Everything is a test.
No, seriously. There are no exceptions. If you’re not testing yourself, you’re being tested by your peers, and if you’re not being tested by your peers, then you’re being tested by your kid, and if you’re not being tested by your kid, then you’re being tested by THE UNIVERSE. But here, today, specifically, I’m talking about academic testing, and to be ultra-specific, I’m talking about academic testing in public schools.
America has lost its mind over testing. The education system is so twisted up in knots over the issue, it’s like a drunken octopus having a bar brawl with another octopus, except that the other octopus is just the first octopus’s own back arms. There’s no way to tell if he’s winning or losing, it’s just flailing and drowning and sucker-arms and ink. Is that squids? That’s squids. Okay, it’s like a squid…
With one hand, they (politicians and boards of education) tell us (actual educators) that it’s not supposed to be all about the test. That the test is secondary, that there are other, better ways to assess what students have actually learned. (What are those ways? Hem, haw, well, that’s, you know, we don’t know. Performance assessment? You can grade those fairly, right? RIGHT?) With the other, they shut down schools for weeks at a time to do what? Oh yeah, assess student learning in the only way that really makes sense, the only way you can really measure it. TEST.
But we’re not supposed to teach to the test. No, no. Teaching to the test is teaching in a vacuum. Bad, bad. Connect what you’re teaching to the real world. But is that on the test? NOPE. Because you can’t test that. Not efficiently. So we go around in circles not unlike a tremendous deuce circling the drain. Teach this, not this. Here’s the test, but ignore it. Whatever. I don’t have the answers to the problems of this testing issue, and I won’t pretend to. What I will do is share with you some testing-related absurdities.
It’s no wonder students freak the fargo out when it’s time to test. It’s not uncommon for schools to have counselors on standby in case some kid has a total nervous breakdown. Like just shutting down and refusing to pick up a pencil. Or throwing a desk. Or staging a potato salad riot in the cafeteria. That didn’t happen? Okay, but the first thing definitely happens.
Other things happen, too. Here are a few things which have happened in my school over the past week of End of Course Testing. All of these things require a full written account by the testing administrator to justify after-the-fact corrections to an answer sheet and, in some cases, a rescheduled testing session for the student in question.
1. A student nearly came to blows with a teacher trying to confiscate his phone in accordance with testing rules. The student would later claim he “didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to have it” despite signs on every door in the building, a verbal admonition at the beginning of every testing session, a warning on the morning announcements, and general goldfingered common sense.
2. Numerous students (like, too many to count) misspelled the name of the school. And, I’m sorry, our school does not have a funky name.
3. A student misspelled his own name. I am not making this up. (By the way, is it bad that as an English teacher I had to look up how to spell “misspell”? I think that’s bad. It’s also ironic.)
4. A student fell asleep and drooled all over his answer sheet. (This, apparently, happens all the time.)
5. A teacher fell asleep and was therefore unable to call time at the end of the session, thus negating an entire classroom’s testing session. (Okay, that wasn’t my school, but holy sharknado.)
*Heavy exhale* It’s not my goal to be a dumper. I really try to find positives and find productive ways forward, but this whole squid-octopus bar-brawl clusterfargo over testing is so asgard-end-up that it’s impossible for a guy like me to see any kind of light at the end of any sort of tunnel. We are deep underground, running out of air, and at times it feels like it’s time to call off the search. Don’t even get me started on a Common Core debate.
Aaand this is the part where I realize I’ve lost what little audience I have. Too many education-related posts on my non-education-themed blarg and I’ve burned the souffle. Or the souffle went rogue and attacked the chef with a blowtorch. Don’t fargo with souffles.
FINAL THOUGHT: Testing is like a butthole. It stinks.
No, that’s it. You were expecting something more eloquent?
Don’t worry, next post won’t be about work stuff. It’ll be about… I dunno. Space unicorns.