[2015] Lindsay Simmons: Assessment through my eyes

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[2015] Lindsay Simmons: Assessment through my eyes

My first memories of assessments include a lot of tears. I've always put a lot of pressure on myself, even when I was very little. I remember tears streaming down my face during my first formal assessment in second grade as I tried to perfect the bubbles I made on the bubble sheet. I had to be removed from the class and tested on another day because I couldn't pull it together.

First Memory

I'm probably one of the few teachers that can say I enjoyed aspects of teaching high stakes testing grades. As a teacher I felt like this was my chance to help students like me who felt too much pressure over tests. I wanted to help my students overcome their test anxiety and realize that these tests are silly. I called the EOGs a puzzle, and told my students that the test maker tries to make questions tricky, but it's our job to find his/her tricks. My students came out of the EOGs excitedly telling me "Oh they tried to trick me on a few, but I caught the tricks!"

I never assessed ELL students with high stakes tests, but within the classroom I did require them to participate in my quizzes and tests. I never wanted these students to feel like they were not part of the class or for the other students to feel like the ELL students didn't have content learning expectations as well. For these students, however, I always tried to modify the format to suit his/her needs. For instance, my newcomer had a lot of picture based assessments in the beginning and I would always sit with him during the assessments.

I always encouraged my students to take their time on assessments, even if it meant coming back later to finish. I told them never to rush because it doesn't matter who's first. I shared with them that I was usually the last one done with tests but often had one of the highest scores when I was a student, so first doesn't mean anything. If students did poorly, we discussed what that meant for the future - it didn't mean I thought any less of them. New small groups would be made to catch up skills after assessments. I loved to use a lot of self-assessments with smiley faces where the students drew a sad, happy, or unsure face to indicate how they felt about certain questions. I also loved to use ungraded quick checks at the beginning of class to determine how much they retained from the day before.

My biggest complaint with high stakes testing is that it takes away so much instructional time. All the days taking benchmarks and EOGs or doing EOG review could be spent actually teaching. In the classroom, teachers know how to use a combination of formative and summative assessments to drive instruction. Beyond that, assessments just for the sake of scores is pointless in my opinion.

Beginning in third grade, it seemed like every test was a competition for who was the smartest in class, especially among the AIG students. This made every quiz and test stressful, not just the EOGs. This shaped me to be even more anxiety-ridden for assessments. I carried this with me all through high school. I remember my parents begging me to go to bed late at night on volleyball or softball game nights in high school, but I refused because I had to study just a little longer to ensure an A on the test the next day. I had a lot of self-worth wrapped up in assessments.

As a middle school student I remember being frustrated by the way teachers dealt with the ELLs. I was friends with many of these students and could chat in English with them. During assessments, the teacher would ask all the ELLs to go to a backroom alone and take tests together, without a teacher. Later, these students would tell us they used the book and all talked through the answers so everyone ended up getting A's. I understand the need for modification for ELLs who don't have the content language yet, but I always knew this wasn't the best way to handle the situation. I felt like my teachers didn't know what to do, so they just put them together outside the classroom and hoped for the best.

Assessment Through My EyesLindsay Simmons

High Stakes Testing As A Teacher

Working with ELL Students

Observing ELLs As a Student

Alternatives to High Stakes Testing

The Competition of Testing

Approaching Assessments As A Teacher


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