Update about testing

My last post was a lengthy discourse on standardized testing and teaching.    I won’t summarize it here.  It was the last one I wrote so read it if you’re interested.

As a result of that writing and the workshop that inspired it, I decided to ignore what the presenter told us to do.  Instead, I decided to focus on teaching my kids to write and think better. I theorized that this would prepare them for the test and still be an education worth having.  I didn’t have to teach to the test.
So, besides the normal curriculum, I had the kids write essays that were based on the kind they might find on the exam.  I made sure to read and grade them quickly because they needed the feedback ASAP in order for it to be truly effective.  I also focused on pointing out what they did right on the essay instead of the mistakes.  
In addition, I gave them articles each week to practices close reading and to write a reflection.  This was to give them better vocabulary and grammar.  (Think about it.  In learning to speak, no one gave us grammar drills or vocabulary tests. We learned to speak by listening and imitating.)
So, how did my students do? I had 85% pass the CAHSEE.  I’ll take that.  I think if I had this philosophy from the beginning of the year, I might have passed better than 90%.  I will get a chance to find out. I’m going to teach Sophomores again this year, all five periods.  So, we’ll see.  (I can’t take all the credit as these kids had teachers prior to me.  But, I guarantee if my kids hadn’t done well, I would have gotten the blame, too.)

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