Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I can't wait to take that test

It was Rick Stiggins who first introduced to me the idea that we should be creating tests that students can't wait to take. This idea was foreign to me because I grew up in American schools where it sure seemed like most tests were a hurdle to overcome, created by sadistic publishers in order to inflict the most damage to our self esteem as humanly possible. So, Stiggins comes along and says, "Develop assessments that your students are enthusiastic and excited to take because they know all the answers". (paraphrase)

I recalled Stiggins this week when a 2nd grade teachers was describing the attitude of one of her students who was preparing to take the California Standards Test for the first time. The little rascal was genuinely excited, which of course, is in contrast to many of our teachers, who are sitting on pins and needles for days as students take the test. Then, we get to wait 3 excruciating months until we view the results. So, why was our little 8-year old in such a good mood for this high stakes test that is supposed to make children vomit and cower in fear? I think the main reason is that this teacher has thoroughly prepared her students for this standards based exam. The grade level standards are well known, and the students are given ample opportunity to practice their application in a variety of settings. In short, the content and format of the test was not a mystery. The instruction in the classroom matches what is being assessed, and at least this one student, couldn't wait to show everyone what she had learned.

My hope and prayer for all of my principal and teacher friends is that your classes are filled with excited little learners as testing season rumbles through your campuses. Bring on the test booklets, and let the celebrations begin!

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