Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Test's the Thing?


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The Test's the Thing? 

I wake up this morning knowing I need to say something - to share something - to write something.

So many ideas and thoughts swirl in my mind. Most of them, I'll be honest, revolve around the six days I and my students are about to spend wielding number 2 pencils while dancing with tiny bubbles.

I won't be holding the pencils myself, of course. I'll just be providing those TWO pencils. Thankfully, after almost 4 hours of training and being told at least 25 times, I think I understand now how to count to 2 to make sure they have the right number of sharp implements to wield.

I want to vent about the waste of time - mine and theirs. I wanted to rage against the insanity that expects students who started the year as almost nonreaders to be able to answer multiple choice questions on text that is STILL, despite all their growth, well above their current level.

I want to share my frustration about those students who walked in the door the first day of school already capable of acing this test. Those little faces who will gaze at me today and ask, "why isn't anything WE did on these tests?" For all the discussion of accountability, there is no acknowledgement that children are people - people who come to us at varying starting points.

I want to share with you all my anger at the patronizing rules and regulations that forced me to listen to multiple sources tell me to put up signs and hand out TWO (please, 2) pencils, watch multiple videos, have slide shows read TO me, all to prove that I can be trusted to not cheat. My anger at the fact that this test is NOT really about what they know. If it truly were, then there wouldn't be a rule about not telling a child if they SKIPPED an entire section. Oh no, instead it makes much more sense to have that 8 or 9 year old just get all those questions marked wrong. Clearly, if they accidentally skipped those pages than they didn't really deserve to get credit for that material, right?

Instead, I wake up this morning and check my twitter feed. One of my favorite YouTube creators tweets about a video she posted.

A video that her "statistics" prove is a failure because less than 1/4 of her subscribers have viewed it. A video that reinforces in my mind the sheer beauty of the universe. Can math be majestic- poetic - existential? Does everything need to have a "right" answer?

Can anything truly important be reduced to a bubble on a multiple choice test?







I'm participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by the amazing educators at Two Writing Teachers. Now that March is over, we write and share on Tuesdays. Stop by to see what others are posting!

Also - if you stop by and comment, and you are also slicing - PLEASE feel free to include your URL in the comments. With over 200 people slicing, it is often hard to go find your specific link on the Two Writing Teachers page, and I'd love to come read YOUR slice too!

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