Please Join Today!
view counter

Post-Test Dilemma

By Alesha Jackson on Apr 22, 2009 09:39 AM
Photo: Photo by Natala007

Teacher shows off a creative classroom. 

In a recent visit to a school, I watched an eighth-grade math teacher move with his students through a lesson on quadratic equations. About halfway through, he called on a student to answer. That student then selected the next participant, and so on. It was a fun way to keep the class on their toes, because no kid knew if he would be called on next. After watching the entire class, I inquired about how the teacher had come up with the system.

“I’m desperate,” he said. “The PSSA is over, and half of the class has failed more than one marking period. They’ve said to me, ‘Why does this matter? I’m going to summer school anyway.’” Turns out that lots of the kids guessed that they hadn’t done so great on the PSSA. Coupled with lagging grades, many students had unofficially checked out. 

So what’s a teacher to do? They’ve got a class full of students whose interest is waning. And without the headache of daily test prep, teachers are now forced to reexamine how they work from day to day. In schools where preparing for the state test is its first priority, what happens in classrooms once the test is over? More importantly, how can teachers re-capture engagement to pull them through to June 19?

“I need a gimmick,” he said.

Some teachers, freed from the constraints of fill-in-the blank, can move on to project-based activities. Or, if they hadn’t already, they could take the second half of the year to really get to know their students through units of study that originated from the students themselves. For many, this time in the school year marks a return to “real” teaching—teaching that originates more organically, interrupting the skill-and-drill pacing calendars from the year’s start. Their "gimmick"-- real teaching-- can bring a challenging school year full circle.

One downside to such a switch is getting students to take this new type of work seriously. For teachers, it can also mean dodging doubts from administrators who may wonder if rigor is sacrificed for the sake of interest.  

In another school that same week, a pulled fire alarm sent the entire school out to wait for the fire department in the rain. Watching a teacher shake out her coat, I overheard her laugh to another teacher, “Now it begins!”

Does the end of the test signal the end of “real” work for the students?  How might teachers resolve this post-test crisis?  What’s happening in classrooms once the test is over?

I’d love to hear about what’s happening in your schools. Weigh in here by leaving a comment or emailing me at  

Click Here
view counter

Comments (2)

Submitted by scwcd dumps (not verified) on April 20, 2010 7:19 am

Thanks for this account. I think your statement about "willful neglect" is right on the money. The district knows that these problems exist. They simply choose to ignore it. A perfect case in point is the absence of anyone from the SRC. Unfortunately, court cases don't go away just because you bury your head in the sand. I'm so happy that the feds are investigating the incidents at S. Philly High. An expensive judgement against the district will, unfortunately, spur action. It's just sad that it has to come to this but it's obvious that change will come no other way

Submitted by Robert Watss (not verified) on March 16, 2015 4:57 am

You are in great form on this picture. Your hands shows to us that you are happy. Glad to know that. Magazyny wrocław

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable. We reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of this rule, and to ban anyone who violates this rule. Please see our "Terms of Usage" for more detail concerning your obligations as a user of this service. Reader comments are limited to 500 words. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Follow Us On

Read the latest print issue

Philly Ed Feed

Recent Comments


Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy