Next week our third through eighth grade students will be taking the Ohio Achievement Assessments. The Ohio Department of Education explains these assessments on their website.
“The Ohio Reading and Mathematics Achievement Assessments are annual tests that measure how well students have learned the reading and math concepts taught in grades 3–8. The Ohio Science Assessments are annual tests provided to students in grades 5 and 8. These assessments are designed specifically for Ohio students and are based on Ohio’s Academic Content Standards. They do not test a child’s intelligence or aptitude and are not meant to compare children’s abilities.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires all states to establish academic standards that show what students should know and be able to do in reading and mathematics at the end of each grade. NCLB also requires states to test all students in grades 3–8 annually in reading and mathematics to assess how well students are meeting the Academic Content Standards. The results of the assessments are used to identify districts, schools and students that may require additional resources to meet state Academic Content Standards. “
As my fourth grade daughter was practicing for her Mathematics assessment last night I was reminding her to take her time, explain her answers, check her answers, etc…She was quickly growing annoyed with her dad, and she asked me the million dollar question: “Dad, why are these tests so important?” My first response was to parrot the great Chris Farley Saturday Night Live Skit “Van Down by the River.” So I said something to the effect of, “If you don’t want to have to live in a van down by the river, you need to score well on these tests.” Immediately I realized that this was not a helpful or appropriate response, and also not a response that she accepted. As I thought more about why these tests are so important, initially my thoughts were that these tests aren’t real important for you. But…. they’re really important for your teacher, (value added scores come directly from these assessments and will be factored directly into a teachers evaluation next year) they’re really important for your school, and they are the main factor in how our school district is rated by the State of Ohio, and reported about in the newspaper. Furthermore those ratings may affect our property values.
In actuality, I believe the testing is important for my daughter as well. Like it or not, testing is a major factor in education in America in 2013. I don’t believe that will change in the near future. Therefore my daughter must learn to perform well, first on her OAA’s, and later, on her end of course exams in high school, and eventually on her SAT, ACT, MCAT, GRE, etc… ODE goes on to give a good explanation of how both parents and schools can use these tests now.
“The Achievement Assessments ensure that families and teachers know whether each student has learned the reading and math skills and information expected at each grade level. The Achievement Assessments can also help identify specific areas in which a student needs extra support and practice. Teachers and families can then work together to ensure that a student gets the help that he or she needs.
The Achievement Assessments also help identify when students have gained a strong understanding of grade-level materials and may be ready to be challenged by more advanced concepts and activities.”
Next week we test! Our teachers have done great work in helping students to get ready. It will be a week where our students can show off and show Ohio what they know. In Worthington we value more than testing. But, as part of being a “Both / And” school district, testing is important too!
*I want to give a special thanks to my daughter’s teacher Susan Hlbert. Mrs. Hilbert has been AWESOME this year. My daughter is prepared and confident because of Mrs. Hilbert’s clear teaching and unwaivering positive support.