It’s That Time of Year: Standardized Tests Galore
Today you are taking your SOL state standardized tests. I know that you are worried, nervous, and anxious to get them over with. The teachers and administrators and parents talk about these tests all year long, and I know you’ve been listening. Now here we are, mere hours from the time you will sit down in front of a computer for 2 + hours and demonstrate to the Commonwealth of Virginia everything you can remember about all 19 math standards, 7 science standards, 10 History standards, and and gazillion ELA standards that have been taught to you over the last 9 months.
You will be asked to read passages of text that will be, for some of you, three grade levels above what you can independently comprehend. Followed by questions that will involve multi-step problem solving and inferencing skills that I have just begun to see emerge in some of you. For the 50% of my class with ADD or ADHD, I pray that you can remember the strategies that I have taught you as you battle your ever-firing neurons to focus on the assessment in front of you. You guys may as well be taking two tests at once.
To those of you with dyslexia and decoding weaknesses, I am so sorry that I cannot provide the support you need to help you during this test. I know if I just helped you pronounce that ONE WORD, you would completely understand what they are asking you, but you know that I cannot do that on standardized tests.
Please know how much that kills me. I want so badly to help.
Dear Students, we have talked all year about Fair vs. Equal, and this is one of those times that we are all EQUAL. We don’t all learn the same way, but we are tested the same way. Is that fair? If you ask me, no. I, however, didn’t get a say in the administration of these standardized tests. This is a good example of how life works though, which often, is NOT FAIR.
But we are nothing if not flexible, right? Sometimes, we have to go with the flow. This is one of those times, and we’ve got this.
Let me tell you a secret.
The SOL’s think that they are testing EVERYTHING you have learned all year, but when you look at your scores, please know that they are only testing about 20% of what you have learned. Only 20%! Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But, let me recap what you have learned this year and I’ll prove it:
You Have Learned that You Have Every Reason to be Confident
You have worked incredibly hard this year to learn some difficult material. Those of you who used to answer questions with a question because you weren’t sure of your answer, are now proudly shouting your opinions! Many of you never even raised your hands at first and now I see you volunteering for everything. And you should be! You guys have learned a lot and should take pride in that.
You Learned How to Make New Friends
You have learned how to navigate the social world that is forever changing around you. It is a challenge to accept new people into your circle of friends, but you guys make it look easy.
You’ve Learned to Trust Yourself
You know that you can figure it out. You know that if you take the time, you can find any answer.
You have Learned Time Management
This is a hard one but everyone has improved! You ALL have shown better use of time at home AND at school. This skill will take you farther than any test score will.
You have Learned How to Ask For Help
It may sound easy, but I know from experience it is HARD to ask for help. It takes humility and honesty with yourself to realize and accept that you need assistance with something. You have all learned that it’s ok to ask for help, and HOW to ask to be most effective.
You Have Learned that You ARE a Strong Reader
Yup, you really are! The fact that you still read “below grade level” doesn’t discount the 4 grade level increase you made in one year. That, dear student, is the mark of a true, determined, and strong reader.
You Have Learned How to Be Better at Math Than You Thought!
Admit it, you honestly thought that math was your “worst subject.” Turns out you were wrong, because you have learned what strategies you need to succeed, and how to use them effectively.
You Have Learned How to Respectfully Disagree
It is not easy to argue, but if you are going to have a debate you had better do it with respect! You have learned that even when you don’t agree, you can share your ideas and opinions without hurting anyone’s feelings.
- You Have Learned How to GIVE and Take Constructive Criticism
- You Have Learned How to Work in a Group
- You Have Learned How Important it is to Support Each Other
- You Have Learned How to Problem Solve
- You have Learned Responsibility (Financial and Personal)
- You Have Learned Accountability
AND… You learned Science, History, Math, and Language Arts. By my count, that is a total of 18 concepts that you learned this year.
Only those last 4 are tested.
These tests are important. They are important to the school, to the principals, to me, and to you and your parents. I know that you want to make us proud. I am not worried about your performance today, because you have made me proud all year long. Your score on this test will not change what I know about the other 78% of you. I have had the privilege of knowing ALL 100% of you this year, not just the 22% that can tell me about Math, Science, History and English.
I have taught you everything you need to know for these standardized tests, and you have learned all you are going to learn. Walk in there today and remember that everything you knew in my classroom is still in your head. Just take it slow and do your very best.
We’ve got this!
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