probability attached to a guess. For instance, the idea of eliminating “two clearly bad answers,” to raise your guess from a 25 percent chance to a fifty percent chance.

That’s good advice, sure…but this is school, not gambling. Why are we encouraging guessing at all? Shouldn’t we be encouraging the process of thinking, and teaching the kinds of things that are often on such tests, since they are supposed to be based on the curriculum? If students know the answers, they don’t have to guess. Teaching them facts, and how to think…that’s supposed to be my job.

It seems on some disturbing level like an almost quiet form of disrespect for the abilities of the students. Fact…students may come in, at the beginning of the year, weak in the content. However…it is my job, explicitly, to make them strong in tht content. Meaning that I have to stop looking at what they can’t do, and start dealing with what they will try, and turn that into a “can do.”

Is that easy? Sure it isn’t. But in twenty years, no one will care what their seventh grade CST score was. In twenty years, I’ll have a group of people applying for credit cards, home loans, car loans, or trying to get legal advice. Shouldn’t I be working on developing a thinking intellectual, that can handle those problems?

Regardless, order are order, and I am diligently preparing my students for examinations.

In a related note, I am in the process, as is the school, of giving a District Standardized Test, the Periodic Assessment. It is an essay test, comparing the theme of two passages, and proving that they have in fact, a recurring theme in common. Abstract thinking for a Seventh Grader. Not as high stakes as the CST, but the school is judged by them.

You would think, then, that we would not schedule loud, disruptive sounding landscaping services to be done during class time, when students might need to concentrate their efforts. I would think.

I would think wrong. For about the last day, I have been on a tear about this, my general slogan being, “Call me when we get serious. Call me when we are about teaching again.”

That’s the news from the trenches, True Believers.

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