Confessions of a Student Teacher: Standardized Testing

by Marina DeVino

At the very end of my semester student teaching, I was able to experience something that is very important in the world of education: standardized testing. Last week, seventh and eighth grade NJ ASK testing took place. To provide those students with the best testing conditions possible, sixth grade teachers and their students were removed from their classrooms in the mornings of the four days of testing. Instead, teachers were asked to prepare lessons that could be taught in the cafeteria, the auditorium, and the two gyms so students could receive adequate preparation before their own NJ ASK testing the following week.  The week outside of the classroom truly tested my flexibility and lesson planning skills and those of my cooperating teacher.

My cooperating teacher and I made photocopies well in advance and packed boxes full of supplies each afternoon before we were expected to teach outside of our classroom. Each morning we carried our boxes to our assigned location. The students seemed to be more agreeable to the new locations than we were. They were well behaved and were as attentive as sixth graders can be expected in a large setting with three other classes taking place. The teachers on my team and I agreed that teaching outside of the classroom was not as awful as we had anticipated. We taught our students lessons on 3D figures and volume. In the most difficult teaching location, the auditorium, we provided the students with logic problems to improve their math sense.

This week, it was the sixth grade’s turn for testing. My students were noticeably solemn when they went to the lockers Monday morning. I assured them that they were well prepared as I stood at my hallway post and they filed into their first period classes for testing. Even the teachers, who were administering the exams, seemed anxious. When testing ended and I was allowed to reenter the classrooms, they told me how easy the test was and that they finished most parts early. On the following days of testing, the students seemed much more relaxed when they went to their lockers. Each day they told me that the tests “weren’t that bad” and that even the math sections were easy (which they have their amazing math teachers to thank for!)

These past two weeks have given me a glimpse of the stress that testing week brings upon both students and teachers. I can recall the anxiety I felt on the days standardized tests were administered when I was a student, and I now know that it does not go away when you are the teacher. Administering standardized tests is one aspect of teaching that is not discussed in great detail in education classes, but as a math teacher this will play a significant role in my future evaluations. Even though I had to spend this week on hallway duty, this experience has prepared me for the numerous testing days I will have in the future.

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