First grade…high stakes assessment…misery
- Author: Anonymous, Teacher
- State: NY
- Test: Other
- Date: May 19 at 8:39 pm ET
As a first grade teacher, I never imagined that I would be writing a reflection on high-stakes testing, but I am. When I entered graduate school, and became an educator, I purposely chose to teach in elementary schools in the lower grades. I knew the stress and anxiety of these standardized testing, for teachers and students, and I wanted to avoid it. My goal was to teach in the lower grades, where I could truly enjoy my passion for teaching where they did not have the pressure of testing, but I was wrong. As the new school year started for first grade, and with my students that looped up with me from kindergarten by my side, I was ready to embark on the new curriculum and expectations for the grade.
However, within weeks of school starting, we were told of the Measurement of Student Learning (MOSL). The MOSL is 40% of an educator’s total rating, which determines their future within the Department of Education. As a second year teacher, the knowledge of this greatly affected me because close to half of my rating depended on these measures, and the scores and improvement of my students would also be held over their heads on their permanent records. For 2-4 days, students all over the school, from kindergarten through 5th grade completed the MOSL. As I met with my colleagues about the MOSL, the mantra was how stressed students were and how nervous they were seeing students clearly do poorly on this high-stakes assessment.
Now, in this month students were again to complete the end-of-year MOSL and the pressure has been on. For the past month and a half, we have focused instruction on the skills necessary for them to improve on the MOSL, meetings with our assistant principal each week to look at data from our students, as well as excluding reading units that do not compliment the strategies, knowledge, and skill necessary to successfully complete the MOSL. During one of our practice times for the MOSL, one of my students asked if they could write a story about the informational text they read and I had to tell them they could not because they could only focus on informational writing pieces for the MOSL. It honestly hurt to tell this student this because he is one of my most imaginative writers, with voice and style already present in his writing, and I had to stop him from expressing his learning in a way he felt most comfortable. I can see some students extrinsically motivated by getting a high score on the MOSL, while others intrinsic motivation for learning and written expression were crushed as they stared meaninglessly at their papers and through the windows. Recommendations moving forward will be to have a set time during the day for students to free write and compose the types of writing they enjoy. I would also plan tons of trips before and after the MOSL to release stress from hours of high-stakes assessment.