With the Common Core Standards, we — that means teachers — are bracing for new and improved standardized testing. An article in the Boston Globe this morning (link here) floats the idea. MCAS may or may not be replaced by a new Common Core test, presumably aligned to the new standards.
If you read the story, take a close look at Paragraph 4. Yes indeed, the vision for the new test is that all students will take the test electronically. Ponder that for a minute, does anyone else see a problem?
I teach third graders. I know younger people do not have the same adjustment to reading directly from a computer, but developmentally speaking, I just don’t see 8 and 9 year olds being able to focus on a screen, read the test, scroll around, scroll to the question, in a perfect world scroll back to check for accuracy of the answer chosen, click, and repeat ad nauseum. And that’s just a reading based test. Let’s talk about math. I’m picturing lots of guessing because using a scrap paper to figure something out accurately will be too much. Eye-hand coordination issues? Tough darts.
So that’s just the developmental/mechanical issue. I suppose that the expectation might be that teachers practice the mechanics of electronic test taking. So now we should teach taking the test?
Then there’s logistics. I have one aging iMac in my classroom, 2 if you count the one I use for personal work and to connect for demonstrations for the larger group. So with a classroom of 24 student – normal for my district – I can accommodate 2 students at a time while the rest of the class does….. what? We have a lab – without an Instructional Technology Specialist this year due to budget cutting. Now one entire classroom of students could take the test at a sitting, but they are right on top of each other. And we have 8 classroom vying for computer time – 4 thirds and 4 fourth grades.
Don’t even begin to think about technology failures. ALL of the equipment, even the latest and greatest in the lab, is subject to failure: network, electronic, power. I believe there is ONE network guru for the entire system’s multiple elementary schools. So when the system goes, or as happened yesterday, equipment is slowed to the point that a screen refresh takes 60+ seconds, that won’t affect the testing?
Keep reading this article and you’ll probably discover more. The Commissioner of Education also floats the thought that the new Common Core exams could be used to progress monitor student achievement in addition to MCAS.
Maybe the first and second grade teachers won’t mind taking over the third grade curriculum so we can get all this testing accomplished?