How Would Your Classroom Be Different?

THINKING OUT LOUD
Episode 009

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Clif Mims

Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

4 thoughts on “How Would Your Classroom Be Different?”

  1. If I didnt have to use testing during the particular periods that are scheduled for testing for MCS, I feel that I would get alot more done and the students would learn more. When we have to focus on test material, that takes time off of what the studenst may or may not fully understand of grasp, because more time is spend on test material than on what other material that they also need to know

  2. Thanks for responding, Clif. As important as assessment is, it’s being overdone and improperly used to the point of damaging itself and education in general. So these are important questions to ask.

    I shared your question with my graduate students, most of whom are in-practice teachers. Here in NY, we’re just finishing up the testing season, so they were ripe for some discussion. There were two points that came out of the discussion:

    First, teachers felt they could use the testing time to “do fun stuff” with the curriculum. I sensed (though perhaps through my own bias) that it was an issue of locus of control: Teachers feel they *should* teach in a more engaging fashion, but they assign responsibility for *not* doing so to the time the state takes for its testing.

    On the other hand, the second comment showed that the state’s testing policy can have a major negative impact on the teaching. In previous years the state was worried about putting too many tests in the same two weeks, so they scheduled the math tests in March. You can imagine how hard it was for math teachers to get through nine months’ curriculum in seven months. This year was the first time the state administered the math tests in May, and the math teachers in my class said they noticed a big difference all year.

  3. I would find it odd that an AP teacher would complain about the AP exam – a voluntary assessment to which the course must be aligned (per the College Board), or you can’t call it “AP.” That would be like the basketball coach complaining that his students have to take time out of practicing to play a game.

    On the other hand, there is a legitimate complaint about redundancy. If a student gets a 5 on the AP, why do they have to take the state’s tests?

    On testing in general, Nitko & Brookhart’s excellent assessment text puts it best: “You don’t fatten a calf by weighing it.” Even though assessment in some form is an integral component of effective education, instruction is the cornerstone. There must be some time allowed for assessment (and the state has the authority to dictate that time), but you can have too much.

    I wouldn’t ask teachers what they would do with time testing time, but how much testing time do they think is appropriate.

    1. Jeremy,

      You’ve made several ggod points. Let me clarify that I don’t recall AP teachers complaining about AP exams. Rather I think it was other teachers that were impacted by the testing that were making the comments. Thanks for helping me clarify this.

      I’m glad you referred to this text. It’s a good read. I don’t recall this particular quote but I’m going to look for it when I return to my office. It’s a picturesque way to describe some important elements of this topic.

      Rest assured that I believe assessment and evaluation are important to quality education and am not advocating for their complete removal with this post. I like the question that you pose at the end. It is perhaps a more balanced way of approaching the topic than my question is.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jeremy.

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