In Which I Begin My Complaints About Testing

This one isn’t about the tests; it’s about how my school prepares for them.

Knowing how much emphasis everyone from the feds on down places on these things, you might conclude we use every possible pre-test second to study for them. Not so. At least not at my school. We start them Wednesday. Nevertheless, we lost an entire day of instruction Friday to school pictures, an awards ceremony and a basketball game. Yes. A basketball game during school hours. Three days prior to the BIG TESTS. Today, we lost the last part of the day to a LEAP test pep rally. You read that right, too. Only a non-teaching education professional could thing that’s a good idea. Tomorrow, instead of last minute review, we will have something called an “Academic Olympics.” I say “something” because – despite repeated requests for information – I have absolutely no idea what we are doing. For those counting at home, that’s most of the last three days prior to the tests wasted on non-academic silliness.

Part of me wants to say big deal. By this point the students have already determined for themselves who is going to pass the tests and who won’t. For the most part, that’s accurate. However, there are a few on the border who could go either way. And every question counts. I had a great three day intensive review planned. I’ve no doubt it could have helped at least a few students get the one or two more questions they needed in order to make it to the promised land. Alas, I lost it all to goofy do your best rah-rah cheerleading.

What will happen now? I don’t know. Not only have they missed valuable instruction, but all the disruptions and chaos has their little minds focused on everything except learning. When I take my own kids to the park, it takes us half an hour to walk the block over there. Why? Because every time they take a step, they see something they have to go inspect: A stick, some bugs, a flower, the neighbor’s cat, whatever. And after every distraction, I have to re-focus them on the trip. Middle schoolers are no different. They lose attention even in the best of circumstances. I’m not saying all this wasted time and distractions will make a huge difference, but I bet it makes a significant one. At the least, it’s a pain in the ass with no benefits.

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