Long gone are the days when you begin to take standardized tests once you reach high school. As part of the Common Core, kindergarten students are now being subjected to STAR testing (Standardized Testing and Reporting). Taking place late in the school year, this does not make their teachers happy at all.
STAR testing is used as a measure to see how well the teacher is doing his or her job. There isn’t much a teacher can do to prep kindergarten students. It is really just a measure of what they have learned all year. Unfortunately, the test is not as straightforward as it would seem. Questions get progressively harder every time a student answers one correctly. There are also questions on the test that relate to subject matter that has not yet been taught. This puts teachers at a loss for what to do.
The class is broken in half, with one group going with the teacher to the computer lab to take the test on one day. The second group will go the next day. Students are often too young to understand the importance of this test. While it might seem like a game to them, teachers’ jobs depend on it. If a student that young can’t concentrate, or is just too immature to take a test of this nature, it does not accurately reflect what the teacher has taught all year. This can have an incredible negative impact on a teacher’s ability to get or maintain their job.
It all comes back to accountability. When is the right time to start testing students? Is kindergarten too soon? Is there a better way to prepare these students? The best we can do for now is to keep a dialogue open on the topic. In time we may arrive at answers that work for everyone. Until then, we continue to welcome every new kindergarten class, year after year, and see how they progress as they move through each grade.