Six students and how they work after CSAP Tests

There were the two weeks of nothing but CSAP testing in March.  And then there was a ragged week of make-up tests mixed with remnants of projects and curricular themes still remembered that were cobbled together in those four days of the last week of school before spring break.

Returning to school as we turned the page to April, how did our six students restart and recover from this long pause that featured such intense scrutiny of what they had learned?

Mason has been mostly adrift, unable to remember his enthusiasm for the Marco Polo report he started sometime in March.  He has spent a lot of time in the puzzle corner, succesfully avoiding the lessons about decimal numbers that I have been trying to give fourth graders.  I finally insisted that he attend one, but have not seen any follow-up work or indication that it is on his radar.  He has dutifully done his homework and the follow-up writing.  In general, however, the fires of interest are eerily missing.

Rosalee has returned to her passion—writing, especially reports.  She has a friend about 10 steps ahead of her in terms of both writing and thinking skills, but she eagerly pursues that friend to work with her and sometimes perseveres when the friend tires of the project.  Currently she is finishing a report on Barack Obama, having gathered from newspapers and magazines in our files a respectable number of facts about him and organized them in a reasonable sequence.  She likes all the parts of preparing a report:  collecting facts on little slips of paper, organizing them in piles for paragraphs, writing a rough draft and having me read it with her (and partner, who is still less interested), typing it up, printing it, drawing pictures or collecting things for her poster board, cutting and pasting lots of colored paper together for the display board and the cover of her report.  It is no surprise that her strides with the English language are huge.  There seems to have been little disruption of this passion.  There has been, however, a total loss of interest in math that I thought was just beginning to occupy a little corner of her mind prior to the tests.

Fifth grader Louis has lost no momentum, eager for lessons in math and geometry, abstracting as fast as he can so that he can go on to the next lesson.  Even passionage about sentence diagramming, and writing a report that is longer than any he has written before—building confidence in all areas.  Much of this may be attributable to the fact that he has been accepted at a prestigious middle school for next year.

Amanda, too, seems to have maintained her momentum, going back to some of the math and geometry work she was doing before the tests, understanding with repetition just a little more each time.  Her grasp of math and geometry concepts is tenuous, but she is tenancious about holding on to what she can understand about them and doing some more of the same.  Her writing output seems somewhat less, but she has been enthusiastically reading a literature study book that all the fifth grade girls are also reading.

Jonas, sixth grader, stays about the same—putting as little effort into his academic endeavors as is humanly possible while still staying out of trouble.  He does seem more engaged when he is working with younger or less capable students, teaching them something he knows.  The testing seems to have had no impact.  I’m sure he thinks he “aced” it.

Melissa seems more confident than she was a month ago.  She has abstracted decimal operations and mixed number operations; she has begun to work indendently with squaring and square root, using materials.  She is stalled on a report that was begun before the tests, but more from social distractions than work avoidance.  She has scored well on several short tests about the human body, a unit of study especially to help sixth graders get ready for recall tests.  In general, the CSAP experience didn’t seem to have much impact.

I am surprised.  Mason seems to be the only student whose momentum was seriously compromised by that lost month.  Maybe during this coming week I can help him restart his engine and get engaged again.  .  .with something he cares about.  Maybe I can find out if his confidence is shaken and help to restore it.

If only one of six has been negatively impacted by the two weeks of state-mandated testing, then there are probably only about 5 to 7 students in the class who need my attention in helping them recover.  I think I know who they are.  Unfortunately I have just gotten a notice that next week—-a week from tomorrow and exactly one month of Mondays after the last CSAP test finished, there will be a week of “Benchmark tests” to measure progress since September, when we took the first round of those tests.  DPS requirement!

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