Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Out of Control.

I'm not sure when I went to school to become a child abuser, but I think that's what I did today. The testing of children is officially out of control.

Officially.
Out.
Of.
Control.

I think testing is a valuable way to get good information about what children have learned. I think that testing should be a part (a part!) of what earns a child a promotion to the next grade. I even think that testing is a good way to make sure that teachers are teaching what they are supposed to.

But I don't think that testing needs to include the following things when you consider that we are talking about 8-11 year old children in an elementary school:
1. No recess. They might talk about the test.
2. No specials. The P.E., music, and art teachers are assigned to guard duty. They cannot teach classes to any students, K-5, as they are very, very busy with an important duty. In teams of two, they are to....are you ready? Guard the bathrooms. This is to ensure that the children aren't able to talk about the test.
3. Silent lunch guarded by teachers and three glaring, arms-crossed, sargeant-like administrators. Assigned seating and no talking whatsosever. You know why? Because they might try to talk about the test.

Can I just tell you something? I promise you that the last thing on earth these children are going to want to talk about is the test. I don't even want to talk about the test, and it totally reflects on my teaching. (By the way, if I was to consider talking about the test - or heaven forbid, what the prompt was - I could lose my teaching license in three states and would be subject to a public stoning. So please don't ask me about the test.)

4. So when you add up no recess, no specials, and silent lunch, you get 100 children who have to sit in a chair from 9:00am until 3:30pm without talking, moving, making faces, or fidgeting. This requirement is a crime against nature.

When you have to post encouraging signs in the hallways to help the students "get through" the day, something is wrong. When you have to submit a list of eight possible meltdowns that could commence in your classroom during testing to the principal prior to the test just to warn her that those could conceivably be zeroes on the school scores, something's not right. When you have to talk a kid off the ledge at 3:15 because he's not even halfway finished and he has to stay until 5:00pm to finish, something is tragically wrong.

5. Rules that make me so paranoid about losing my license that my eyes dart quickly to the hallway before I bend down to give a struggling student a quick hug and a pat of encouragement, lest the powers that be accuse me of cheating. Rules that require me to monitor that my students are bubbling correctly, yet do not allow me to look at their papers.

I think my kids did as well as can be expected and I'm proud of them for sticking it out, but I just maintain that the lengths to which we are reaching to ascertain whether these kids have learned what they are supposed to learn are getting a little out of hand.

And? In closing? I also think it's really inappropriate when the principal who never graces my classroom - ever - except for the time I invited her just so I could be observed, stalks angrily around the room 4-5 times during the day while glaring at the students and authoritatively clenching a coffee cup. Because that might "scare" them into doing their best so her scores look good.

That's all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I don't think any rational person who knows anything about classrooms or teaching has anything good to say about TAKS or NCLB.