Please excuse my class from test prep

Dear Principal:

Please excuse my class from test prep this month. Between today and the NYS ELA Assessment in January are a two week school recess, a possible snow storm, and lots of celebrating. Rather than giving my students another practice test which is driving us all batty, We're going to go to 25 Days to Make a Difference and have a conversation about the theme of the project (Standard 4.R.2.18: Use specific evidence from stories to identify theme - a skill directly assessed every year on the Grade 4 assessment).

We may read Laura's list of suggestions and decide what makes the most sense for each of us (Standard 4.R.3.14: Analyze ideas and information on the basis of prior knowledge and personal experience) and leave comments (Standard 2-4.CPI.W.14: Develop an idea within a brief text) or perhaps join a community of students and adults dedicated to this simple yet eloquent idea.

I hope this note provides examples of some of the ways I will prepare my students to demonstrate mastery of the NYS English Language Arts Standards (as assessed by one test, given on one day) without donating our learning time to test prep. I promise that I'll spend the six days before the test teaching them the rules of the test and how to put their best foot forward. I assure you they'll get their fill of test prep but right now, at this moment, when our country and world are so ready for change, I'd rather donate our learning time to making a difference.

A 4th grade teacher


Kate said...

THis is and AWESOME post! I commend you on showing how simple it is to attach a standard to something that we ask kids to do that is relevant to their own lives but, sadly, that does not seem to fall under the idea of "test prep." Gosh, I must have said this a hundred times this week: we must begin to understand that it is not about the test; rather, it is about the skills and standards embedded in the test. Thank you for this post!

joe damato said...

Great post! I can only echo Kate's words. Everyone is anxious about the test and wants to show great results.

My words to the teachers is to stay the course, and teach the children the skills needed to succeed. It will come.

Carol W. said...

I love this letter and I love the philosophy behind it.

Too bad that in many districts, this would get a teacher branded with insubordination...