weekly spelling tests on Friday for 1st Grade - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Should I be concerned about weekly spelling tests on Friday for First Grade? I sort of did a preliminary search on the Internet and it appears this is "par for the course" in 1st grade nowadays. The words are very easy, but I'm just surprised that they start testing like this. There were 10 words on the list. The most difficult word was "have".

I guess I'm pretty clueless about today's standards. I know that I didn't have spelling tests in 1st grade, but that was 30 years ago. We started in 3rd grade with that kind of stuff. I consider myself to be a good speller without having had weekly spelling tests in 1st grade.

I'm curious what others think about this. Is this focus on doing spelling tests at a younger age better?
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#2 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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DD has a weekly word list of 20 words, and the focus is on spelling, spelling patterns and sounds (e.g. short cd long vowels). So the test include both spelling and categorization. They do not do it every though (so far) but I do feel that it is a lot of material to absorb. But DD seems ready for it academically so I hesitate to raise any issues at this point though I am getting a list of questions together for our parent-teacher conference in 2 weeks.

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#3 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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My ds is a very young 1st grader. he comes home with 10 words (but I asked for them to come home on the friday so we get 2 extra days to practice them). he is only just begining to get the idea of learning phonetics which is especially hard for him as he requires speach therapy. His teacher really does work with me on ds's limitations, even to the point she is willing to reduce the number to 5 weekly and has said though she marks the tests she doesn't grade or record the results. It's more to give her an idea of improvements made.

Ds and I practice with flash cards for maybe 3 to 5 minutes a few times a day as well as writting the words.

I do think 20 words a week for a first grader is too much!
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#4 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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I remember having spelling tests in first grade and I'm 27, so 21ish years ago. My kid is only in Kindergarten, but I wouldn't be against spelling tests next year (or the end of this year, really.)

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#5 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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I think ten words is a good number for first grade. I remember having spelling tests a long time ago and I haven't seen a school that doesn't do them even in first grade. My friends son is in Montessori and he did twice that number in first grade and had to get them all right or he had to spend time copying them several times over to memorize them.
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#6 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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Ds has 9 spelling words that are tested each week. When I was in grade school we started spelling tests in second grade.

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#7 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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my daughter's friend who is in Kindergarten Gifted and talented program is already doing spelling tests. One of the gifted Kinder classes started before Christmas, the other started after.

Kinder is the new first grade. First grade is the new second, and so on. Kids without any school experience or parents working with them seem to need PreK to be successful as far as I can see. PreK seems like Kinder was when I was a kid. Just my observations as someone in the schools....

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#8 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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My dd has 15 words - some follow a pattern, others are sight words - She was previously in the top reading group but because she struggled with these tests (I called a conference to discuss) we mutually agreed she should go to the middle group (which essentially just puts her about a month behind so I'm not sure what she really gained - but she does like this group better)

She still never get's 100 (and that's okay - she tends towards the perfectionist side at times which I don't think is always healthy)

My bigger problem is they have to take 2 sentences of dictation! and that get's graded and counted in as part of her 'percentage'

I think it's an awful lot to ask of kids who are just learning to read to be able to do this (with correct punctuation BTW) They are supposedly not penalized for not spelling 'non-spelling' words correctly. But that's still alot for my dd to synthesize and produce in a short amount of time - She does fine with one task at a time (ie where she takes a jumble of words, has to place them in correct order and use correct punctuation - which is actually two things isn't it?) But for her to hold all the words of the sentence the teacher has dictated in her head, spell the words correctly and use correct punctuation I think is just too much...

She's not bothered by her 'mediocre' (my assessment, not hers) performance and seems to roll with things just fine - I also find it interesting that she doesn't get any grades on her report cards - just M (mastery) PA (progressing adequately) and N (needs more time) - So why the need to calculate a percentage on so many things? - personally I'd rather see work returned to be corrected - then have it be graded

I also worry that 'mediocre' will be just fine by her even when she is capable of a good deal more...
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#9 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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My ds is in 1st grade and they have weekly spelling tests. 10 words each week, plus 1 "bonus word" (that is usually a trickier word, such as "please").

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#10 of 20 Old 10-19-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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My son is also in first grade and has had spelling tests since the last 9 weeks of kindergarten... There are usually 10 words and then they have to write a sentence using one of the words. When it was just the words, he would get 100 percent every time... but his teacher this year is a little more strict and grades on punctuation, handwriting and sentence structure as well so he's getting High B's, low A's since his handwriting is not so great... but he's also a gifted reader so most of the spelling words they are getting are pretty easy for him.

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#11 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 05:45 AM
 
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I wouldn't be concerned about the spelling tests as a whole, but might look at how they're graded/weighted. It comes down to how you learn to spell. You learn through repitition of seeing the word and writing the word.

I personally don't think the tests should be graded in 1st grade. I think they should be given back on Monday with misspelled words marked, correct spelling given and a request that parents help kids review these words so they can be learned correctly.

To me it's more a learning tool than a true testing tool (or should be).

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#12 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 09:32 AM
 
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I do think it's the norm. I remember having spelling tests in 1st grade and I'm in my 40's. I don't remember if they were "graded" or not.

Dd was having spelling tests the last part of Kindy (she's in a academically rigorous school), but it was to practice for 1st grade, so not graded.
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#13 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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Is it common? Yes.

