Does State Testing Fit in the Reading Workshop asked me to stop and reflect on this question. After looking at my data and realizing my students really were missing key concepts, I did choose to give up two days of my reading workshop for the past four weeks. I did choose my verb carefully: give up. I gave my state test (OAA) long practice test in December, and I am giving a similar test again this week so I can compare my data. I taught four focus lessons over the past four weeks. The four focus lessons that my data showed my students needed were: main idea with support from the text, identifying figurative language, sequence test (which came before/after) and extended 4 point written questions.
I have to admit I was saddened by the first three areas that my students needed help with on the state tests. I would have thought my instruction throughout the year would have helped the students be stronger in those areas. We have focused on those skills in all of our read alouds, small/whole group lessons, Poetry Friday mini lessons etc. I am left to wonder and question: Was it the way I instructed my students? Was there enough individual practice for the students? Or could it possibly be the way the OAA test questions are written or possibly the text choices made for the OAA test?
I am accepting responsibility for the 4 point questions, I have to admit I had not focused on longer extended responses until 4 weeks ago. We had done many 2 point questions and overall my class did well on those types of questions. I also know from the data that I need to have my students work alone more on test prep. In the beginning, I would lead the lesson, discuss the questions and then have them finish. Now I give the the OAA prompt - have the students complete it on their own-discuss as a class and finally make a professional decision what is next for instruction. This week I will be giving the OAA reading test for a second time. This test could possibly take 2 1/2 hours out of my class time on Thursday. I will compare my data and then use the next 4 weeks for more test prep during my reading workshop. High stakes testing is here to stay, and I need to allow my students the best opportunity to perform well on the test-right now this is where I am living. What do you think?