Struggling to find time to instruct while meeting the mandates of standardized assessment is something that teachers face all over the country. Somehow it seems that teachers are required to cover more material with less time to do so. In face of this source of frustration and loss of effective instructional time, I have found it is important (as we were told endlessly when I went to college) to modify and adjust. This is essentially what we do when there are fire drills or weather-related early dismissals or closings. However, the one advantage is that the teacher has time to plan when it comes to assessments. They are generally scheduled well in advance. Controlled by state guidelines, it is essential that testing requirements are met, and a great deal of planning goes into the process. If you have the dates at the beginning of the school year, I would schedule my units so that disruption to the classroom is at a minimum. First, I would not start any unit I have never presented before when testing is looming in the immediate future. Making sure a new unit has a fair chance to be successful requires the ability not only to make adjustments as you go, but also to finish with plenty of time to spare. This prevents any added pressure on you or your students. To start anything before testing and then attempt to finish it after testing is unfair to the kids and you. If the testing were scheduled for the spring, I would make sure to cover the units that are most demanding in the fall. I might read a novel early on. When assessments come around, work on short units, and try to ...
The following posting discusses instruction and assessment.