Movers and Shakers and Tests - Oh My!

So, we are back in school after three days of Hurricane Sandy cancellations. I like knowing that God always has a purpose behind what He allows to happen in our lives. These days off were good for Mr. McFarland who has been under the weather with some sort of respiratory virus. Yesterday's extra day off helped us take care of some minor storm related water problems in some of our elementary classrooms where the wind drove rain under doors and, somehow, over windows, to create dampness. It was much easier to deal with these issues without the students in the classrooms, and the school is as good as new again today.

Today I set foot into a classroom again as a math teacher, something I have not done for some time. I will be reviewing the three basic trigonometric ratios and teaching students how to solve real world problems using these ratios - How high is the tree, the building, the airplane? How far away is the airport? How long is the shadow? All that fun stuff. Mr. Neil Braganza, our math teacher extraordinaire, is going under the knife today (if they still use knives for surgery) to fix his ACL that he damaged on our senior retreat last month. Pray for his speedy recovery. The only part of this teaching assignment that makes me nervous is not knowing how to use the new document camera on his desk. If I can't get that to work, it will be back to board markers and the white board for me. So low-tech!

I administered the PLAN and PSAT tests to our sophomores and juniors last month. The students were focused and did their best, I think. They were concerned about the test items and the time constraints. At GGCA, we do not teach to the test. We teach our students and assess them in a variety of ways, most of which are not like standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT and their "pre" counterparts the PLAN and PSAT. One of the reasons we give the PLAN and PSAT is to expose our students to these kinds of tests and to make them aware that they will need to do some special preparation before they take either the ACT or SAT.

Part of doing well on one of these exams is practicing to work under the pressure of a time constraint and learning how each test poses its questions. Some critics of these tests say that these tests measure how well a student takes the test, not how much a student knows. Still, GGCA is thinking about what we can do to better prepare our students for these tests without sacrificing instructional time for the sake of a test that does not count for anything here at GGCA. We would rather be teaching that math a student needs to know to be successful in college rather than how to pysch out how to answer math questions on the SAT. Still, I see the value of knowing how to answer the questions on the SAT so that a student can get into college. It is a delicate balance we must strike.This semester we are offering an SAT math prep elective for students who want to take it. Some of the new textbooks we have and are looking at have SAT and ACT type questions embedded in them, so we are making use of those when available.

GGCA provides a college preparatory curriculum to all of its students, yet getting students into college is not our highest goal. Our highest goal for our students is that they are equipped to be discerning, intelligent believers who will succeed wherever God leads them and make an impact upon this world. We want to produce the Daniels, the Esthers, and the Josephs that are the cream of the crop in their generation, rising to the top as they follow the call of Christ. God can use Spirit-filled sons and daughters in every field of endeavor, and we pray that GGCA will have more than its fair share of graduates who are movers and shakers wherever God puts them. To God be the glory!

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