The Stress of the Test

The Question:
We started our Student Learning Objective test today.
I am just horrified at how inappropriate it is to give these babies days and days of testing.
Moments into the letter sound test I had four children crying because they have not been taught yet. Then, when we asked them to write on lined paper about their family,  we got more tears because “I can’t write.”
Do other K teachers do this at the beginning of the year?
The Answers:
Tammy Hobbs Shafer
 This was the first year we gave it. It was horrible.
Rocio Sanchez 
Uh huh! We take tests where they have to bubble in answers on test booklets.
Lora Pruden
 We only have them write their names.
Denice Christiansen
 I try my very best to keep it positive, not stressful to them, it’s more like a game not so much like a test. We do okay and some of them we do a little bit at a time and come back later. It does no good to get them all worked up. It’s more of a “show me what you know”,” let’s see what you do” kind of a moment. And in the end no matter what they did, I always tell them they are so smart and did a great job. Keep your chin up, it gets easier.
Jessica Lorenz Moshka
We use AIMSweb in fall/winter/spring
Tina Sandoval Plath
 I have never given a math assessment as dumb as the one I just got through. The kids had to count and write the number (not bad.) Then they had to spell the number word (not even standard.) Then they had to fill in a ten frame (not on the standard till late 2nd quarter.) Then they had to count how many more to ten on the frame and then see if the number was closer to 0 or 10.
My head hurt for two whole days.
Deb Agne
We took tests on the computer- yikes!
Tia Burton 
I am so sorry that you are now having to go through this. We already went through it. I will be putting my problems with these tests on paper because, apparently those who made this test could not have possibly asked kindergarten teachers, nor administered it with their prompts, to any test subject. It is a pilot for this year, so hopefully they will make the necessary changes for this test. I know it is supposed to show growth, but you are right. It makes the kids feel awful and they cry!
Liz Gavin Hodge 
Ours take the ThinkLink test, in which they must bubble in answers. The content includes addition, subtraction, and full paragraphs. The kindergarten students are expected to read themselves and answer comprehension questions. Totally unfair.
Lora Pruden
I tested letter ID and sounds. Also number recognition to 10, colors and shapes. There will be more in November before report cards.
Cheryl Dycio
Very unfair to do this to them. Some will accept it as a”game” others will feel bad and this will shake their confidence. We actually gave up administering NWEA tests to our K students. We are giving DIBELS this year.
Michele Hannigan Confer 
I have to give DIBELS and a CRAZY math assessment. Like they have to ID randomly placed numbers to 31. Have to count to 100 (NOT ON COMMON CORE!) manipulate counters shown one way to make another way to make a number. Count using base ten blocks (but not able to count individual blocks when they are in a 10 group) add, subtract, identify shapes and 3D shapes,write numbers 0-10 make and explain a number set and more I cannot remember what else but there is more. They are frustrated and I am frustrated and it takes everyday for almost 3 weeks since the test is SO LONG!!!!
Pamela Pine Martin
 Testing kinders at this time of the year is just inappropriate (unless to get a baseline for grouping) and wrong. However, the powers that be require it. They have never taught K or sat one on one with 24 or more kids individually doing this type of assessment. I feel your pain. We have it in our district.
Deb Haffner 
We do DIBELS, mClass math, TRC reading & set our own SLO (decoding CVC words). Last year we gave a 28 page booklet of coloring in bubbles for High Ability. I have taught K for over 30 years and I am in TEARS! We adopted Journeys & I am actually having panic attacks over this series! What I know that is best for kids does not seem to matter. I still love teaching, but my heart breaks for our little learners.
Deena Sullivan 
Especially at beginning of year the paper should NOT have lines!
Donna Plunkett
 I do letter and number recognition, I get a writing sample to see where they are in writing and then in October we give the istation test on the computer. And yes it’s stressful because they have to log in by themselves.
Donna Plunkett
 We use Journeys and love it!
Elizabeth Graham 
Check this out, an open letter of concern about the new teacher evaluation system in GA:
Support the concerns raised and the recommendations made in GREATER’s Open Letter on the implementation of a value-added Teacher Evaluation System.
Teresa Nordstrom Sanchez 
Thank God I work at a Catholic School. I do a beginning of the year assessment and small assessments that coincide with the texts we use. Even those tests have to be administered one on one in small groups.
Deb Haffner
 @Donna, I would love to know more about Journeys…We are all stressing over it, trying to fit everything in…the work books, all with 24-25 kids and little para support.
And I must have 20 out of my 23 students pass I-Read K to make me a highly effective teacher!
Jolene Dambeck Sosnowski
 I test letters (upper and lowercase), numbers to 10, colors, and shapes using flash cards. That other stuff is just crazy!!!
