Ah, testing! When I hear the word testing, I get excited. I get excited to know what I will not be teaching my students who need me…I get excited because I get to sit in the quiet library all day and listen to interpreters speak different languages…I get excited because my job doesn’t matter.
My time with students as an ELL teacher has been dwindling with each passing year. Being at three buildings has also forced my time to look differently over the years. I have been told that my job is important and that I am needed but I see my students less and less.
Currently, I’m sitting in the library at my school watching a student take the AIR assessment. He finally has someone he can communicate with in his first language, Thai. I have asked for someone to come and help him and his sister, but it took a high stakes test to get that someone. He was so excited to speak to someone who understood him.
During the ELPA testing window (English Language Proficiency Assessment), I lost almost five weeks of instruction with my students. I had to travel from school to school giving each of my approximately 65 students four parts of the assessment. I didn’t become a teacher so I could just test students all the time. If I’m not giving high stakes assessments, I am giving district assessments to see progress and to guide instruction.
Now that I am giving the AIR assessments, I’m losing more time. I am being pulled from my students to give the tests for 14 days. Interpreter schedules and needs to students has increased my time away from other students. Why did AIR do away with their one-year exemption for ELL students in a US school less than 180 days?! Why do we need to give them the English Language Arts tests when they cannot read English? Are we just providing them with undue stress and failure? I’ve sat in front of students who cry, who get upset and who just give up. The last thing my students need to feel is inadequate.
I thoroughly enjoy being an ELL teacher but I am not sure if I’d recommend it to someone today. In order to teach my students, I need to be with them. Something needs to change soon or more teachers will leave the profession due to the increase in testing and decrease in actual teaching.
Some articles for reading…
Students Take Too Many Redundant Tests; Study Finds by Denisa R. Superville
How Much Testing is Too Much? by Erik Robelen