Monday, March 31, 2014

Elementary Music: Standardized Testing

As a bright eyed naive Elementary Music Ed major I never anticipated the idea that some day I may have to administer a standardized test to my little ones.  I remember sitting in my elementary methods class enjoying every minute of getting to play with my colleagues while vividly imagining how I would one day be leading my own group of little ones through a magical, music experience.  Although I don't completely despise the idea of testing for music, I'm not exactly excited about the idea of administering a test next year, and it certainly was something that I never thought I would have to do.

There are so many factors that are weighing heavily on my mind as we move towards this new process.  I'm worried about my students anxiety about testing, the fact that I will see them even more infrequently because our school is growing so rapidly, how to catch them up when they are absent or pulled from my room for one reason or another, and am I doing enough to prepare them for this whole new process.  I know I'm probably over thinking this and a lot of what I'm feeling is anxiety about the unknown but it's something that has been in the back of my mind.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on testing in the elementary music room.  What do you see as the positives/negatives?  Is standardized testing a part of your reality?  How does it work in your state/county/city?    


  1. I am in Jacksonville, FL and we have been testing in music for a while now. At first, we tested grades 2 and 5, this year it is 4 and 5. This year, we administered a pre-test in the fall. We were supposed to have a mid-year test but that was cancelled. We have received data on our pre-test that has been helpful, linking it to benchmarks. Music is scheduled for 45 minutes once a week, however that dwindles when they cancel resource for various other reasons. I probably see them 7 times a quarter. Our evaluation is part of the assessment results, so yes, it does make me a little anxious.

    1. It's interesting to hear how testing is being done other places in FL. As of right now, the plan is to test all students K-5 starting next year and it will be a computer based assessment. It's nice that you are receiving feedback, I imagine that is very helpful in prepping your kids for the post test. I hear you on time dwindling. I see my kids for on average 6 lessons a marking period and it will be less next year with our growth. On top of that kids are pulled for various reasons; testing, interventions,etc. While all of these things are important, it makes me anxious because of the limited time I see them to begin with.
      Are your tests content or performance? The last I heard we are going to be doing a bit of both.

  2. Thank you for an honest and heartfelt blog post! At my school, we've been testing our students for the last two years. I know that the term "testing" can have a variety of meanings in this day and age. In my case, we are required to give a pre-test and post-test, not to help drive instruction, but to aide the administration in deciding our salaries. A portion of our students' test scores determines how much of a raise we get.

    I believe that testing (a test created by the teacher, not the state) has its place, but I believe testing has absolutely no benefit to education when it's issued by the state and used for the sole purpose of grading teachers and schools. I figure, if I only see my students for 50 minutes a week, I want to be teaching, not testing :)

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that you are in that predicament. To be honest, I think that's where my county is heading with these tests. I'm all for accountability because I have seen what happens when "some" teachers are kept in positions due to tenure but I hate that the only solution anyone seems to be able to come up with is taking time away from making music to take a test. Hopefully there will be some good that comes from this but for now I can only wait and see.


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