State Testing Madness

From roughly yesterday until the end of the school year, schools all across the Great State of Confusion will be administering State Tests. These tests are purportedly designed to reveal mastery of basic and grade appropriate skills and knowledge.

I could use that opening paragraph as a launching point into a rant about the idiocy of using multiple choice tests made by anonymous people who might not even be educators as the final arbiter of student achievement, but I’m only an educational professional who works with these children every day so what do I know? I might even have used this opportunity to question our Fearless Leaders’ understanding of the purpose of education in the first place if they sincerely think these state tests demonstrate anything other than students’ ability to take tests, but I suppose that is too touchy a subject for most folks and I’d better leave it alone.

No, today I’m going to talk about the sheer madness that state tests induce in our educators. There will be reports coming out around the country about students who can’t handle the stress of taking these tests and have nervous breakdowns, but I’m positive that no one will report on the real victims in this scenario; the teacher.

Back in the days of yore (“yore” being the time before President Bush), tests used to be indicators of how well students were learning the material and it was largely assumed that teachers were caring professionals doing their level best to help students learn. Today we know better; that tests actually tell us how well the teachers are teaching and that if they aren’t up to snuff they need to be fired and their schools need to be deprived of money.

Needless to say, this small and relatively innocent change in the perceived value of state tests has had some interesting effects on the faculties of the this great nation. Just this week one of our more “senior” Fearless Leaders was, well, I suppose you could say “tackled” (in the sense that she was hit hard enough to slide several feet on her backside) by a student. This student was NOT charged with assault because if arrested the student would have been unable to take the State Tests and that fact would have counted against the school (and therefore the principal) in the final report. Yesterday a teacher confessed that her hair was starting to fall out again because for the second straight semester she has to administer State Tests and she’s worried that the students who have missed 1/3 of her class (it is a first period class and BoJangles has long lines) might not do well and drag down her reported scores (which we display to the faculty every year in a huge slide show).

Yes, the real victims of State Testing Anxiety (now a recognized disorder in every state with this practice) are the teachers and they need our help. If you see one of these poor souls (symptoms include disorientation, mumbling testing instructions repeatedly, outbursts of “No. 2 ONLY!”, and unrestrained weeping) please help them find a quiet spot at a bar someplace and help them get some medication. The most effective medications for STA are liquid suspensions served chilled 8 oz at a time, repeat as necessary until symptoms subside. Remind them that it is unlikely that they will be fired because no one in their right mind wants their job!

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