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Peaking at the right time?

24 Oct

As I watch students silently take their state assessments this morning, I couldn’t help but think about the problems of this sort of high-stakes testing.  Is this an accurate measure of a student’s ability?  Can four days of filling in bubbles in a silent room be the determiner of a school’s effectiveness?  Is 8:30 am the best time to test?  I’m sure we could all go on.

This morning was completely dark when I woke up.  I spent fifteen minutes in bed thinking about how I longed for daylight savings to allow the clock to fall back and let me see the sun!

Now I had time to get myself ready and have a coffee, of course, before beginning my workday.  What about the student who told me that she barely caught the bus as it was pulling away and had no time for breakfast, so a glass of milk would have to do?

Reading an article on Yahoo! made me think about the optimal times for doing our various daily activities – “Could you pack more into each day if you did everything at the optimal time?”  Middle school students are still in sleep mode until after 9:00 am. Research shows that to optimize performance we should be starting school later to match the circadian rhythms of our students.

With so much riding on these tests, isn’t it time that we explored different options for the times that we test?  How can we do our best to guarantee that each student has a chance to succeed and help our school to succeed?

Should we be incorporating this information into the making of schedules?  If our goal as teachers is truly to help students learn, shouldn’t we take that into consideration when planning schedules?  Should schedules be individualized and not done at random?