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The pressure of high-stakes testing and other standardized assessmentmeasures dominates schools around the United States and my school is noexception This pressure pervades the atmosphere where I teach which isespecially apparent when the special education teachers gather fordepartment meetings At our department meeting this week the topic ofprogress monitoring of our students came up Immediately the atmospherein the room changed and a tension descended over the teachersComplaints were made about the ability of the tests to provideinformation to inform instruction Many teachers mentioned that theywere simply completing the assessments because they would sufferconsequences otherwise This interaction reminded me of informationcontained in our current class materials Demands placed by standardizedtesting serve as a source of anxiety and frustration for both teachersand studentsThe video Teaching Content is Teaching Reading included the quoteKnowledge of the World is the most important factor in understandingreading In the five years of my educational career the teaching ofreading strategies to the exclusion of methods has been inflicted onthe subject of reading at my school We provide students with frequentinstruction in reading strategies whether they need that instruction ornot Now I am not saying that reading strategies do not have valueespecially for struggling readers at the middle school level Howeveraccording to this video all of those reading strategies will havelittle benefit if we do not work to build our students backgroundknowledge Doing so is not valued in the same way as teaching readingstrategies Just as the video pointed out that science and socialstudies content is minimized at the elementary level similar actionoccurs at the junior high where I work We remove students from socialscience classes in order to provide more reading instruction but thoseclasses could provide valuable background knowledgeWith a student population of 54 low income students many of thestudents at my school are at a disadvantage when it comes to having theexposure to the background knowledge needed to understand informationthey read I struggle with how to build up their knowledge
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