This week SC marks the annual state-wide testing known as PACT. PACT stands for Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, and yes our state testing program is truly a challenge, much more rigorous compared to other state testing programs. While SC traditionally falls low in state ranking for performance, we equally rank high for our rigorous standards and this test being a pretty tough assessment program. Most SC teachers I know lament many issues with the test, including the fact that the length of time to get results back is way too long–and the test does not really give any diagnostic information to assist teachers in improving student performance.
The answer to that in many districts across SC is to implement the MAP Test, which supposedly correlates highly to PACT.
Here is the funny part–the test, claimed to be flawed even by the Jim Rex, our state superintendent, is funded again for another year. But look at one of the headlines in the Sunday paper today (really this is the opening line):
The House approved a final version of the state’s $7 billion budget Thursday that falls short of meeting a basic state function: getting children to schoolhouses.
Essentially it will pay for testing, but not for gas to get our kids to school on our SC Buses. Oh well, unless we speak to our legislators, this will continue to be the case. At least there is evidence in Anderson of a legislator asking the hard question–why do we continue to use PACT. Best, State Superintendent Jim Rex answers this letter, pointing that his hands were tied regarding this year’s state assessment, and that until the governing body comes up with another acceptable state assessment, this one will continue to be used. Read that letter and Rex’s response here.
SC is not the only state arguing the merit of high stakes testing. So as we educators (and our student and parents) face arguably a 2 week period of stressful testing, turning our schedules and routines upside-down, and making some endure self inflicted suffering, let me leave you with this video titled “Not on the Test.” NOTE–this is intended for educators, not students.
Last, remind educators to be positive with students no matter how you feel about the assessment program. Having high expectations and a positive attitude can go a long way in relieving student pressure, test anxiety, and tension, and that can mean the difference b/w advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic, which defines our students performance according to PACT.