5.21: Too Much Testing Going On?
Bill asks the representatives, Are you picking up "rumblings" about too much testing going on? The problem, he is told, is managing everything. Teachers are overwhelmed. Mia, the writing specialist, provided assistance and was instrumental in helping teachers manage it all. But doing all the assessments--"a stack of tests"--seemed to leave time for little else. One representative reports that the Hazeltine writing guide that Bill introduced was a great help and "seemed to alleviate a lot of anxiety." Notice two key things about what Bill does in this segment. First, he poses a key question: "Are there rumblings about too much testing?" This is an enormous issue in the current high-stakes, hyper-assessment environment. Second, he says nothing for the next few minutes. He listens attentively and lets the teachers characterize the issues and challenges they see. He does NOT offer an answer or solution to everything. He listens.
Bill Are you guys picking up rumblings from the grade level that there is just too much testing going on. Or is it probably a matter of them not quite yet having the big picture yet and seeing where it all comes-- T It's managing doing the testing and managing their classrooms at the same time. (Ts: Yeah, uh-huh) It's a management thing. They're overwhelmed because-- I, I believe some of the teachers are having trouble just managing the classrooms, period, and then when they're given something else to do now of another set of things, and they get flustered and then it falls apart. T I don't know if it's much of a management but more of a-- at first it did seen overwhelming, for a lot of the at least in the 4th grade level it seemed overwhelming for us, that there were all of these different tests and a lot of like the Santillana are very individual tests that you can't take whole groups. And that management came came right away, and Mia was really nice enough to go to a lot of the different classrooms and help us out with that so I really thank you for that because you really helped a lot of 4th grade teachers who were having problems with that. But I think that they're getting that sense that there was a lot in-- on top of teaching and doing the four domains of writing, not just, you know, summarizing and then comparing the rubrics. And it just really felt overwhelming for a while. T 4th grade had the Stanford9, the writing component of it, and then we had performance assignments for the ELL kids (Bill: Yes, yes), and it was just like, I remember one comment, (?) what else?? It was just like a stack of tests and it was where are we supposed to teach? And I think that maybe it was that by the end of this year we kind of you know, like this year is kind of like an experimentation figuring it out, how you are going to manage everything you need to do along with administering the test and not just focus on one thing. I think that this was like the trial, the practice and next year it's going to be a lot better. (T: Yeah, sure) And we have this for like new teachers, maybe, and show that this is why we are doing this, they will be more accepting of it and they won't you know put up the front where, you know, I don't want to do all of these tests. T You gave us the Hazeltine writing (Bill: Yeah) guidelines things. I introduced them in common planning today, and they were like, oh, this will, ok I could it this way. So it was like having like a little bit of guidance and a map of what should be done and when and the best to go about doing it, seemed to alleviate a lot of anxiety.