Thinking of the upcoming state testing; what do I take for sustenance since the school’s lunch is hardly palatable? I decide on a sandwich and Pringles
I drive away with apprehension; I am the official administrator of the test which entails all kinds of responsibilities. Why can’t I be a reliever, for once?
Arrive at school; only a few cars in the parking lot but I have some heavy paperwork pending as a special ed teacher.
Pick up my ‘cart’ with answer sheets, booklets, pencils, math charts, and a bunch of signs I must hang inside and outside the classroom. “Electronic Devices Prohibited” is the main one.
8:35 A. M.
Students start to trickle in; they look for their names on the desks
Once I collected all the cell phones and similar devices, I start the lengthy reading of the rules. They know them already so they look appropriately bored.
They start the test with number 2 pencils, a tested (pun?) eraser, a math chart and a graph calculator. When I was in high school, no calculators; everything was done in our heads or on a piece of paper. Ever done the square root of 765 by hand?
First student to ask for the restroom; my reliever takes him (they must be escorted one by one. Can’t risk a hidden cell phone being used inside the toilet; has happened)
Lunch arrives: a burrito, cold, some chips, a cookie, and an apple. Milk of all types is included. Had to pick up all the tests just in case. They can’t talk, not even about the weather. They behave, I’m lucky to have a good bunch of kids.
The last student has turned in his or her test. They can talk, but no electronics, no movie, no books, magazines, or playing cards. Boring.. Try to keep them mentally occupied with my biography. For some reason, they can’t place my accent.
I finally get the word to turn in all my tests. As long as they are in my possession, I am liable for them and could lose my certificate if anything happens. Why can’t I be a reliever with no such concerns?
Why are we wasting so much time that could be used for instruction? And.. have you tried to keep a bunch of teens busy for three hours without resources? Mischief will occur; it’s in their nature. They built some paper airplanes and the owner (teacher) of the classroom saw it through the window; she got mad. Heck! It didn’t hurt anybody and it was actually constructive. Some planes performed beautifully. Kids will be kids, right?
4:00 P. M.
Finally, the word came; everybody out! What a relief! Yes, but tomorrow is another testing day, four in a row. I am exhausted from the tension of watching students for 7 hours straight. I’d much prefer to be in class.
Notes: State testing is a logical consequence of accountability by districts, but it takes a lot of time away from instruction, from preparing to actual testing. Isn’t there an easier way to check whether the instruction was effective?