Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tests . . .

One of the things that differentiates 4th grade from 5th grade will be sending home tests the students take. While I'm not a fan of test giving (or test taking), students need to develop an awareness that as they enter middle school, tests will be used to evaluate and grade them on a regular basis. When I grade tests, there are a number of things I do:

1) I go over the test answers and provide as much feedback with students as possible. I also go over test answers in case I made a mistake and incorrectly marked an answer wrong or correct. I make mistakes too and am well aware of this!

2) Students add up their points to see if they match the number of points I gave. If not I adjust.

3) I have students calculate their own percentages of how much they got correct. Then they compare the percentage with the South Carolina grading scale.

4) I asked students to reflect on why they did or did not do well. The typical response was "I could have participated more" and "I should have asked more questions when I did not understand."

Today I will be sending home a social studies test. Up at the top is a point value out of 90 points. Then in pencil somewhere, your child calculated their percentage and grade. Please talk over the test with your child. Then sign and return the test back to school by Friday. Students should be able to articulate how they did because we reflected on this together in class. 

Remember, tests are a snapshot of how your child is doing - it's not the whole picture. It is impossible to sum up the knowledge of a child (let alone anyone) based on one test. Too many variables come into play when a someone takes a test (e.g., didn't I eat, I am tired, I had a rough morning) that can affect the outcome. I believe that tests, in conjunction with daily classwork and observational notes, provides a better assessment of how your child is doing. If your child brings home a test, and they didn't do well, it does not mean they are failing. But it is important to discuss how they could do better.

At the same time, I'm a realist and know that at some point, children will need to realize how the use of tests will be used to judge their academic performance. Since I don't give grades, I consider my class a safe environment for my students to learn about the intricacies of test taking such as studying for a test, dealing with the stress and anxiety associated with test taking, and reflecting on the results of test taking to improve further test taking. So as the year continues, we will take tests on occasion and use them as opportunities to improve test taking strategies in preparation for middle school.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to respond.



  1. Were they given ample time to take the test?

    1. I think so. The social studies test was only 26 multiple choice questions and they had almost an 35 minutes to take the test. Students also took a math test and they were given 50 minutes to complete 20 questions. Several student had to miss their reading time because I gave them even more time. I never want a child to not do well due to time. At the same time, I think it is not unseasonable to expect a child to finish a test during a particular class period of usually 45 - 60 minutes.