welcome back to the rest of the year!
This is the month of January, named after Janus1, the ancient Roman religion and myth, who was the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks both to the future and to the past.
Similarly, second semester for K-12 schools allow for administrators to look into the past and forecast for the future or the remainder of the school year. “Testing the metal” in the first semester can allow for second semester traction towards academic ascension. So, let’s get to work!
Most states require some sort of statewide assessment during the second semester. Schools, which involve such testing, use the first semester to work out the kinks. Diagnostic tests, mock assessments and similar tools offer a rock solid look into what the school’s academic score will resemble at the end of the year. These fall processes can influence the outcome of test scores and make academic weaknesses easily identifiable. Let’s consider a few of the following problematic issues: Poor diagnostic testing records, testing administrators, and the best time of the day to test.
In many states (e.g. Wyoming, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida) tested grades include 3rd, 8th, and 10th, calculating most of the schools’ scoring.
Core educators (English, Math, History, and Science) significantly count for state assessment scoring. Consequently, a small set of core educators, who fail to adequately prepare students for the Spring Assessment, can affect the entire school grade. For example, five core educators out of twenty-five have poor fall diagnostic scores. Their class roster of 100 students (500 total) is what’s at stake. This is a crucial number added to the denominator of the twenty-five core rosters. Consequently, the key is to identify these educators and make changes to the teaching schedule now! While no one enjoys 2nd semester fluctuations, the modifications must occur. When scores appear in late May or early June it is YOU who will answer to the superintendent.
Moving Your Best Cops to Your Toughest Beat
Educators often balk at the idea of being given the assignment to administer school-wide tests. Arghh! To be locked down for hours of the day with the same students is almost unfair. Especially when others have an elongated planning session. The fact is, some teachers are not adequate test administrators and can tank your school scores due to ineptness. However, as the administrator, you understand certain educators have a knack for controlling the students, following test instructions, turning in complete test materials, AND ensuring makeups (missing tests) are adequately deployed and collected. It’s a talent they possess. These educators are jewels and pleasant for administrators, who must find ways to satisfy the 30% of the staff when drafting for these positions.
Is Testing After Lunch for Chumps?
When is the best or worst time of the day to schedule assessments? Understanding how crucial and delicate assessments are to overall outcomes, it is important to identify the precise times for optimal productivity. As a principal I find post-lunch testing usually produces poorer scores. The statement “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” (I believe) centers around assessments. Students who are full from lunch typically end up dragging back to classrooms to test. Does one dare bank the school’s statewide assessment performance at this appointed time? Also, the end of the day allows clock watchers to begin to disengage from the school day, and that includes students. The argument to afternoon testing is that “too early of a start time does offer productivity as brain activity is not yet alert.”2 Although that thought is debatable, recent research will agree testing in the morning is not detrimental.3
Again, experiences from the fall will have brought discovery to light on when to test. School administration descends from the height of the winter holidays to bring winter to a close. Spring is just around the corner, issuing new growth and ideas derived from the fall’s research.
As we move through the rest of the winter and focus more on testing and other measures, it is important to use that fall research to drive your decision-making as you enter standardized test season. We wish you all the best!
Dr. George L. Lockhart
- Varro apud Augustine De Civitate Dei VII 9 and 3; Servius Aen. I 449; Paulus ex Festus s. v. Chaos p. 45 L
- Lahey, J. (n.d.). Students Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/08/surprise-students-arent-getting-enough-sleep/379020/
- Edwards, F. (n.d.). Do Schools Begin Too Early? Retrieved from http://educationnext.org/do-schools-begin-too-early/