Preparing Kids for State Tests: Less Time Than We Think!


All fifty states in the country are required to administer state assessments at the end of the school year to comply with the accountability measures laid out by the federal government. For example, all states MUST test students in English Language Arts (ELA) and math every year in grades 3-8 and also in social studies and science two times within that grade band. In addition, all states must require state tests in math and English at least one time in high school. Logically, schools want as many instructional days as possible to prepare their students for these high stakes tests that have serious implications for students, parents, buildings and districts across the United States. Given the traditional school calendar, school should be able to count on 180 days of instruction to prepare kids, right? Well, for numerous reasons, schools rarely, if ever, have even one student in attendance ready for instruction for 180 school days. In fact, when we look at all of the factors involved, the typical student is likely in their seat and available for instruction anywhere from 140 to 150 days every school year. Let's take a look at why.

The Moving Target May Be Moving Again

The Ohio State Board of Education has been discussing changing new state graduation requirements…that have not gone into effect yet! After a 30 plus year career in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent it seems the educational targets from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) are constantly moving. While it must be said that I respect policy makers for potentially correcting a wrong rather than stubbornly sticking to a mistake, it is not a good look. Protests from superintendents and local school boards from around the state signal a potential “dropout crisis” for the Class of 2018 unless the issue is addressed. Ohio as a state has a graduation rate that has been steadily rising the past several years and is in lock step with the national average at about 82%. Many educators fear that number could drop significantly unless adjustments are made. Moreover, some suburban districts who typically enjoy graduation rates between 96-98% are predicting a drop to 70-75% of their current juniors in some cases.