Approaches to Testing: Thoughtful and Diligent

Approaches to Testing: Thoughtful and Diligent

Students in grades 3-8 recently finished the ELA MCAS.  Our third grade students also completed 2 math sessions of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).  Since they are part of the PARCC math field test this year, they are exempt from the math MCAS in May.

“Standardized tests have been a part of American education since the mid-1800s. Their use skyrocketed after 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandated annual testing in all 50 states.” ProCon.org

I am not writing to debate the merits of standardized tests.  I want to share how our teachers and students have responded to these testing mandates.  On any given day, one can come across a grade level team meeting during their preparation period to review, discuss and or determine how to create lessons and units that are standards based. Friday collaboration time is used to review students’ needs in order to inform instruction so that all students have the scaffolding and support they need to meet the Brookline Learning Expectations.  We have also dedicated nine faculty meetings this year for collaborative use as we transition to the Common Core State Standards that were created in 2009.  This commitment to working with each other and learning from each other is the foundation that enables us to live up to our school vision’s statement, “We are a vibrant learning community with high expectations for academic excellence.”

The level of professionalism seen in the Lawrence staff is matched by the thoughtful and diligent work ethic our students demonstrate each day. As I visit classrooms, I always notice students working hard and trying their best to learn.  Learning can be messy and hard, and that is expected.  However, our teachers and students go forth in the process because they know it will allow them to grow.  I was so struck by the approach and determination with which our students completed MCAS and PARCC the past few weeks.  Students remained focused as they answered and wrote responses to questions that varied in difficulty.  A fourth grade student shared with me, “I loved the writing prompt for the long composition!  My answer was great!”  Another student lamented, “It wasn’t too bad and I tried my best, but I am glad it’s over.”  I understand both these sentiments.  Some students like these tests and some wish they never existed.  However, as I stated earlier, I am not writing to defend or denounce these tests.  I simply want to communicate how students and staff at Lawrence value teaching and learning.

Sincerely,
Monica Crowley

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