Take the state assessment seriously or …

Thoughts on the message below? Motivating or punitive? Celebratory or disenfranchising? Meaningful choice or duress? What do you think?

As a celebration for students working hard on Iowa Assessments, we are taking all 6-8 graders who showed improvement or evidence of effort to Perfect Games.

The schedule is listed below. All students will start their day at the middle school and either go to Perfect Games from 10-12 or 12:30-2:30. They will be able to bowl or play laser tag and relax and interact with their friends. We will return to the school to eat school lunch. Students may bring extra money to purchase snacks or play additional games, however this is not necessary, and large amounts of money should NOT be brought.

Those who attend Perfect Games in the morning will have classes/support/work time in the afternoon. Those who go to Perfect Games in the afternoon will have that structured time in the morning. (It is not a half day off and attendance will be counted.)

The vast majority of our students did as we expected, putting effort into assessments and showing growth. The very small number of students who didn’t take the test seriously have been notified or will be notified by this Wednesday that they won’t be attending. Parents will also be contacted if their child has not earned this privilege.

Please let the main office know if you do not want your child to participate in this activity.

Thursday, May 8: 8th grade Perfect Games day

Monday, May 12: 7th grade Perfect Games day

Tuesday, May 13: 6th grade Perfect Games day

14 Responses to “Take the state assessment seriously or …”

  1. How do you measure “evidence of effort”?

  2. its bribery and it is another example of why the data is tainted. There is this assumption that state test data is objective. Its a myth which not enough people talk about it

  3. It’s worse than punitive. Public humiliation of students (because everyone will know who doesn’t get to attend the outing) should never be a part of school.

    It’s a juvenile power play — “that’ll show ‘em” attitude. Whoever thought this was a good idea is in serious need of some Alfie Kohn.

  4. I agree with John Kain. How do you determine who took it seriously? Not showing growth could be an indication of the quality of core instruction. It could be an indication that the student has been having a rough time at home or wasn’t feeling good. It is a snapshot; a small sampling of what the student is capable of. I have seen students NOT do well on tests but if you saw their daily work and projects, you would be in awe!! I personally feel that there IS good information to be drawn from testing but the amount of testing and the way they are being used to grade schools, students, and teachers is ridiculous!! Just my humble opinion.

  5. This is especially disconcerting for students with text anxiety or learning disabilities. Students with test anxiety already place inordinate amounts of pressure on themselves when it comes to tests. They don’t need authority figures holding some kind of “reward” over their heads on top of it all.

  6. As a parent, this saddens me that school personnel feel like they need to resort to this sort of activity to make sure kids do their best work on high-stakes tests. As a school administrator, I get it.

  7. Carol Teitelman Reply May 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

    As a parent, I would keep my child at home on “Perfect Games” day and encourage others to do so. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to read that all students turned down the trip as a statement that they value all of their classmates? Why give irrelevant rewards which subject the students who may need it most(for self esteem)to humiliation?

  8. I think this is actually abusive.I taught teachers in Iowa for a time. The fact that this is going in there, is very disconcerting to me.

  9. What??? Isn’t it discrimination of some kind to do this?? I could understand if the students presented some sort of behavior challenge, but this eliminates the kids who probably need to go for laser tag, etc., the most – those students who are already down on themselves because they think they are “stupid”, or those kids with IEPs, or those kids whose family situation might stink. What a way for a school district to acknowledge the testing situation!

  10. Those that are so against this type of reward: How do you propose districts motivate students to do their best on standardized tests?
    Those who would blame lack of being able to participate on the teacher: If the vast majority of students showed improvement, it’s not a teaching issue.
    Those who are worried that there is no fair way to measure “effort”: If state testing does not measure improvement (which is the consequence of effort), then what is the point of the test in the first place? If the state tests are considered so reliable that they already have so much riding on them, what is the harm in giving students a possible positive outcome/reward beyond “yay, you passed the test”. Scores and grades are not an adequate source of motivation for most students.

    • Elizabeth,

      The problem I see is ARE the tests truly reliable. I personally don’t think they are. A student’s success is affected by so many other influences, how is one test a true indicator of what a child can do. On a side note, the state of Iowa has adopted the Common Core Standards….did you know that the Ia Assessments are not even aligned to the standards that we are expected to be teaching? Is a test valid and reliable if it isn’t aligned to instruction being provided? NO, it isn’t. Tell that to those people making the decisions about our children’s education…many of whom have never stepped into a classroom from the standpoint of an educator!!

    • Elizabeth,

      External motivation for students comes in the form of relationships and honesty. In my classroom it looks like this:

      “You guys know you have as much choice as possible in the activities, projects, and learning in this classroom. One of those times where neither of us has choice is on these standardized tests. I give my best effort every day in here, and I know you do as well. I hope that today is not an exception to that. Thanks!”

      We don’t need to reward “effort” or “improvement.” There are times where it’s worth noting — “Nice, last year your score was X and this year it’s X +10!” — but that’s the extent of the recognition that this single test score should be given.

      We should be celebrating when these externally mandated tests are over. That’s it.

  11. (warning: sarcasm) This is a great idea and I think that the same should be applied to teachers / administrators. Only teachers / administrators who pass my “give a damn” test will be part of the “earn a paycheck” day. I’ll be sure to make my test objective, you can trust me because I told you that you could trust me.

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