I have spent the last two days giving my students a district-mandated timed test. My students had 60 minutes (spread out over two days) to complete 20 in-depth math questions. If you're not a teacher, let me give you some background information here. The state of Texas will be giving a new standardized test this year, called the STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness). The test is going to be timed, so in preparation, our district has started timing the kids on various tests or assessments, so that they can get used to the pace that they are going to be required to work at on the future test. I totally agree with the decision to do this. If they're going to be timed on the standardized test, then we're going to need to help them build up their skills to be able to master that test.
So back to my venting. I have spent the last two days watching hard working 11 and 12 year olds read questions, underline and circle important information (strategies I really stress in class) and solve problems to the best of their ability. When I say they were hard working, I truly mean that they worked REALLY hard for the 60 minutes that they got. Did I have the occasional student doodling with a highlighter on their pencil or staring off into la-la land for a few minutes? Yes. But the majority of them really gave me 100% for the hour that they were working.
And despite their strong efforts, I had at least 40 kids (throughout the day) that were not able to complete their test. So now, I will get their results back and know that there not an accurate depiction of what my students are capable of. Needless to say, this does not make me happy. I hate that they worked so hard for that hour and will have nothing to show for it because they did get to finish. I hate that I had to pressure them throughout the testing time to "make sure they were keeping a good pace so that they would finish on time". I hate that there are kids that rushed through it for fear that they wouldn't finish in time. I hate that one of my students felt the need to apologize to me because she just couldn't finish it. **Side note - She was so sweet in her apology, and I assured her that it was in no way her fault that she didn't get to finish and that it was not going to impact her math grade.**
Don't you think our kids have enough pressures in their young lives, without having to worry about how fast they can solve math questions?? I just want to know who makes these crazy decisions. I know it's not a teacher, that's for sure...