Ok, this is a letter I wrote Tom Horne our state superintendent of public schools at the beginning of June. He has never written me back. So, now I am posting it here in, what is it? the blogosphere. This problem really ticks me off.
Dear Tom Horne,
I am writing to express my concern to you about the timing of AIMS DPA testing. I am a parent of elementary age children as well as an elementary school teacher.
My concern is that the timing of AIMS DPA is causing difficulty for students and educators. As a result of early April testing dates, the entire set of standards for each grade must be taught by the end of March. As I work on my curriculum map, I feel strongly that it is a misuse of time to rush through challenging lessons with my students, not allowing them the necessary time to develop their understanding of standards and concepts. However, in order to teach all standards before AIMS, that is exactly what I must do.
Additionally, attempting to teach all standards before AIMS leaves the rest of the school year, the duration of April and May, to “fill in” rather than teach. Depending on the school that I have been at, I have been instructed to either begin teaching the next year’s curriculum, or go back and cover the “less important” standards that I had to bypass in order to ensure students achieved understanding of certain “power” standards that are covered more strenuously on AIMS. In each case, the students (I teach 6th grade.) seemed to believe that schoolwork was no longer important, because they had already completed their testing for the year.
Finally, I understand that it is important to have timely results of assessment. However, at this time, test results become available in June. While I’m sure that there is much going on that I am not aware of, it seems that the middle of summer is an odd time for test results. I have spent some amount of time researching on the Department of Education website to try to discover the relevance of the test schedule. I have been unsuccessful. It seems to me that if AIMS were completed either at the end of April or beginning of May, more time would be available to teach the standards, less of the school year would be wasted on teaching what will be re-taught the next year, or should have been taught earlier in the year, and students would not experience the level of “check-out” that they seem to at this time.
I greatly appreciate you taking your valuable time to read my concerns. I have spoken with many, many educators who feel similarly about this situation. I have yet to hear a convincing argument that negates my concerns. I would appreciate your input on this matter that deeply distresses me.