Tuesday, March 31, 2015

El Examen Nacional de Español

The National Spanish Exam . . . It's that time of year again, folks.  My students are testing today and tomorrow, and we have taken over the media center for three days.  This does not make you popular with your fellow faculty, let me tell you.  But, as we say in Spanish with a shrug, "¿Qué remedio?"

Achievement tests, like the SAT and the NSE, are hard for students who are accustomed to getting good grades.  They like to see numbers in the high 90s on their papers, and when the NSE raw score shows they got a 68% I almost have to call an ambulance for them.  I try to explain, "It's an achievement test, not a mastery test.  You aren't supposed to know all of this material.  Sixty eight percent really isn't bad at all."  But the looks of skepticism they give me really say it all.

The hard thing for me is that my school gives the test to all the students who take Spanish.  They view it as a measure of teacher performance to some degree - and that is a lot of pressure.  Especially when one considers that most of the Spanish students in the nation do not take the test.  Seriously, when I attend the FLANC conference every fall, attendees get to put a big ribbon on their badge to show that they give the NSE.  I only ever see a small handful of folks wearing that ribbon.  And, at my old school only one teacher gave the test at all - and she paid out of pocket for her students to take the exam.  So, do you think she gave it to everyone?  Of course not!  She paid for only the best and brightest to take the test.  Now, multiply that trend across the nation, and you start to see just how competitive this test can be. 

But I'm not going to make myself crazy over it.  Some of my students will do well and others will not.  It is what it is. 

Do you give the NSE to your students?  If so, do you give it to all of them or just a select few?  I'd be curious to hear.

Hasta pronto, mis amigos.  ¡Que les vaya muy bien hoy!



Anonymous said...

I give the test to my kids! It is a good point to think about who actually takes the test. We are a private school and budget for all of our kids to take the test. I always have about 50% get an award, but it is hard because as the levels increase, the vocabulary seems more obscure and difficult. I enjoy giving it, and I am always excited for the award winners, but it can also discourage some kids. How do you get around that?

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