Roxanne Buff 
We have a test call PALS that we are required to give. It has a spelling test along with letters and sounds and reading a passage and IDing words. LOTS of tears but it is mandatory that we give it three times a year. I am surprised the kids come back the next day!
Jessica Marie 
This year we started giving them the test NWEA which is on a computer!!!! We start the first week of school!!!! Our district is quickly realizing it is not even valid because many children don’t even know how to use a computer and the ones that do still don’t even know what the questions are. This new age of data data data and putting a number to where five year olds are is just hurting! I too had kids crying and now we wasted days of school for results that mean nothing! Sooooo frustrating!
Dawn Spurr 
Deb, we used Journeys last year and I love it!!   As far as testing..we did the K-ral. After we did that, the state came and made us do another test…WRITE A STORY, count forward from a number like 36, and regroup numbers to make another fact family. If the people who designed the test would only realize that I have children who have never even held a pencil, let alone WRITTEN a STORY!!!
Stephanie Gault Albarez
 It seems so unfair to us as teachers, and to our young students, that we are required to give these types of assessments- these evaluations were designed by non-early childhood people who just DO NOT UNDERSTAND the mind of a 5 year old.
Christina Del Priore Poulos
 We torture our children down here Florida as well. I HATE it. It is inappropriate.
Amy Kress 
I’m lucky that I don’t have to bother with the standardized nonsense, but I do evaluate upper/lower letter recognition, printing, numeral recognition, counting, color & shapes. following directions, and a phonics based spelling that I can use as a baseline for report cards and parent meetings. Some get stressed- but if you can come from a place where it’s “show me what you know so I can plan to teach you what you need” they seem to relax a bit. I give them a “brain sprinkles” (“magic” cake sprinkles I pretend to shake on their heads and rub in so their brains give them the “right” answers) and they LOVE it- I like to see they types of mistakes they make because THAT tells so much too- so I just tell them to go for it and try their best.
Carrie Byrnes
 Wow! This is all insane. I teach just outside of Toronto. I have 2 JK classes. For JK there are no standard tests. I use Marie Clay’s observation survey throughout the year to gain information about progression and areas I can focus my instruction. For advanced students I use PM Benchmarks to test reading levels. By the end of the year I test all students using benchmarks to see what kind of reading skills students are using (even if they are not reading). When I do the letter ID/sound test, I stop if a student is not getting it at all. I also split the test up and do it at different times for students who have difficulty concentrating. I start off gradually. I do test certain knowledge skills in advance of teaching to help me figure out my focus. But I don’t feel it is fair to test too much before teaching. It is setting many of the students up for failure. I also have a lot of students in my classes whose first language is not English. They would definitely cry during the tests you are describing. Good luck to you!
So often decisions about our students are made by people that have no education background or who have been out of the classroom for too long! Kindergarten teachers should be making these decisions or assisting the boards of education to make them!
Sue MacAvoy Sweet
 We do a kindergarten screening prior to the start of K – it takes about 15-20 minutes; then in October/ January/May we do PALS (mentioned above) -it was developed by UVA – we’ve been doing it in our county in VA for at least 14 years – my son did it in his K class and he just graduated from high school. Other than that we have a K-2 Math Assessment that our county developed – 5 items – counting to whatever they can do; 1:1 correspondence for #s 4, 8, and 12; # id 0-15; writing #s 0-15; and conservation @ that we do in Sept/February/May
Heather Hargis
 Our teacher evaluations are based on student growth. To show growth we only give PALS 3 times a year individually and STAR early reading test that is on the computer. I test letters and sounds for grouping the first week of school. Every month I check what letters, sounds and numbers they have learned, but it only takes a minute for each.
Karen Salter @Carrie–Toronto sounds great! We give 3 math benchmark tests a year (32 question multiple choice/bubble in answer), we give Reading benchmark tests in the same format with some individually administered questions on blending/rhyming/segmenting 6 times (!!!!) a year, we give a science benchmark in the same format 3 times a year, and we give the standardized FAIR test 3 times a year….and yes this is Kindergarten in Orange County, FL.
Maggie Beattie 
Yes…never use word test. We practice what we know to get better. Always have visual prompts around (letter strips, #lines, word walls … portable enough to fit in crayon/pencil boxes. Taught them this first! Can sing abc song, usually can find letters of name. They love having a bag of Learning tricks. And building blocks of ALWAYS learning! Get more ah-has of what I know/can do smiles! These politicians need to see the increased anxieties caused at such a young age. Next we’ll be reading about more drop-out rates. 😦
OK! Someone get on the horn to Chicago teacher union negotiating teams and share all this! We need to work together to stop this insanity! All seem to agree this is way too much for KDG and developmentally inappropriate practice! Can we get back to TEACHING and get kids to yearn for more!
