At RHS, testing season has arrivedPlenty of students have nightmares about taking tests. Kim Budde has been having nightmares about giving them. That’s a big thing this time of year. Budde is an assistant principal at Rosemount High School, and this is the heart of testing season. For students, that means a schedule filled with standardized exams identified by acronyms — SAT, ACT, AP — and includes two days of standardized tests next week to determine whether they’ll get to graduate and how their school is progressing toward national No Child Left Behind goals
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
Plenty of students have nightmares about taking tests. Kim Budde has been having nightmares about giving them.
That’s a big thing this time of year. Budde is an assistant principal at Rosemount High School, and this is the heart of testing season. For students, that means a schedule filled with standardized exams identified by acronyms — SAT, ACT, AP — and includes two days of standardized tests next week to determine whether they’ll get to graduate and how their school is progressing toward national No Child Left Behind goals. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors will take two parts of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment and Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma tests on April 13 and the other two on April 14.
Seniors, the only grade not taking the tests next week, will get a late start.
For Budde, the arrival of the MCA and GRAD exams mean a month of locking her office door whenever she leaves to make sure nobody but her has access to the 24 boxes of test materials that are currently making a small space even more cramped. It also means months of administering retakes for students who miss a day, or who have to make another attempt the part of the test that will determine whether they will get a diploma.
“Testing is not just a one-shot deal anymore. It’s evolving into a big process,” Budde said.
Budde said the school does what it can to create a relaxed testing environment. Teachers talk to students about the importance of the tests and help them understand the format of the questions they’ll be asked as well as the specific ways they’ll be expected to answer. For the most part, though, the preparation should be done by this point. Both the MCA and the GRAD are meant to determine whether students have learned the the things they are supposed to know by this point. Independent School District 196 has adjusted its curriculum to make sure students aren’t tested on material they haven’t yet covered in class, but beyond that there is not a lot of preparation to do. Either students have learned or they haven’t.
The tests students will take next month are serious business, though. Budde has to control access to the materials before the test, and teachers who administer the tests have to receive training to ensure they do it properly.
Most RHS students do well enough to pass the GRAD test on their first try. For those who don’t, there are remediation sessions and retakes. In order to graduate students have to take the GRAD writing test until they pass. Students who don’t pass the GRAD math test have to attend study sessions, retake the test at least twice and show adequate progress in order to receive their diploma.
The cycle of testing can seem endless at times, and it can mean student spending a lot of time outside of their regular classes. It’s a situation nobody much enjoys.
“They don’t like to take it. I don’t like to give it to someone who’s not excited to be taking the test again,” Budde said. “I feel like I do a lot of pep talks.”
The MCA and GRAD are only part of the equation. There are a number of other tests given this time of year — the SAT and ACT tests for students starting their college application process, the Measures of Academic Progress Test and Advanced Placement testing the first week of May. The MCA science test is up after that.
It can seem overwhelming, but because different grades take different tests the burden should never be too great on individual students.
It’s the MCA and the GRAD that are the big ones, though. Those are the ones that have Budde losing sleep over missing test packets and have her joking about making up t-shirts that read “I (Heart) Testing.” Those are the ones with strict rules about how test materials must be handled.
“If you have somebody throw up on a test, you have to put it in a bag and seal it and write a dissertation about why there’s vomit on it,” Budde said. “The day the test books are out of my hand is a good day.”