Bet Your Middle School Didn’t Have These

PARCC (ELA, math, writing)
Math Standards Mastery
I-Ready diagnostic

According to a DCPS staffer, these ten standardized tests are being administered in every DCPS middle school this school year.

My daughter is in 6th grade in DCPS and told us last night at dinner that her math class has been preparing for the math standards mastery test for the last several weeks. This preparation has involved her class not doing the other math work that they had been doing before, but simply reviewing things they already knew.

When we asked what that test is for, she replied that it is to help understand whether students are working at grade level.

It is January. Four months into the school year.

How did it become unreasonable to think that our teachers might know, without the aid of an expensive standardized test, who is (and is not) working at grade level after four months?

Forty years ago, a highlight of my New Jersey public school 6th grade was a class trip to New York City, in which we climbed into the crown of the Statue of Liberty (note: do not do this if you are afraid of heights and/or claustrophobic) and danced around the pedestal with sheer joy. None of us was more joyous than my teacher, a New York native, who was simply giddy with excitement to be back in the grand spectacle of her home town and to share it with her class. We worldly 6th graders laughed at her exuberance.

That same school year, my 6th grade also held an international festival. My classmates and I formed small groups, chose a country, and researched its food and traditions over the course of several weeks. My group chose my mother’s country, which no longer exists. On the day of the festival, I brought in a rustic, traditional bread that my mother and I had made for the event. I recall one of the 6th grade teachers being unable to stop eating the bread (oh, it was indeed good)–and my own happiness in sampling all the delicious food others had brought in.

I don’t recall taking a standardized test that year. Maybe we did, but I know that any such testing was infrequent over the course of my 13 years of public school. And any standardized testing we did certainly didn’t amount to 10 different standardized tests in any given year–and certainly not with any test given on many occasions in one year. Or taking up instructional time.

What will our 6th graders remember of this school year?

One thought on “Bet Your Middle School Didn’t Have These

  1. In elementary schools, especially those that are considered 40/40 schools, students in K-5 receive a similar battery of tests, which include TRC, DIBELS, i-Ready, ANet, PARCC, NGSS (or science PARCC, 5th grade only), NAEP (4th grade only), and they also spend several hours per week on Lexia, ST Math, and i-Ready.


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