Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Standardized Testing!

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Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!  “For the next sixty seconds, we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, under the direction of the FCC and the Emergency broadcasting system….” to bring you STANDARDIZED TESTING!!!!!  or not.   I remember this shrill sound. I remember watching an old, boxy, wooden RCA colored television with a clicking channel changing dial, and big picture tubes that my dad had to replace through trial and error more than once.  There were no remotes back then people!  So I could not mute the gosh awful noise. I have an aversion to some noise like vacuums.  Apparently not to my own voice.

Yes, I do remember this interruption….and can, nearly word for word, recite the message that made hairs of some individuals neck stand at attention like Texas A&M cadets.  In Texas, it sometimes meant TORNADO, or FLASH FLOOD.  In my sometimes scary Amazon-like third world existence…..it meant giant biting ANTS chewing holes and carrying away a favorite shirt, creepy cockroaches running ladders on my toothbrush, or Africanized bees threatening attack on my tiny racist town.  Yes.  I think you get the picture of the way standardized testing makes me feel in exaggeration.  Ha ha. Horror-ble.

So this distress system sound and message was one that precursed the possibility of natural disaster.  It provided warning, just as the recent multiplicity of email, PLC preparatory trainings, and ethics reviews, usher in another season of testing at my school. I am grateful for the prep and for the foresight. Not so much for the testing.

The beep was a drill to prepare citizens for a potential event.  As a kid, I just thought the whole “event” thing, along with testing, school, and Texas…..strange and wonderful, but mostly confusing and annoying.  The one big deal I did understand was that the emergency warning system interrupted cartoons and delayed a diet of Gilligan’s Island.  

I wonder what kids at my school are thinking about testing.  Maybe I should create a survey, or a testing treatment.  Feng shui IMPENDING ! Oooooooh. I used to read a funny picture book to prep kids in dissipating anxiety.  Laugh it off.  This year I have dosed increased debate, discussion, writing, writing, writing, and minimized laughter.  This is serious stuff people!

TESTING!  Yes.  An interruption of life. A coming attraction.  An event.  A necessary part of American education and society.  A final chapter to a school year. Predictable unpredictable ending. A job and hopefully not an unemployment statistic.  

A beeeeeeeeping reminder that standardized testing is coming to my school in little more than a week.  This year both NWEA, and SAGE testing!  Ahhh!  OMGosh!  Another new, and scarey test requiring faith and a still peaceful knowing heart in the midst of noise and chaos. Hopefully not these last two things.  Big color picture tube living and hopefully a contract next year. Are letters of intent in any way binding?  Doubtful.

I am an elementary school teacher. This is an amazing blessing. There is a measure of consolation in this teaching reality. At times I learn more than my students do. Weird. The fact that I am teaching very young ones provides relief in knowing they are very young and in the beginning phase of the education learning curve.  This is the beginning of education self talk, and of conformity and moralization.  This is good to a point. I believe in the Golden Rule and in respectful behavior at school.  Personally I still need refreshers in this from time to time as I fall short.

The fact that my students are young…. takes a bit of the pressure off of me, and yet there are great expectations! Expectations are good.  Goals are good.  We want growth. Me included. We want students to risk within boundaries.  We want to affirm successes.

Still, I am not a fan of standardized tests and the expectations sometimes associated with such. Expectations much be realistic.  I could beeeeeeeeeeep, and bleep bleep bleep about testing like the next profaning posting person, but I will not publically swear by Heaven or by Earth, much.  I believe in the Law of Attraction.  Any way,  I will not admit to swearing. Instead, I resign to knowing standardized tests are my sad reality and as such, I try to change my thinking to…..”They are not my task master. They are an opportunity to be challenged.” Even though they attempt to be a bondsman, they are just one of my personal emotional trainers. 🙂

Most interrupted days, I do work to do my best to fill little minds with knowledge.  I do this ALL school year to an ultimate numb, anti-climactic reality of dreadful standardized testing. This testing is not a feel good for me….unless you figure in one hour blocks of total silence.  This is sublime.  Maybe I should think it into reality.  Practice this in less writing and fewer posts.

In my school district this year,  the testing window opens on APRIL FOOLS! Ha ha.  This is SOOOOO appropriate! Then the wind blows through this window, stirring up pollen, allergies, and other unneeded stresses.  This phenomena occurs for about six weeks to accommodate all grade levels, closing  mid May and depleting remaining stashes of unused kleenex boxes supplied and demanded by cold and flu season.  This window flexes increasingly to larger and larger,  opening earlier and closing later than in the past… so it seems.  Maybe it just feels this way. Shrug.  What one feels is reality. Must feel good.

Last year’s test results nearly “done me in,” in professional terms of stress and fear, reducing my facade of confident teacher self, and altering my person to psycho blogger. As a result, testing has become a kind of nemesis, a so called “necessary evil,” “a valley of the shadow of death,” leaving an after MATHS. Not good. This was/is damaging. Also harmful, can be viewing and interpreting raw, cut scores, and results.  Some teachers, parents, and student strugglers can see only confirmation of FAILURE, in spite of  making growth.  Growth not at par with benchmark is NOT GOOD ENOUGH apparently, and best attempts on my part at spinning articulation to hopeful and encouragement not always believable.

