Teach Then Test

October 17, 2013

Teaching and Testing
(Excerpt from The Other Side of Teaching)

In any academic institution, we have to teach before we test, right? At university, we have a mid-term and a final per subject, per semester. In most foreign countries, tests are given twice per year and there is the national test for all students. Why, then, do New York City public schools have weekly/bi-weekly, quarterly, and semi-annual tests among many others in every subject in high school?

Let us look at the number of days spent teaching in an academic year and compare it to the number of days spent teaching:

State mandated number of days schools are opened in NYC in an academic year: 180

I. Test days per academic year:
• 3 tests per marking period x 6 marking periods = 18 tests per subject
• 2 mid-terms and 2 final exams = 4 tests per subject
• Regents in January = 5 days
• Regents in June = 10 days
• PSAT and review (not all students) = 2 days
• AP test (not all students) = 2 days
• NYSELLAT (immigrants) = 5 days

Total = 46 test days per year

II. Non-teaching days / Mandatory teacher time off:
• Staff Development days per year = 5
• Parent Teacher Conferences (two Fridays) = 2
Total = 7

III. Miscellaneous:
• Teacher out sick = 5
• Students out sick/cut class/see guidance counselor/minimum = 5
• Students absent on snow days = 2
Total = 12

Teaching and Learning Days:
School days per year are: 180
Minus #1 Above 46
Minus #2 Above 7
Minus #3 Above 12
Total = 65

Total number of actual teaching/learning days are: 115

According to these numbers, of the 180 days on the academic calendar, actual teaching days are approximately 115. Take another few days off for review, book collection, disruptive students, fire drills, etc., and we are down to 110 days. The hard cold fact here is that we teach approximately 60 percent of the time and test or waste 40 percent of the time. We have to do better than this.


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