Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Testing day...

We don't put much stock in tests. Especially standardized tests. In my mind, standardized tests are meant to test standardized children... and those children do not exist.

But I like to know where my children are in the scope of things and how they are progressing. And if (God forbid) something should ever happen to me and they would need to go into public school, then I think the test scores are good information to have on hand. So for the last two Springs, I have set up a day to do the MAP test with an online proctor.

Today was the day. They had their water bottles filled with water, I bought fruit bars as snacks, and they were allowed to chew gum. (Whoohooo!) This took out most of the test anxiety they may have and I got Cyan ready to go.

This year she switched from the test being electronically read to her, to reading it herself. I had let her know ahead of time and had prepared her by going over the Dolch words, and reviewing the rules of sounding things out. She was set. We started the test today in high spirits.

That didn't last long.

She got through the first questions with flying colors. They were mostly deductive reasoning and I was shocked at the level of vocabulary they were requiring of my 8 year old... but she was doing ok. I stayed in the room and as I watched her she got all of the first 5 problems correct, even though some seemed quite a bit above her level. Then as I watched I started to get irritated. The questions didn't come back to a 3rd grade level... they kept going higher and higher until she was having to read entire pages worth of work and then they would ask her questions like "now find the false statement on this page". WHAT? Um... She's 8.

I sat with her and watched the next two questions closely. The first one was a page of instructions on how to install a fire alarm in a hallway. It had about 2 paragraphs worth of info, which is heavy for her age level. Ie: hard but do-able. But then, when we got to the multiple choice answers it asked her 'which of these four sentences did not appear in the instructions' and it had four choices... and NONE of them had appeared (word for word) in the (painful for her to read cuz she is 8 years old) instructions.

The next one was worse. It said:

"You are writing a children's book about the dentist. The book is about a child's very first visit to a dentist office. Please choose the words that would keep the focus of your young audience."

A) Oral Hygienist, Calcification, Plaque, Surgical Tray

B) Cavities, Cleaning Tools, Tooth Brush, Dentist's Mask

C) Gums, Bite, Enamel, Aspirator

D) Oral, Tarter, Orthodontist, Cuspid

At this point she started crying cuz she didn't know what ANY of those words meant and I told her she could be done now. I signed off the computer and called the proctor.

I told the proctor what had happened and I told her that in no way was I going to watch my daughter cry through a test. (We were only through the first part of three.) Plus, I was pretty sure that when I left the room she was just pressing buttons anyhow to get through it, so that wasn't going to show us anything. She told me that the first five questions (all of which my daughter got correct, remember?) set the level of the test and that level could be anywhere from 3rd to 12th grade level. I was blown away to say the least. So basically, my daughter was getting 7th to 12th grade questions because she has good deductive reasoning skills?? Apparently, the answer is yes. Gosh that sucks!

Yeah... I told the proctor that we were all done with that, and that we could try another test tomorrow, but my kids will not be taking the MAP test again. But what makes me even more angry is that Cyan spent an hour after her test saying that she was sorry she couldn't do it. Poor thing! In NO WAY should a test EVER make a child feel like that.



SmallWorld at Home said...

That is outrageous! Good for you for pulling the plug on that one.

Michelle said...

Yuck... Poor Cyan, I hope she bounces back!
We use the PASS test for 5th grade and every other year above that. Other than that, I just print out some of the free assessment tests I've found on Google and use them as a guide and to get my girls used to testing.

Sadie said...

WOW! That is awful. I've never done the standardized tests, in the hs option we do in TN they have to test in 5th,7th and 9th I think. The same TCAP test all the other kids take. So after this coming year....I;m so sorry she went through that...

Teri said...

Caroline did an online reading test last year that was similar. It gets a basal level, then jumps up to the get the ceiling.
If it were not online, the test giver would have her go through all of the questions until she reached her ceiling. The test was trying to hone in on her level without asking her a ton of extra questions.
I explained it to Caroline beforehand and told her it was ok to miss them and that she was SUPPOSED to miss some of them so they would know where she was at.
(That's the only standardized test that we have experience with online. The other two have been tested by Scottish Rite to rule out learning disabilities. Caroline, I really needed to know her reading level so that I could know what I should be giving her. :p)

Christian Homeschooling said...

I have been really contemplating these "standardized tests" and whether or not I really wanted to start this process for my daughter (3rd grade) already.

Part of me says's not really required yet for us in i might just pass.

Thanks for your post.