While April means many things, for schools in Michigan, it also means the beginning of state testing. As a public charter school, we are required to participate in all of the regular assessments that other public schools are expected to take, and our scores, among other factors, are used to give our school a rating. For the last two years, our school has earned a lime green rating on our Accountability Scorecard, which is great! There’s only color above that, so that means that we’re doing our job!
But, how do we make this happen? Do we teach to the test?
The answer would be yes, and no. It has always been our belief that if we teach well, and students are learning, they will test well. Our focus is on making sure that we are planning an education that is well rounded and meaningful for your children, and that we are teaching to the best of our abilities!
We know testing is a part of life, and we want students to do well; we want them to be prepared. Depending on the grade level, this may mean we show students examples of test questions, or let them practice moving through a test sample in the online testing program, prior to taking the assessment. It may also mean that we are explicit with students about what is important on the assessments, and explain how that may be different than what they see in a classroom. As an English teacher, I can verify that the type of writing that is considered excellent on an assessment isn’t necessarily the same as what I am looking for in the classroom. Explaining the difference is helpful.
Preparing students for a test, however, does not mean that we spend day in and day out prepping students, and that the test is the focus of what and how we teach. While their scores are important, they aren’t everything, and it’s important that students know that too! When I see our students on stage, or signing up for all school sharing for the first time, and supporting each other, these are all things that a test score won’t show, but I think they are stronger indicators of “success”. In fact, our last school wide sharing was mostly elementary students, and one thing that continues to amaze me is that the high schoolers were cheering and encouraging them just as much as if it was their best friend. That’s what we’re focused on; developing children as a whole person, not just the number that appears on their score report.
Testing can cause anxiety for students and parents as well, but it shouldn’t. We encourage everyone to do their best, but it shouldn’t define you. Whole people are more than a test score. Whole people are good, and funny, and have their own personalities. They are so much more!
So in getting ready for upcoming testing, here’s how you can help make sure your student is ready, and the answers are as simple as the things that should happen every day:
1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
2. Make sure your child gets a good breakfast.
3. Encourage them, and try to calm any fears or anxiety they have.
4. Love them!
5. If there’s time, plan some relaxing fun things for the family to do, or include friends. Card games, taking a walk outside, or watching a movie together can do wonders!
That’s it. That’s my professional advice. If you have any questions about upcoming assessments, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend–it looks like spring weather is finally here!
Concord Academy Boyne