At Norwalk Catholic elementary, as with all schools, we are currently taking our fall benchmark assessments. One such assessment we give to students is called the MAP test, which stands for Measures of Academic Progress. This assessment, which includes the areas of reading, math, language arts, and science, is one type of test given to our students in kindergarten through seventh grade. This helps teachers set educational goals for our students, so that we can better understand their areas of growth, proficiency, and deficiency.
The fall MAP test provides a score for students to meet or exceed the next time they test. Each time a student takes the test, the questions are gauged towards their individual level of learning. If a question is answered incorrectly, the test will adjust to a question that is not as difficult. If a student answers the question correctly, the test gives increasingly more difficult questions. This process continues until the student is done and we have our data.
As an administrator, I understand the importance behind this information. But as a spiritual leader of my school, as well as an administrator, I understand the necessity to teach the whole child and to not “teach to the test,” which is a common mantra being heard in education today.
The idea of not teaching to a test is an increasingly more difficult task to adhere to as a school overall. So much in life is based upon how we score on “the test”; whatever that test may be. We start at an early age with kindergarten testing, as we progress it is a test score to get a license to drive, then the ACT, the SAT and eventually licensing exams to obtain certification for employment. These are areas we must be proficient in to obtain the ability to move forward in a particular aspect of life. It is very necessary to prove we are capable in our profession, and with a teenage driver at home, I know it is very important to prove we can pass a driving test,
However, there is much more in life to learn besides what is on a test. Measures of one’s knowledge on an assessment delineate only that one moment in time. There is so much more to teach students about being a great human being, versus only teaching to the questions on a paper or computer so we can obtain a passing score.
As educators it is our job to find ways to bring back the excitement and wonder of education. From my experience, this is done through hands-on, project-based learning, through educational field trips, and mostly, it is done in a classroom experience created by teachers who are truly passionate about what they do.
At Norwalk Catholic School we have the privilege and ability to teach religion as a parochial school. We celebrate Mass every week, we pray every day and we discuss the spiritual importance and value of human life. It is with pride that we teach our students about Jesus and the hope we have in Him for our salvation.
As a community we want our students to know that this world and all of the baggage that comes with it, is temporary. Heaven is our true home. This knowledge provides us with the ability to give hope, love and the anticipated grace of living with God to our students.
In life, no matter where you attend school, please remember that a test result is only a number. A poor grade on a paper is only a letter. These things do not define who we are.
In the larger scheme of life we pick up, dust ourselves off and keep trying to do what Jesus taught us to do: to love, forgive, and never give up. No matter what “test” life serves you, I pray we will all pass with flying colors and understand that we have the ability to rise above it.
Local columnist Melissa Englert is the Norwalk Catholic School elementary principal.