Time for Assessment - on the student's time

The 6th graders studied the images and considered the questions and began furiously writing on their tests.  I could hear the rhythms of pencils being repeatedly lifted and pressed to the desk, resulting in a soft drumming disseminating throughout my classroom.  It was comforting.  The class was turning the page, eagerly moving ahead to analyzing and graphing data.  However, one boy, John, remained processing question one.  He was just as intent as the others but not making the same progress.

After about 40 minutes, the second to last student finished the test and pulled out her Kindle.  Upon completion students were to leave the test on their desk and quietly take out a book to read or peruse the National Geographic magazines in my room while waiting for the rest of the class to finish.  My goal is for each student to have a fair amount of time and a fair environment to finish the test.   A student should not feel rushed just because others are done with the exam.  I want each assessment to be a fair opportunity for a student to show me what he can do and what he knows, not how fast he can demonstrate these achievements. 

So, there we sat. And sat.  And sat.  John continued to plod along.  It was excruciating.  The students kept looking at the clock and then at me.  They were anxious to get on with the experiment I had planned.  As was I.  But, we waited.  And waited. And waited.  At one point, John stood up with a smile on his face, extending his test to me.  I was thrilled that he was only a about ten minutes behind the others.   Abruptly he exclaimed, “Oh wait” and plopped down to erase his entire graph!  I wanted to cry out, “No, just turn it in!” 

Finally, data graphed and all blanks filled, his test was finished.  At first I questioned my decision to make the entire class wait.  However, especially later when holding his assessed test in my hand, I realized how valuable the evidence was.  Here was a student who I’ve suspected needs some learning support.  I have other observations and signs of his need, but this was real proof.

Now, how do we get the parents to agree?