Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Fever

So we are getting crazy close to testing time and I am getting more and more anxious. March has began. In front of the main office is a huge calendar mapping out the days left until DC-CAS (the comprehensive exam for all DC students which determines how well I have done this year). Last week my class took DC-BAS (the benchmark test, which we have had 4 of throughout the year) and begrudgingly my principal said that my class's test scores have improved...(how? i am really unsure).

Anyway...this week I went in full test prep mode giving my kids all sorts of practice probes, both used in the standard test format, through self-created board games and jeopardy. While they initially found some of these activities to be fun and exciting it only took a few students who didn't care to bring down the whole class (the usual culprits J, AJ and H).

I have already spoken on J, but AJ and H are without question my two worst behaved students (with the exception of M&M who comes to school so rarely that I am much less affected). What makes it worse is that they are brothers. They are 2 out of a 8 kid family, which is one of the main families known through the school for their terrible behavior. 5 of them attend the school, 2 left last year (who were apparently worse) and their mother just popped out another one...WTF!!!!! WHYYYYYY TRICK WHYYYYYYYYYY???? AJ bragged to me Thursday after some incident where he attempted to incite classroom disorder and probably succeeded that he "won't get expelled. I hit the principal. I can do anything." Anyway...I will blog some other time about the need for a uniform school discipline policy, back to the subject...

Anyway, despite the fact that I believe (although this is my first year so who knows) that based on the DC-BAS we have been taking all year I can pretty accurately predict who will be scoring around what levels on the exam I will continue to try to drill the testing strategies and try and familiarize my students with this monster of a test that they face.

However it is spring and my 5th graders are clearly feeling all sorts of spring feelings and crazily enough are taking themselves more and more away from the goals of DC-CAS. While I am feeling intense pressure from the school, the district (I even heard a rap song about DC-CAS broadcast on the radio last week) kids seem to be caring less. "Does this mean I will pass the grade? Is this on my report card?" No and no. The accountability is placed entirely on the teachers and administration, but the students have no conception of the meaning of the test. They are told it is important. Everyone talks about it. But it means nothing to them.

And even scarier is the thought of what happens after the test? The test is in mid April and we continue on until June. The test is so built up in the students' minds they are done after the test. And honestly in my mind I feel very similar, yet we are forced to endure 2 more painful months where I attempt to teach and the poor behaving students act worse, while the well behaved children no longer feel the need to behave anymore with testing done.

I guess it is really just a matter of freestyling. Everyday this week we have worked on test prep and while I would rather try to broaden my teaching approach I feel greatly pressured to go hard and focus on testing. That is what DCPS cares about and that is what the students have been trained to care about. As far as what I will do once we are done testing....I guess I just have to wait and see.

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