I also used my own assessments based on what was covered in a 2 week period. Did individual and whole groups. Kindergarteners loved being like big kids-writing what they know…always had copiers- dealt with gently- really is good survival skill anyway! Most intelligent people may not know the answer by rote or automatically; but, sure sign of intelligence is using resources to find out!
Erik Lauritsen
 I was one of these children and I still have a hard time reading writing and other things because I was never taught or any one cared too.  I’m 42 and still am hurt by what I don’t know what to do and people still don’t understand I understand their tears.
Diane Trepiccione Dean
 Yes we do, but I stop each subtest immediately if they don’t get it. I refuse to stress them out. If they don’t know anything fine they can only go up then.
Missy Gannon Kacy 
I taught kindergarten for 18 years. It’s in my heart. I was offered the chance to teach it again, now that we’ve gone full time. I couldn’t make myself do it, because I am SO AGAINST all of the inappropriate things they are made to do these days. It breaks my heart, and I fear for the backlash that is soon to come from not letting kids be kids anymore.
Judi Wirenius Morris
 The paperwork and testing this year is so incredible..I am ready to give up..but first I have to spend two MORE hours this weekend doing lesson plans!
Kathy Dawson Hartley 
We also test . . . but the good thing is they improve so much before the next testing period. I always tell parents I know your child knows more than this test shows, but it gives us a starting point.
Nadine Inglis Berger 
makes me cry along with them.
Colleen Seabury 
I am starting the first round of testing this week. My kids are also being tested in Art, Library, music and gym! Next week I get so test them in math… It is crazy. All due to APPR.
Erika Del Re
 Let’s just make children hate school, maybe that will satisfy everyone, and let their parents witness all this stress first hand.
Lisa Castelluccio Gosse 
As a teacher of 19 years (10 of that in Kindergarten), my heart breaks every day at what we are denying these little ones-the FUN of being 5!
Amanda Bertrand 
Yup. I just keep telling them its okay I will teach you about that this year : /.
Ruth Grant 
I wouldn’t even try that with my first graders. What a way to start the year.
Kathy White
 We administer NWEA-MAP test 3 times a year, beginning in Sept. We garner perhaps a little bit of useful information. However some of the kids are so overwhelmed that I have to wonder about how valid the scores really are to me. Sometimes I have to think that we test more than we teach! Kids and teachers alike are stressed to death!
Ellen Kirkland 
Tracy Muckler-Manley
 Yes and it’s making me crazy.
Deborah Belcher
 Yes, we also test a lot in Florida – but we do it all one-on-one at the beginning of the year. The state wide FAIR test is administered 3 times during the year but it is always 1 -on-1. Our BOY district testing is also all 1 on 1. It Takes a ton of time but it is less stressful. I do tell the kids “Oh, you’ll learn that this year”. At the end of the year we have to do an EOY math test and science and that is whole group. it is still stressful even at that point.
Kathrene Beasley
 Teachers, you must stand up for what you know in your hearts and mind is right. If we don’t no one will. Public education is in peril because teachers have forgotten how to speak up and do the right thing. Don’t do that to children.
Cathy English- Chittenden
 Amen Kathrene. The insidious continued downward push of inappropriate curriculum on our youngest learners has got to stop. So very sad & scary. Experts tell us what’s expected is wrong, possibly harmful, yet the push continues. I wonder if The Alliance for Childhood (great group) would take this up? Lately their focus has been on the importance of play. We’re called to nurture the little ones in our care & that means being a voice for them. Hang strong everyone~yours is a noble profession! ♥
Mary Hewitt 
We do NWEA – in lower grades but’s not valid – in my opinion the first year you test listening and computer skills. I have had top kids test poorly and kids that struggle guess well. I have taught k for 4 years and do testing 5 times a year – seeing what letters know – I test a few sounds if they don’t get those right I know they don’t know any – and then later in the year I test more skills. We need to stop expecting all kids to be readers coming into and leaving K – some just don’t have cognative abilities and are NOT ready for it. Yes some are, but look when other countries like Europe start school – 7!  Before that it’s mostly social and it should be.
Natalie Oakum Adams
I left teaching kindergarten because of many reasons above. It just didnt feel like the way I feel kindergarten should be.. we hardly had any time for play, just a lot of workbooks & incredibly high demands, not that I didn’t set high expectations for my students, because I did, but it just wasnt fun anymore. I didn’t have many/any students who really cared or even understood what subjects & predicates are. And I have been teaching that age group since 1990. It just makes me sad for teachers & students 😦

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