State Testing & SLPs (my thoughts, feelings, and ideas)

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Whether we like it or not, if you work in the schools you are impacted by state testing.

Every state does it differently but has the same purpose…to determine the effectiveness of the teaches by assessing the growth and progress of students.  Is that fair?  That people who are not in the classroom are creating tests and determining the effectiveness of educators?  I certainly don't think this is fair.

Some states create tests that are fair and others do not.  Either way, teachers are forced to teach to the test.  They are basing their lessons and objectives to the standards set by the state and will  be used to assess the students at the end of the year (or close to the end).

Some states are having districts “buy” their curriculum with the expectation that it will prepare the students more for the test.  UM HELLO again…teaching to the test!  What does this mean for classroom teachers?  Less time to work on skills, less time for projects and lessons that tap into creativity/other modes of learning.  Teachers are forced to use this curriculum no what what reading level these students are on.

What does this mean for SLPs?

More students are viewed as “struggling” because they are not able to meet the standards set by the state.  Teachers are trying to cover their behinds and are recommending more and more students for services.

Things to think about:

  • Are the students struggling with the harder demands vs. do they have the fundamental language skills expected for their age/grade?
  • Is it a reading issue or a language issue?
  • Are the teachers just teaching to the tests or teaching the skills required to perform?
I asked various SLPs that work around the country to see if they are dealing with similar issues.  They all agreed that they deal with the same things at different extents.  Some states have not asked districts to “buy” their curriculum but some said they can see their states/districts doing that in the future.
How do I tackle this issue?
  • I keep my sessions fun and motivating
  • I try to show my students that learning can be fun
  • I try to show my students they can “get it!”
  • I use reading materials/texts that are at their level and with motivating topics/themes
  • Constant positive reinforcement!  Students need to feel like they are recognized for trying and putting forth the effort.
Now…let's try to be glass is half full.  What are the benefits of this for us?
  • Easier to tap into the curriculum when everyone is doing the same thing!
  • Easy to predict where speech and language students will struggle and can develop strategies for teachers
  • SLPs get to be the “go to professionals” for working on skills…and we get to be the hero!
  • We get to use our predicting skills and try and figure out what they will try next!