I have to interrupt a standardized test in order to give a standardized test.
I am in the second week of giving a standardized test that isn’t a test, because nobody gives a wank about this test. The only reason we’re giving this test is because the district paid millions for it. We bought it, so we give it. But everyone — kids, teachers, administrators — knows it doesn’t count, because, right after we bought it, the state mandated another test. One that counts.
The test that doesn’t count is thirty pages long, and contains four questions that demand full-length essays.
When we finally finish the standardized test that doesn’t count, I’ve also been directed to have the kids grade their own essays. This isn’t because The Central Office wants the kids to reflect and review. It’s because Downtown doesn’t want to bother grading all the tests that don’t count. So this will take us another day or maybe two.
But today I’ve got to take the whole morning, interrupt the test doesn’t count, and give a test that’s really a test. No Child Left A Dime, as my colleagues put it. A serious standardized test, one that has actual consequences. A test that’s really a test. This is one of several such national tests I will proctor this semester.
All this takes the best part of two weeks. And what did I have to stop? Reading Romeo And Juliet. Writing literary criticism.
Is this really what progressive education has come to? That I should give a national standardized test, which interrupts a standardized test that doesn’t count, which in its turn interrupts reading Shakespeare and writing an essay?
I work in a school district that was founded on the ideals of Friedrich Froebel and Johann Pestalozzi, a district that welcomed the philosophies of John Dewey and W. T. Harris. And I mourn for those visionaries, for my colleagues, for my kids. And for me.