While we wait for the 8th grade parents to stalk the mail carriers (I wonder if they know which weeks they’re being stalked?) I thought we could discuss the ISAT tests a bit.
I was curious about the extent to which schools are discussing and prepping kids for the test.
My son will be taking the test for the first time next week and there has certainly been talk of it at his school. Last year he mentioned it and expressed a concern about doing well on it. I have to say, I don’t like any pressure being put on the kids to “perform.”
On the other hand, obviously this is high stakes for the teachers and administration. I wonder if the pressure feels less intense with Huberman gone. I know he put a lot of stress on the principals about it.
In terms of test prep, I’ve noticed my son’s reading class doing a ton of these “Extended Response” questions which I believe are very test driven. Normally the class is not at all test-prep oriented, so I have mixed feelings about the emphasis on teaching them to write these responses in a way that helps on the ISATs. Or is the “Extended Response” way of writing just a universal way of teaching kids to write?
The other interesting thing about the ISAT tests is that my son’s class is currently learning 5th grade math. So when I had him do some 3rd grade practice math questions, there was a lot of stuff that he didn’t remember (congruent shapes, vertices, how to calculate volume.) I ordered a practice 3rd grade ISAT test book online, just so he could feel more comfortable in the test and I was curious to see what was on it.
Much of it is knowing terms, rather than actual computation which I think does necessitate a bit of “teaching to the test” to keep these terms fresh in kids’ minds. that is exactly what his teacher is doing this week — going over some of these terms. I don’t feel it is “teaching to the test” per se, nor “test prep” but I feel it’s necessary to have 5th grade level math kids do well on a 3rd grade test.
I also kept an eye out for questions that I thought would be biased against certain groups of kids (which some people claim hurts lower socio-economic kids.) They certainly attempt to include names of a wide variety of kids in the word problems. There was a question about the weight of a baseball bat that I felt my son might not be familair with since he’s not a sports kid. Perhaps that could be one that inner city kids wouldn’t know?
Overall, I find the reading for 3rd grade to be very eary and the math to be a little difficult, but that could just be my son’s abilities.
If you have any interesting experiences from your own school – what they’re doing to prepare for the ISATs, if you feel they should or shouldn’t be doing this, please share….