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State Mandated End of Course Tests: What Is This Doing to Classroom Teaching?

Amy Brown is the author of the blog called “Science Stuff”.  Amy has 27 years of teaching experience in high school biology, chemistry, and AP biology.  Her blog is about ways to make your class more engaging and exciting for the students.  You can find her blog at:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/


Today in school, my Biology I students had to take the EOC.  What is an EOC?  It is the bane of my existence!!  For those of you who don't know, EOC stands for "End of Course" exam. In my state, every student must take EOC's in certain courses.  We still have three weeks of school left, but the EOC was given today.  Why, you ask??  Because the exams have to be sent to our state department of education and graded.  We MUST get the scores back before the end of the year.  Why, you ask??  So that the EOC can count 20% of their semester average.  Call me crazy, but this seems a bit much to me.

Here are my complaints with a state mandated "End of Course" exam:
1.   Who writes the questions on the EOC?  Certainly not me.  Is this fair to my students?  I don't think so.  I valued the information years ago, when we gave "achievement tests".  I could look at these test scores and see how my students were performing against various benchmarks.  This information let me know what I needed to do differently.
2.  I have a problem with the EOC counting 20% of the semester grade.  My final exam will count only 10%.  And 70% of the semester grade will come from the work done in my class during the course of the semester.  The questions on the EOC are written by some anonymous face that I will never see, and some of the questions are really bad.  I often think that whoever writes these questions must not know anything about biology!
3.   Teachers are forced to be automatons of information.  Many of the really fun and exciting things that I used to do in the lab have fallen by the wayside.  We are in a race against time to teach volumes of information.  Does this get kids excited about science?  NO!  Give me back some time for creativity.  Give me back some time to take the kids to the lab so that I can teach them what science is really about.

I understand all about accountability.  I understand that the "powers that be" want to make sure that every teacher in the state is teaching a core set of objectives.  I think this is a mistake.  Just as asexual reproduction produces offspring with no variation, mandated state testing is producing students who are clones.  Every biology teacher worth their salt knows that variation is key to adaptation.

It is my belief that we will eventually realize that the massive testing of students at the end of each school year is a mistake.  Students are not going to remember the volumes of information that we cram down their throats prior to the EOC.  Along the way, the teaching of critical thinking and problem solving skills are being lost in favor of fact after fact after fact.  An education does not consist of a set of facts.  A good education consists of the ability to be able to think and respond, not recite back facts.

I hope that you will visit my blog and become a follower.  My blog is called "Science Stuff" and can be reached here:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/.  

You can also visit my TeachersPayTeachers.com store here:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Science-Stuff

My blog has links to quite a few FREE products that can be fun activities for both middle and high school science students.  I hope to see you there!


2 comments

  1. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a guest blogger today!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed my quick visit to your blog today. I will be back. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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