I finally broke down today and had a talk with my students about "the test." It's three teaching weeks away, and we're getting ready to start some heavy review.
The first thing I asked was, "How many times have you heard me mention "the test" this year?" Students talked in groups and came up with, "Not many. Hardly at all. A few times."
I think that's the way it should be. Now, I've been diligently planning for "the test" since the first day of school. Even though it's been on the forefront of my mind, I don't want students stressing over it.
I don't believe in teaching to the test. I believe if you teach and assess the written curriculum, adjust instruction to meet students need, and keep students motivated to learn, "the test" will take care of itself.
With that being said, if you don't practice the way you play, students won't be ready. So, each week, students take short, cold assessments in reading, writing, and math. These assessments have had "the test" in mind since August, but students simply view them as their weekly assessments -- much like students view spelling tests.
There are so many resources out there to assist in preparing: Acuity, Buckle Down, released items, etc. When students see "the test," they usually say it's easier than they anticipated. That poses another problem though because sometimes they're too confident and make careless errors. :-/
I reassured my students that they've learned all they need to know for "the test." Then, I ran through everything I've done to prepare them since the first day of school. We left the discussion on a positive note, and I didn't notice stressed-out students. After all, this is their time to shine.
I don't mind standardized testing because it's just another measure of learning. I do mind how stressed it makes teachers and students. I also mind that so much is at stake if scores don't come in as expected.
One thing I know after 19 years of teaching is that when I run into students years down the road, they remember how they felt about being in my class. They never mention what score they got on "the test."
Teaching is the best profession in the world. I can't imagine doing anything else. I know that I'll be glad when "the test" is over, and life can return to normal - whatever that is. :)