Time on Task III
As educators we know that the issue of how much time we spend in the classroom is important. In the last two posts, those concerns were explored in terms of what it means to loose a week of school for a family vacation. The posts discussed just what happens when a student misses a week of school – and the impacts can be profound.
One of my teacher friends, Mr. Jerry Martin, is fond of saying that “Time is the most valuable resource in schools. Use it wisely.” He is right – time is the resource that we spend unwisely, thinking it goes on forever.
Time on task for school students is also impacted by school sponsored events and programs. Assessment and testing programs take time to administer and while important can take time out of the classroom. We all recognize the need for good assessment, but it is time to question the impact of how much time is spent in assessment.
The current implementation of the Common Core testing programs are requiring up to ten days of testing time and school interruption time. Ten days of time is two weeks of school, and the article from England indicated that a single week of missed school could seriously impact a student’s learning – so what would be the impact of two week’s missed instruction?
Most schools have a 180 day school year. It is important to preserve that time for learning. Taking 10 days for testing seems burdensome and counterproductive. In my Internet meanderings, I found several articles in the last few days having to do with testing. In an article by Jennifer Keys Adair, she writes, “Indeed, as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation comes up for re-authorization this week President Obama has himself stated that ‘testing should be cut to a bare minimum.’ ” ([ http://theconversation.com/in-test-based-systems-even-young-kids-resist-learning-37569?utm_reader=feedly ]Test-based systems) She goes on to claim that a child’s involvement in the learning can be just as impactful as preparing for a test. “When children feel comfortable sharing their stories, they write better. When children can initiate conversations, they are more likely to listen to one another. And when children have what I call “agency” or the ability to influence or make decisions in their learning, they develop a wider and deeper range of capabilities than just standard math and literacy skills.” ([ http://theconversation.com/in-test-based-systems-even-young-kids-resist-learning-37569?utm_reader=feedly ]Test-based systems) It is important to note that actively engaged students learn better. That active engagement is authentic and engaged learning.
In a second article, Stacy Teicher Khadaroo writes about four schools in NH which are modifying testing scenarios. She reports, “These assessments require students to apply what they’ve learned in multiple steps and tasks. Fourth-graders, for instance, might design a new park, calculate the cost of creating it, and write a letter to persuade town leaders to build it.” ([ http://news360.com/article/281836224# ]NH Testing) This is not an alternative to testing – it is testing the very real challenges of putting learning to work – it is another case of where authentic assessment can be an important part of the learning paradigm.
These are only two articles of the several I stumbled across. Some conclusions are in order. My first conclusion is that we are currently spending a great deal of time to test students. I wonder if that is time well spent. Often, I wonder what would happen if the time spent on this kind of assessment were spent on teacher improvement.