Is it better? Personally, I don't think so. In our district, it's not just spelling tests. They get tested on everything constantly, even in 1st grade.
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#14 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I LOVE spelling and I'm naturally good at it. I've rarely had to study for a spelling test. If a word doesn't look right, it's very obvious to me.

I still have my report card from 1st Grade. I've confirmed that we didn't have spelling/spelling tests at my school. I think 1st grade is stressful enough without the need for spelling tests every Friday.

So far, I think DS appears to have a knack for picking up correct spelling, but I'm concerned about the stress of the test. It just feels wrong to me to put testing pressures on young kids.

I'm hoping the teachers do it in a low-key manner. However, it remains to be seen. The students haven't had a any spelling tests yet. This Friday is the first time. (I know, my protective mama instincts are showing through.)
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#15 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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Many states start standardize testing in 4th grade now. In fact, with Florida's FCAT program, the kids KNOW that if they do poorly there is a chance that they will fail the 4th grade...yup, its very clear to the kids how serious this test is, as well as the stress of school for the 3 months leading up to the test! One of the key reasons we have opted out of this system. But, given the fact that 4th grade testing is serious business and is paramount to their success in elementary school....one cannot possibly teach them how to take tests at 3rd grade. they must start in 1st. Its unfortunate, but a fact here in lowly Florida.

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#16 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nanette0269 View Post
Many states start standardize testing in 4th grade now.
Third graders are tested, even, here.

On the original question-- my DD1 is in first grade. She gets weekly spelling lists-- right now it's eight words, but they're going to work up to having 12. She also gets sight words to learn each week. So far these pose no problem to her, because she's already a competent reader-- unusually competent for her age. But there are plenty of more age-typical students in her class who are already struggling badly, in only the second month of school. I think it's a sad shame that kids' sense of confidence and joy in learning starts getting stepped on at so early an age. I'm a teacher-- a reading specialist-- and I see so many kids who got behind in the first few months of first grade, and now years have gone by and they've never caught up, and it can take months or even years to untangle the mess the schools created. The pressure goes on too soon.

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#17 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 09:56 PM
 
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My first grader doesn't have spelling tests yet. Thank goodness, since he is still very much an emergent reader and writer, and he'd for sure be labeled "behind" on a test of formalized spelling. That said, as long as the spelling list was short and appropriate to the child and it's function as a "test" was down-played, I'd be okay with it.

Part of my job is supervising student teachers, and I observed 2 spelling lessons yesterday (this early in the year, it's one of the few areas the master teachers feel able to hand over to the student teachers). So I was thinking about this a lot yesterday, LOL.

In one (third grade) class, it was very routinized. The whole class identified words with the spelling pattern, they went over a list of 12 words together, they took a practice test, and then they checked them and corrected them together. There was nothing terribly wrong about it, meaning nobody seemed to feel overly pressured or incompetent, but it also didn't feel like a great use of time. About half of the class already knew all the words, and the rest looked a little dazed during the spelling pattern lesson. And the teacher kept noting that they needed to pay attention so they would do well on the test (I'd rather she convey the idea that spelling is important for writing rather than primarily for test passage).

In the other class (also third grade), they had 10 of the same words as the first class (I think the spelling patterns are determined school or district wide), but in addition, they had each chosen 3-5 words that mattered to them based on what they were studying in class. The words ranged from "subtraction" to "mammal" to "platypus." I think the teacher had helped them choose the words by looking over the previous week's work, but I'm not sure. They worked in pairs to help each other learn the words and had a choice of activities to do with the tricky words. Kids who already knew all the spelling pattern words only worked on their self-chosen words. It was great! And the master teacher mentioned a Friday "spelling progress check," which of course means "spelling test," but she was clearly trying to emphasize progress instead of just jumping over a weekly hurdle. I left thinking gosh, I wish I'd been taught to spell that way!
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#18 of 20 Old 10-20-2010, 10:08 PM
 
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Spelling tests in first grade are normal here, but the words are pretty easy. I think the goal is to break the kids in gently to repetition and learning basic study skills.

 
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#19 of 20 Old 10-22-2010, 01:23 AM
 
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My first grader is home schooled, but he has a weekly spelling test. Very typical IMHO, for any kind of structured schooling.
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#20 of 20 Old 10-22-2010, 01:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LightToast View Post
Should I be concerned about weekly spelling tests on Friday for First Grade? I sort of did a preliminary search on the Internet and it appears this is "par for the course" in 1st grade nowadays. The words are very easy, but I'm just surprised that they start testing like this. There were 10 words on the list. The most difficult word was "have".

I guess I'm pretty clueless about today's standards. I know that I didn't have spelling tests in 1st grade, but that was 30 years ago. We started in 3rd grade with that kind of stuff. I consider myself to be a good speller without having had weekly spelling tests in 1st grade.

I'm curious what others think about this. Is this focus on doing spelling tests at a younger age better?
I am in your ballpark for age, and we had weekly spelling tests, much as you describe from the first week of 1st grade thru the last week of 6th grade-- every friday c:

As far as I know it is quite common, and some k4 and k5 are introducing short spelling tests as well... I do think there is such thing as pushing it too far... but 1st grade seems IME to have been the norm at least in some school districts since we were children.

HTH

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