First off, I hate state testing. For a teacher who has recently diagnosed himself with a slight case of ADHD pacing the classroom for 115 minutes is absolute torture! However, I did get some good news this week in relation to state testing. Pardon my bragging, but brag I must!
I was on a recent rant about state testing, judging student's actual ability, and my skills as a conveyor of skills. Somehow I mentioned that I may not be the best at instructing the specific skills my students need as readers. My principal then interrupted me and told the following story.
She was recently called to central office to discuss the way my school has been performing on the state test. It seems someone had organized the results by grade level and gender. My principal, probably a bit nervous, asked what the concern was. Central office asked her why the boys in the 5th grade score as high, if not higher, than the girls in the grade level when all research states that their should be a significant difference between the scores of both genders and they are seeing those difference in other elementary schools in the district. When my principal looked at the names of those students, they were mostly my former students. (YEAH!)
My principal, who has a gift with words, stated (and I am paraphrasing here) that these results could be based on 5th grade boys that are put in a positive environment with a positive male influence who not only teaches reading, but makes reading come alive. The administrator asked "how". My principal began to talk about the way I teach, my teaching approach and philosophy, the authentic and engaging literature (think Harry and Hunger Games), the lunch time and summer book clubs. My principal left with quite some bounce in her step and, I have some bounce in mine as well. :0)
The best part of all this (besides my students accomplishments) is that I do not conduct any test prep what-so-ever in a school where some teachers test prep from day one! Kelly always loved how I never conduct one writing prompt, not one all year math review packet, not one test prep reading-NOTHING! I just TEACH!
It is nice to know that results can be attained without caving in to the pressure to "teach the test".