Yes, it’s another blog post about testing! It’s that time of the year where a young child’s dreams turn to filling in bubbles, #2 pencils, and hearing the word  “map” with no map in front of them.

Now, I’m not going to go off on the testing system in place (though I should) nor will I go off on Iowa’s current idea of testing kindergartener and high school juniors (again, though I should).  Instead, I’d like to talk about time.

This year, my students will have taken the Iowa Assessments (formerly ITBS) for appromoixately 4 hours total during their testing week in early November.  They took their MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) in August with math and reading, two hours total.  In January, they took these same tests, for another two hours, and over these next two weeks, they’ll take the reading, math, and language arts test, so three hours.  For our year of testing, we spend around eleven hours of time doing this, give or take some time.

Now, I know I need some data for my students, and this is one way of finding out where my students fall in the general scheme of things.  However, as I think about 11 hours, almost a day and a half, how could that time have been spent in my room?

Well we could use it in:

– 11 sessions of science for both fifth grade sections @30 minutes per time. (I see them 45 minutes once every six days for science).

– 33 extra recess times @ 20 minutes a piece. (research is showing more active students retain more).

– 66 days where we’d be able to spend 10 extra minutes eating lunch (20 minutes right now, but many times cut short because of scheduling).

– 132 five minute brain breaks!

I could go on and on with this.  My point is, testing happens, I know it, you know it, and we’ve all done it in our times.  However, instead of using 11 hours, or 660 minutes, could there be a better use of that time? Or even half of it? Is this truly what’s best for kids?

So I ask you, what would you do with 11 extra hours to spend in your classroom years?