At Parent Teacher Conferences, teachers get very creative in explaining lovely color line graphs, RIT scores, and comparative numbers.  Other kids, who are more gifted in test taking, celebrate and stroke EGO along with proud parents. Wow. I like to celebrate the smart kid demographics on my crap shoot, third grade teacher selected class list and shrug off the under achiever angels and hellions thinking toward singing Opera.  Cry later. 🙂  I try to give myself an attitude adjustment and then see things more with Jesus eyes.  Love.

Even though the nature of standardized testing is changing, MANY students are still performing below desired benchmark levels. Why is this? Dunno. I read this in a book I gained possession of by default.  I scored it in oogling a coveted FREE give away coffee maker in the workroom.  Then I elected to pass on one addictive device for another, the book.  

The old print, 1995 publication is called SMART MOVES and explores why learning is not all in your head, but is rather largely in your body. The truth is sound in spite of age.  The writing and brain research advocates touch, movement, physical exercise, and brain gym techniques to enhance and and serve as catalyst for learning.  This bides well with kinesthetic learners.  I may be this physical type, along with being very visual, right brain and annoyingly verbal.

And yet adequate time spent on recess and P.E. is under attack or lacking in many schools as fitness levels are declining. There is a direct positive correlation between moving and learning gains.  Why are we missing this point?  At the same time, children have become increasing tech savvied, sedentary and obese.  Sub standard standardized test scores have increasingly resulted in finger pointing whether from couches, or from sporting fields, and academic tracks.  Requires taking steps.  Why aren’t we moved by this?  

The bottom line is….teachers and public schools get black eyes without the physicality and contact.  This is a darn shame! Often Public and politicians do not get a true picture of the success and goodness that is occurring in our classrooms and in the development of the whole child…..maybe it is because we are sometimes addressing only half the child…..the still seated one.

True, Newer tests are becoming less multiple choice and more adaptive and essay in design. The tests are requiring more and more from younger and younger. More technological know how, more reading skills, more typing skills, more writing skills. More introspection, self awareness and esteem. More focus and maturity.  

Protypes and designs are not perfect. Nothing is. They are simply another attempt to assess and label. They are noble attempts at times asking kids to jump, and yes to jump higher.  Why not?

Some of these testing models do NOT seem age appropriate for some children. Tests should not be a one size fits all.  How is that possible?  Core tests can stress out both students and teachers alike. This is the nature of testing I think- regardless of the beast. I think we must be careful in the way we approach and front load testing and the mindset we foster in young ones.  We must not perpetuate fear, but rather steer toward positivity.  I have found this makes a difference in life and learning for any person.

Modern standardized tests are by design, asking students to read more toward tapping into higher levels of understanding. The critical thinking new tests ask is demanding, but good in theory and application.  Science has proven that doing difficult cognitive tasks, and even failing grows neural pathways…grows brains.  Wow. So, part of me is very excited about adaptive demands,  and even Utah’s mysterious Sage testing.  Not so excited about the potential of career damage.

I am a PROPONENT of THINKING, painful or otherwise. YES! Thinking is good. But… Accountability? School Report Cards? Merritt or No Merritt Pay for Teachers? Teacher evaluation. These border on crazy. Yes. As administrators, teachers, and parents we want to see that students are learning and progressing. If not, then we are delusional and seriously misdirected in motives.  

Truly, there are so many ways of achieving desired outcomes. Standardized tests are ONLY ONE WAY. Standardized tests are indicators…..simply blips across a very long time line. They are subjective. They are not designed to be GOD. They are NOT the END ALL, BE ALL, ALPHA & OMEGA. They can not show truly what is in a student’s mind and heart. They can not decisively and diagnostically show potential. They are only an attempt to explain what can not be fully explained. Guess work.  When given choices of A, B, C, and D……….choose letter C!    BAHHHHHH!

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.  Yes, I have surpassed my sixty seconds of testing this emergency broadcast of STANDARDIZED TESTING RANT!  Back to regularly scheduled programming.  While I am checking math tests, Gilligan and the Skipper are preparing for other natural disasters on the island. The Professor, Ginger and MaryAnn are bumbling around.  Thurston Howell III and Mrs. Howell are still looking rich and clueless.  I will get back to work, and to learning, and to laughing as a coping device. Slap stick.  Ouch!  Stupid comedy.  Serious ridiculousness. “Ehe, ehe, Skipper!”  Salute.  

Maybe some day I will start a charter school with a new vision.  Maybe I will make blizzards at McDonalds.  Maybe I will finish out a teaching carreer, or become a legit writer. Maybe a lot of things in finding what I’m really meant to do. 🙂

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About hrobertson2013

“Each man ( and mermaid) will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. Isa 32:2 NIV Warning: The author of this blog is not an ordinary individual. Even Mermaids need a rest from all that's real and grown up. Welcome to the wonder of blog. Come be audience to all that's wet and wild in her stories, poems and thoughts. Instructor by day, super hero by night, and mystical mermaid by summer. Whenever she has the fortune of diving into a pond, reservoir, or mountain waterfall, you'll find her there swimming, and singing songs of life.
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