Kindergarten teacher’s fear: Testing my students into failure

Reblogged from the Answer Sheet by Valerie Strauss

Robyn Noble is a public school kindergarten teacher in Providence, R.I., who has become alarmed at the excessive standardized testing of young children, as well as the design of the exams and what is — and is not — done with the results. Noble sent me an e-mail saying that her students will soon be taking the Star Early Literary Test and explaining what she thinks about the exercise.

The Star Early Literary Test, according to the Renaissance Learning Web site, assesses “eight key domains of early literacy and numeracy.” The eight domains are print concepts, vocabulary acquisition and use, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement and data. The Web site says that “145 skills are grouped into 32 closely-related skill areas” and that “the domains and skills below are grouped into three major areas that relate to CCSS standards.” CCSS refers to the Common Core State Standards (and it is worth noting here that many early childhood education experts have expressed concerns that the standards for the youngest students are not developmentally appropriate).

[Report: Requiring kindergartners to read — which Common Core does — may harm some]

Here’s what Noble wrote in her e-mail, which I am publishing with her permission:

My kindergartners will take this test on Tuesday, their 15th day of school. I’m sure most of them will score at the bottom of the scale since this uses vocabulary they have never heard before: beginning sound, vowel sound; and words which they have no idea how to read. The math pictures are difficult for even me to decipher. The directions on how to take the test, using the keyboard or mouse are also quite confusing. My students have grown up on touch screens, so the return to the mouse, I’m sure, will be baffling.

I will learn a lot more about my students as I watch them take the test, than I will from their test scores.

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