The Most Miserable Time of the Year


It’s a sad scene when kids who can’t read are forced to take standardized tests they have no reasonable chance of passing.

It’s even sadder when they know it.

Here’s one who has made considerable reading improvements thus far this year but still has no clue what he’s doing. (“I’m so confused,” he said.)

Here’s one on a kindergarten reading level who this year finally learned all her letter sounds. She goes through each word sounding out every s-i-n-g-l-e letter and considers it reading. When she gets to the questions, she says in her developing English, “I no know.”

This one’s crying. That one’s been staring at the same question for ten minutes. This one’s coloring in the picture that accompanies the passage. That one’s finished almost as quickly as I am done reading the directions.

“Pointless” is not even a word that begins to come close to describing the value these tests have to me and my students. News flash: they’re all going to fail. News flash again: force me to sit for three days taking a five hour test on physics and I’ll fail, too. I can tell you this without even looking at the test.

If you need an assessment of my students’ readiness for the next grade, you might consider asking me. After all, I can tell you all the things a test can’t, such as the types of scaffolds that have enabled them to make some strides this year. Or how much greater the comprehension is when text is read to them. Or what else they need to learn to continue to move forward. Or how they’re “accessing” the grade level standards but, given all their deficits, it’s virtually impossible without a lot of support and guidance. Or who has involved parents and who pretty much fends for themselves once they get home. Or who may be being hit, or who doesn’t eat breakfast, or who brings chips and calls them “lunch.”

I could tell you plenty about these kids, and plenty about the tests.

The sorry thing, though, is that no one’s asking.

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4 responses to “The Most Miserable Time of the Year

  1. Ah yes but see we teachers don’t really know anything do we? I really really wish those that require these tests, those that speak ill of teachers, those that make the laws could be required to spend time doing our job (I was going to say teaching but actually being a teacher is so much more than just teaching, we wear so many hats.)

  2. Totally understand. When I was young, we took one standardized test a year and that was it, so we tried. Now, my students have taken at least 30 between practice and the actual test. In all actuality, they don’t care anymore. I wonder when anyone has time to instruct when we’re testing to death. And that kid drawing pictures on the test, who’s too tired, has home issues, doesn’t speak English, etc? I have those too, except we’re told it’s OUR fault when a student fails and our salary should be tied to their success (as determined by their test scores.) I’m just glad we finally moved to needing to show growth. But that opens up a whole new Pandora’s box. Now, our top kids are penalized because “You had a 98% last year and only a 96% this year–you’re not showing growth.” If only the bureaucrats would stay out of it and let us do our job!

  3. I’m with you. What I hate is that they do, do their best and so do I. However, my evaluation is based upon their scores. I have high expectations for them and for myself. It’s sad when I start the year and see those scores. Ugh

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