This week marks the first week of state testing. Ugh. I hate it. It represents everything that is wrong with education today. High stakes, teaching to a test, meaningless results, narrowing of the curriculum, etc..... But test I must, so every year for six days I torture eight-year-olds. This is why I got into teaching.
Day 1 - Part 1 of the English Language Arts Test: As I circulate the room, making sure students are on task, I hear a whisper from one of my kiddos, "Eenie meenie miney mo," as his pencil point goes back and forth between two answers. Hey, at least he had narrowed it down to two! I couldn't bear to look and see if one of the two was the right answer. Sigh.
Day 2 - Part 1 of the Math Test: Dead silence as we begin the test. One of my students announces, "I am sick! I am feeling queasy, which means I just might PUKE!" Fabulous. As I shush him while the whole class looks on, he tells me he is fine - he can go on. I tell him if he feels bad to let me know. Then the heavy breathing starts. Like an obscene phone caller, this kid starts breathing so heavy all of the kids around him are totally distracted and staring at him. Are you kidding me??????? So I move him to another table with less kids and ask him to curb his breathing. He then realizes he needs the bathroom immediately. Upon his return, he announces. "Nope! Nothing came out!" Great. Thanks for sharing. After a few more minutes, the child cannot go on anymore. He tells me the only reason he came to school was to take the stupid test! So I send him to the office with my student teacher. On the way up to the office, he explains how he feels in more detail, "I feel like I am gonna burp, and then I have to poop!" He wasn't at school today.
Day 3: Part 2 of the English Language Arts Test. I just about died when I saw today's part of the test. An obscene amount of stories* with comprehension questions. Several of these stories were very long, all with a small font. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????? Don't you think we can figure out if they can do this crap with maybe just two stories? Why so many????? Heavy sigh. I have to say, the little chickens did great the first two days of testing. I mean, I have no clue how they did, but they worked their butts off. Today was different. The amount of stories broke their collective can-do spirit. I watched as many of them counted how many pages they had to do, with looks of anguish on their faces. I had a few fast finishers.... not because they were finished, but because they were DONE. And about one third of the class managed to skip the exact same story and corresponding questions. Of course the proctor and I made sure they went back and completed every little morsel of torture. Hey! One question can mean the difference between Far Below Basic and Below Basic dammit!
And so week one is done. The chickadees will have a few days of rest, then it's back to it next week. Can't wait.
* You may be wondering, how many stories were there? I wrote the exact number in my first draft. Then I got paranoid thinking I might get in trouble for divulging the contents of the test and the testing Nazis might come and rip my fingernails out.