Mr. Cole's MessageDear Parents,
Happy March! I am looking forward to longer days of sunlight, warmer weather and outdoor activities!
The start of spring this month also brings us closer to the season in schools for State testing. Later this month we begin computer based testing for ELA in third and fourth grades. Each grade level will do two days of ELA testing. Following this month, the third and fourth grades will then take the computer based State exams for math. And later in the spring semester the fourth grade students will take a written and performance based State science exam.
While the topic of State testing has historically been politically charged, a number of factors have changed over the years to make the State exams not quite so daunting or unpopular. The results of State testing are no longer used for evaluation of teachers and staff. Nor are they used as a promotion or retention factor. In other words, the State exams are not qualifying exams of grade level placement for students or for continued employment for adults.
The construct of the exams are also shifting. Being computer based, the exams are falling into the familiar mode of students being “plugged in”. Whether students are on an IPad, a notebook or a smartphone…being plugged into technology is their forte it seems. Thus, testing them in that mode seems to be an appropriate move.
Also, the actual framework of the test and the constraints surrounding administration of exams has also changed. Each grade level now only does two days of testing for each content area instead of three. Another change is that the tests are untimed to eliminate the students’ worry factor of completing the exams. Across my tenure as a principal, I have gradually seen the readability level of the tests come more into alignment with the developmental reading level of our students, making them much friendlier then in decades past.
Taking tests on computers is nothing new to our students. Students here are provided a laptop (yes, even kin-dergarten next year!) so they become accustomed to utilizing software to interact and respond to academic ac-tivities. The tests give the students an intellectual stadium to demonstrate the incredible cognitive and academic skills that they have worked on for years.
Please be sure to cheer your children on to try their hardest on the test and do their best work.