Welcome to OGTweek in Ohio! Or, as I like to call it: Oh gee, Test! The Ohio Graduation Test or OGT test, as some folks like to redundantly call it, is a spring ritual in all of the high schools. Really, who would say Ohio Graduation Test test?
The test is a big deal. Students need it to graduate. If they don’t achieve a passing grade (I’ve heard that it is about a 50%), in all five of the subject areas (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies) after 7 tries, they do not graduate.
Of course, if students perform poorly, the schools receive lower grades on their report cards issued by the state. Even if a student finishes his reading test in ten minutes in order to nap. After all, today was National Nap Day. Or, even if a student finishes in fifteen minutes in order to get her car back to a family member who needs it. I guess the family skipped the problem involving how to take a school bus or drop-a-kid-off-at-school-and-keep-the-car–for-yourself question. Or a student decides to drink half a bottle of vodka for breakfast to calm his nerves. Did you know that we have to seal the tests that have puke or blood on them? Then we send them to the Ohio State Department of Education. I wonder who gets to open them?
Need less to say, we begin preparing the kids for these standardized tests in second grade. Believe me, by the time they are in tenth grade, they can stay within the lines of the little circle on the answer sheet. However, it is not just the kids who have to prepare for the test. The schools do, too.
First, we have to design a schedule for the test days. In order to have a quiet, safe, and test friendly environment, we start school two and half hours later for the other 75% of the school. Then, we have 27-minute class periods to minimize instruction and maximize testing. Of course, I have left out the hours of meeting for our staff members who have degrees in counseling. Instead of working one-on-one or in small groups with troubled teens, they get to organize this titanic testing process.
Well, day one is done and except for about five little hiccups, all went well. Although I write with a sarcastic tone, I do see value in an assessment as a way to determine a student’s strengths and weaknesses. I also see how can be used to help a school or teacher analyze the job being done. However, it is not the only type of assessment that should be used.
I am curious to your thoughts. I know some of you are in other states of America, and in other countries. What do you think would be a good system?