>Testing, Testing

>Yesterday was yet another day of emotions running high as students got their OGT scores back.  I actually knew scores were up the night before, and I hurried to check up on some of my juniors and seniors from first semester.  One of my girls who had worked really hard since the beginning of the year and was only 2 points off in October knocked it out of the park with an increase of almost 25 points. But there weren’t as many triumphant fist pumps as there were heartbreakingly close not-quite-theres.  I only saw one of my seniors who didn’t pass yesterday, and he understandably looked less than thrilled.

My sophomores were also keen to know their scores, and anxiety was high all around, even in students that I knew would have no trouble passing. I incredulously asked one student, who is bright as day but took the OGT while serving time in the juvenile detention center, “Did you really think you weren’t going to pass?  Why???”  And he exclaimed, “I took the test in jail!” as if that explained everything.  I am still trying to understand what it is that trips up so many of our otherwise very intelligent kids, and I wonder if a fair part of it is not test anxiety.  One would think that might not be as big of an issue now that students are used to testing from third grade onwards.  On the other hand, I can only imagine what nine years of academic “failure” can do to a child’s confidence.  Add to that the punitive consequences of behavioral choices (many of which are administered by the school system) and you have kids who do not believe in themselves, and possibly teachers and administrators who don’t believe in them either.  It’s a vicious cycle based in the culture, and I am honestly not fresh-faced and bushy-tailed enough to think I can change that completely, but it does give me some “implications for instruction” to think about, to use educational parlance.

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