Taking the stress out of FCAT
Our friends on the Gradebook blog shared here what was probably a well-intentioned effort to reduce students' stress with April's FCAT testing approaching (April 16-27), but I expect students will not be calmed by this.
The Florida Department of Education's Florida School Speak blog put up a post recently offering teachers some ideas to "help encourage your students and reduce their anxiety levels." Gee, you don't think that such a kit coming from teachers, whose performance is measured in part through their students' learning gains, will come off as a little desperate?
They offered this
Test Taking Survival Kit:
Place these items in a bag and attach a note explaining each one…
1 Starburst… Shine like a STAR today
1 Eraser… to get rid of those brain freezes!
2 Pencils… to record all the knowledge you have learned!
1 stick of gum… to remind you to stick with it!
1 highlighter… to highlight all you have learned!
1 Hershey’s Hug.. for all your hard work!
Umm, nice thought, but that only makes it clearer to students how stressed out their teachers are about this high-stakes test.
Nothing breaks my heart more than to hear a kid stressing about taking this test. I once brought my carpool of 5 kids to silence when I said, "You do realize that even if you completely bomb this test, it will have no effect on you or your grades, right?" (these kids weren't in 3rd or 10th grades, so I was correct) I was met with silence. "What do you mean it doesn't matter?" It won't effect you one bit. It affects your school and your teacher, sure. But know that if you just do your best, that's all anyone is asking.
Meanwhile, my second tactic is to point out that my kids LOVE FCAT week. There's no homework. Recess returns to help clear the cobwebs. They have snacks. It's everything school should be if they didn't spend the rest of the year doing practice sheets for this darn test.
So as a veteran of test week, I offer this advice to parents: Keep pointing out how easy FCAT week is. It's like a week off where you just have to take a test to show what you learned. Easy peasy. Enjoy the snacks and recess.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma