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Field Paper Proposal

Lchase's picture

For my field paper the question I will be addressing is how much teaching towards the test hinders the student’s ability to critically think. I also wanted to include how much these policies hinder the school in general but I am not sure how to do so. While at Oakley* Elementary School I have continuously experienced structured lesson plans that do not leave room for change. I have been going to my placement weekly and sometimes biweekly (Tuesday’s and Friday’s) and have experienced the same structure every time. This structure revolves around direct teaching and how to prepare for their tests (although this is interpreted and not directly stated). The students work out of their writing workbooks ranging from worksheets about basic grammar to worksheets about readings. After, they take a spelling quiz with words derived from their weekly readings. Then, Ms. G* uses a smart-board to read to the students a new story. She does take time and explain to the students what is occurring and how to analyze it but the worksheets that are used tend to focus on copy paste answers. One specific lesson plan was focused on comprehending a story about bats but the students were extremely uncomfortable with this section and asked me for help more often then usual. They read the worksheet which explained the order in which the story is told and told me “that’s not in the book!” The worksheet summarized the book but the students were not able to follow this connection because they were so accustom to copy paste answers—direct teaching and learning?

Another incident that has me awestruck happened this week. Two students were in a physical fight but the teachers were unable to do anything other than stop the fight. The counselor was not on campus this day—this school switches between having a nurse or counselor on campus—and the lunch ladies (this happened at lunch) did not want to tell the principal yet because they knew there was nothing that could be done. I was confused so I asked one of the ladies explain and the lady said that the students were not going to be able to be suspended because they were taking their standardized testing this week and they cannot miss them. The students that were in a fight were not talked to, counseled, or anything. I am not sure what is going to happen after testing or what the principal has to say about this but I thought it was extremely important and interesting.



jccohen's picture


That's a very telling incident about the fight - this story captures some of the key issues around testing, and would make a compelling vignette for a paper on testing as a critical element of the school environment.  It sounds to me like your observations would go a long way toward describing the culture of the school as heavily influenced by standardized testing.  You could look at this in the context of the whole school, using the fight as an example, and then in the context of this classroom.  Are there other indicators in the school at large of the heavy presence of testing?  You might also try to interview/talk with your classroom teacher and maybe another adult or two in the school, posing this question about the impact of the testing on the school environment.