Thursday, February 24, 2011


Many of you are well aware that next week our students will be taking the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.  A test better known as the ISAT.  In the weeks leading up to these state-mandated tests, I've learned quite a few different strategies for "teaching to the test."  Rest assured, our class has been learning to think all year long, which should favor them on a series of multiple choice tests.  We have been reviewing concepts, terms, and question sets they might see on the test, as well as strategies for answering questions.  Review and exposure to test constraints and terms should only help prepare students for next week.  Regardless of personal opinions on standardized testing, we have to do it.  So I have been preparing kids the best way I can; teaching them to think.

No single test score should define any one student, and it's simply impossible to get to know a child by looking at their answers on a multiple choice test.  Do ISATs give an indication of retained knowledge of skills and concepts?  Sure.  Do ISATs tell us how well our students can collaborate, create, analyze and problem solve (some of the more common 21st century skills)?  Not exactly.  How can you best prepare your child for standardized testing?  Encourage and support them to do their best and help them understand how important it is to be able to work with others and think for themselves.  Of course a healthy dinner, good night sleep, and well-balanced breakfast will help fuel their brains to be at their best.  So be sure to do that too.

If you feel the need to "study" for the ISATs, head over to Illinois State Board of Education's website and have a look at some of the sample tests.  You can even try a convenient interactive test.  When the first ISAT comes next Monday, I think most of my students will be thinking more about the lack of homework for the week than the significance of a standardized test score.  Children are more than just a test score.  But you already knew that. 

What are your thoughts about standardized testing?  Please feel free to share them below.  This is a conversation we, as educational stakeholders, should be able to have.