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TEACHERS FIND CREATIVE WAYS BEYOND THE NORMAL TESTING

TEACHERS FIND CREATIVE WAYS BEYOND THE NORMAL TESTING

Even as the annual state testing season bore down on her this spring, fourth-grade teacher Jin Yi barely bothered with test prep materials. The Hobart Boulevard Elementary School teacher used to spend weeks with practice tests but found they bored her students.

Instead, she engages them with hands-on lessons, such as measuring their arms and comparing that data to solve above-grade-level subtraction problems.

"I used to spend time on test prep because I felt pressured to do it," said Yi, who attended Hobart in Koreatown herself and returned a decade ago to teach. "But I think it's kind of a waste of time. The students get bored and don't take it seriously and it defeats the purpose."

Yi's approach seems to work: She is rated "highly effective" in a value-added analysis by The Times based on her students' standardized test scores in English and math. She also ranks among the Los Angeles Unified School District's top 100 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers in English in that analysis.

Who says students need "drill and kill" exercises to raise their test scores?

The pressure to improve student test performance in California and across the country often meets with disdain from teachers who say they are compelled to throw out creativity and "teach to the test." The phrase is usually code for teachers who are forced to abandon creativity and focus exclusively on areas tested — reading, writing and math. That, critics say, shortchanges students of such other important subjects as art, history and even science in some grades. (more)

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Article by TERESA WATANABE, Los Angeles Times | Read full article here


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