I know. You thought I was done with this whole blog thing. My seventh grade attention span finally got the best of me.
It’s just testing. It’s just so… what’s the word? Enervating.
I have a sort of love/hate thing with testing. Mostly hate these days, but back in the day, when I was actually a k-12 student, I used to love testing. I loved any chance to compete. SRA’s (remember those color levels?), SAT’s, state testing, spelling bees (we were old school at St. Mel’s); you name it, I wanted to be #1 when the results came out.
Also, if you were done early, you could read whatever you wanted. I was always done early.
Now as a teacher I have to say, rather guiltily, that testing season is one of my fave times of year. We get huge chunks of time to get something done, while the kids work for once. Over the course of four days of testing, I had about 10 hours of time to…work, yeah, that’s it. That’s more than two week’s worth of my regular prep time. Of course, we were instructed to walk around every now and then, but it’s not exactly an epic journey, even in my nice large classroom, so that still left 9 1/2 hours. I think I’m pretty caught up now. I also get to sleep in. I do most all of my lesson prep before school. On testing days, there’s not a whole lot to prep for.
On the other hand…I can’t really sit around that long without, well… I just can’t sit around that long. Plus, I don’t know about your site, but at ours they allocate way too much extra time. The tests are technically supposed to be untimed, so our admins set aside an epic length of time so as to ensure that that one OCD kid who has to make every bubble perfect has enough time to do so. While the rest of them fidget and squirm and make mouth noises for 45 minutes, and I sound like I’m leaking air as I shush them down every 45 seconds.
Then there’s the interruption to whatever you’re doing. This year, like most (I kind of try to time it that way), we’re in the middle of research. So it’s not too much of an interruption. Actually the testing schedule shortens the length of the regular class periods, so I don’t have to babysit (“There’s nothing on my topic!”) for as long in the library. The problem is, they fall into the illusion that they have no English homework, since I’m not checking/collecting something every day, and they lag lag lag. Oh well, as I tell them, “Each paper not finished in time is one fewer I have to grade.” (See also: “Do the Math.”)
Another mark on the hate side is a fairly recent development. It’s been fostered by the elementary schools, many of which have been under pressure to raise their test scores (especially for the EL and “socioeconomically disadvantaged” groups). The kids expect rewards. They expect to be able to chew gum (because it supposedly helps them concentrate–uh huh), they expect snacks, they expect some some of reward assembly or grade incentive or no homework during testing or… They expect to be rewarded for showing up and not bubbling patterns.
Not to mention that we’re basically testing memorization in an age where facts can be looked up in seconds. Which makes the whole rigmarole pointless.
I’d rather be teaching.
In the course of this year, my seventh graders have spent about 15 hours on state and district mandated testing. At 54 minutes per period T-F and 43 on Mondays, that’s the equivalent of more than three weeks in my class.
No matter how you slice it, that’s about three weeks too many.