Monday, March 26, 2007


My little group of darlings made it through the hell that is the CMT's. It was hard. It was hard for them to sit still for 60 minutes at a time, it was hard for me not to cringe when I noticed they were doing a problem incorrectly, it was hard for them to not turn pencils into drum sticks, or nails to be driven into their erasers, or walrus tusks, or... but the hardest part, the part that goes against everything that makes me a teacher, is when they raise their hands and say, "Mrs. S. I don't get this question." And my response has to be, simply, "Reread the question." Then, when they ask me if I'd read it for them I have to tell them I can't. I can't tell you how much it broke my heart to see their little shoulders slump and their faces fall when they realized that their teacher couldn't help them at all. Couldn't even read a question for them. Of course, my sadness quickly turned to frustration when some of them finished in only 20 minutes. And my frustration turned to pure annoyance when I discovered that those same students wrote one sentence responses to reading comprehension questions. One sentence!
All that aside, one of the moments that made me happiest in the midst of the painful testing was when a parent told me that their child didn't feel very anxious. She went on to say that her daughter really listened when I explained that I didn't do well on these kind of tests and it made her feel a lot better. (Nothing like putting myself down to make my students more comfortable!)
Now that the testing is over, I'm encountering another problem that I had forgotten about. So much of our time the last month and a half has been taken up with test preparation or test taking that my students seem to have forgotten what it is like to have a "normal" day in the classroom. I feel like I'm back in September: revisiting and naming all of our rules. Reminding them how things work. No, you can't get up in the middle of my minilesson to sharpen your pencil. No, you can't have a ten minute conversation about what game you'll play at recess in the middle of reading. Yes, you have to do homework again and actually hand it in. It feels like, even though it's almost April and I am thinking about turning them over to the fourth grade teachers, we are back to the beginning of third grade. Let's just hope the tests didn't also cause them to forget all the things they've learned thus far.


Kelli said...

Hopefully by now you've got them all back to "normal" and they're following class rules again.

Hearing your stories about school makes me miss a lot of things about growing up - but standarized testing is NOT one of them.

Anonymous said...

I was "that" student who made up answers to the ITBS and Mastery Tests-just so could quickly rid myself of the tedium-to have a snack, draw or go outside. My teacher said that it didn't count on my report card, so...! The results came back that I needed remedial classes...oops!
Mom S

Anonymous said...

Your entry caught my attention, but not for the reasons stated above. I have a huge issue with standardized testing, and it was your story that validated everything I find wrong with the tests. To begin, when students are at such vulnerable ages, their teachers should not be cast as people they cannot come to for support. Children are in school for years, and they should have a developed sense of trust that the teachers are their to help them, guide them, and support them in their education.
Secondly, you stated that now that testing is over it feels like the beginning of the year again-why should you have to format your teaching around a test? Why should your students have to "bank and purge" information on a test that shows nothing more than how well a student can take a test? Why should valuable class time be wasted when students can otherwise learn things that matter more than filling in little bubbles.
Lastly, I want to ask you if you think critically of the posts you submit. You see the pain on your students faces, you hurt with them, you were frustrated with them also- so why aren't you doing anything about it? Why stand aside and allow such testing to take place? My response to your post is that becoming an active teacher is more than just abiding by rules and showing up for class. Your job extends outside of the classroom; research these tests and fight for ways that better suit your students learning capabilities. Standardized testig may have to take place for now, but you should be motivated to DO SOMETHING to make it better. Don;t let my words influence you though, your students spoke a lot louder than I did.