Ten Week Testing
Ten week testing is no doubt the source of relentless conflict and controversy in schools locally and on a national scale. I’ve been taking ten-week tests for about two or three years now, and after thinking about it for a while I can’t really figure out what is too bad about them. I know they can be a nuisance to take, but there are probably many benefits if we have them. I wanted to explore this more, so I decided to go to my teachers. I decided that it might even be more effective to go to them than the students. I mean, they make the tests, hand them out, grade them, and assess how we do on them so they must have a pretty good understanding on how these tests work. One of the main things that constantly came up when I was interviewing teachers was the issue of time. Mr. Haier, an 8th grade math teacher at our school said, “Ten week tests are a waste of time. They take almost a week to get all of them finished, and that is a week that we aren’t doing any work in class. We should get rid of them.” While I do definitely agree that ten week tests do take a lot of time, does that necessarily mean that we should get rid of them? Another teacher at our school, Mr. Lallier (a 7th grade Social Studies teacher) said, “There's also the time issue related to our quarterly week exams. If you take away one day to review - one day to give the exam - and one day to go over it - you've lost 3 days each quarter. This would be 12 per year or roughly 2.5 weeks of the school year - just on our quarterly exams.” We can see from this statement and Mr. Haier’s that ten-week tests definitely take up time. Maybe instead of getting rid of them we can find a more effective way to do ten week tests that does not take too much time.
After I learned this I realized there must be some pretty good reasons why we have ten week tests if they do take up so much time. When talking to Mr. Lallier again,d he said, “Secondly - do my students have the comprehension, understanding and the skills that I hope they have? If I don't test them - then how would I know? I guess I could use my unit comprehension tests - but with the quarterly exams I get to see a bigger picture of what my students know and can do. If I see that I have a student that did poorly on a quarterly exam, I now know that I need to make sure to monitor them a little more closely as we move into the next quarter. If I have many students that did poorly - then I need to go back and look at how I'm teaching (or helping my students learn).” I thought this was an excellent point to make. If we don’t have tests every ten weeks then how are we going to know what we learned and what we didn’t? If we just had midterms and finals how would we know if we efficiently learned the material from the first and third marking period? Ten week test are really just being used to help us as students. They monitor our progress and show us what we need to go over when we do poorly on them. Mrs. Horwat, a 7th grade English teacher at our school said, “They certainly provide valuable information about a student’s progress meeting learning targets that I set for the 10 weeks of instruction. I also like how the results can’t be changed and count for 15 percent of the student’s grade; I think this theoretically would be an accurate reflection of the student’s progress as well as an incentive to put a little more effort into his or her performance and studying.” If we get a bad grade on our ten week tests it definitely does affect our grades, considering that it is 15% of our grade. To me, 15% makes sense though, because ten week tests are basically seeing if we learnt anything from the ten week period. If we did poorly on them, maybe we just had trouble understanding it or we weren’t putting forth enough effort.
Ten week tests don’t only help the teachers help us, they help us help ourselves. I believe ten week tests are a good way for us to learn. To me they are much more effective than just having a midterm and a final. I think if we looked more at the positives of ten week testing, they wouldn’t be much of a nuisance at all.