This week our school gave the California High School Exit Exam to the sophomores (with few exceptions, they're the only ones who take the test).
Before I go any further, I have to give some credit to the superb planning and organization of one of our vice principals. He's got the issuing of materials, the daily instructions, the collection of materials, the "things to pay close attention to", and most of the questions anyone could come up with dealt with in advance. All the work he put in on the front end made the teacher's end a breeze. It's important to recognize when administrators do something well because usually their work is only noticed when they do something stupid.
But back to the story. We have 432 sophomores at our school and only 21 missed one or both days of testing. That means that we had over 95% of them present.
Interesting, isn't it, when there are some stakes attached to the tests?
I'm of the belief that our state standardized testing should also have some stakes attached to it, whether those stakes be carrots or sticks. Honestly, what stake does the student have to do well? I rely on my personal rapport with students to ask and insist that they take the tests and do well, but I don't reach all of my students and I'm sure that not all teachers do what I do. The result is haphazard at best; my school doesn't do too badly, but there are plenty of schools out there....
There's got to be a better way.