Today, during prep, we started to get ready for our series of test days. Part of that work is to cover up all the walls, remove the tools, take down the anchor charts, and separate the desks. When children came back from special they looked around their room with gaping mouths and said: “What did you do?” It was explained to them that we are getting ready to take our state exams and that since it’s a test they would not be able to use any of their familiar tools, or charts. They murmured among themselves and promptly responded: “We use those to learn!” It was explained again that since this was a test, it was up to them to do the work on their own. Their response to this news was a strange combination of confusion and annoyance: “Well when are you going to put them back?”
As teachers we do our best to give children a toolbox of strategies whether they be abstract or concrete. We do this, so that children can have intellectual freedom to work with autonomy while still being productive as they progress towards their long term goals. There is a delicate shift in developmental readiness – and not every child arrives at the destination at the same time. These instructional bags we offer each child is carefully differentiated to meet the needs of the individual learner. We are not talking about different work we are talking about granting access to texts to all students – with the support they require at this one point in time.
It’s not that testing doesn’t have value. Assessment is part of how we set goals and meet the needs of our students. However, it is all our responsibility to be informed. Here is a sample that was released by EngageNY. This was intended for third graders to read and interpret Leo Tolstoy’s: The Gray Hare We leave it up to you to decide – is this a text a third grader should be able to read independently?