It's the most miserable time of the year. Don't let the warm weather and sunshine fool you because you won't get to enjoy it if you are healthy school aged person who has been raring to get outside to fill your lungs with fresh air and work up a good old fashioned sweat. Why, you ask? Well, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it's time for standardized testing. So sharpen those #2 pencils and break out the bubble sheets, kiddos! You're going to need them for the next three weeks. that's right, not one or two, three freaking weeks of gloriously mindless filling in of tiny blank dots on reams of paper.
Now, I have a degree in education. I know standardized tests are sometimes a necessary evil and under some circumstances they yield useful information in a larger total picture of a particular student's achievement and abilities. There is some value in their judicious use. However, in my opinion they've become a crutch for lazy assessment made on a large scale. Since the travesty known as No Child
I've watched truly excellent locally produced curricula be gutted entirely so there could be time for (God help me, I have to count to 10 before I can even type this out.) "standardized test preparation." (Now excuse me while I take a moment to let loose with a primal scream anyway.) You know, because it's so much more valuable to be able to fill in the bubble sheets to get a score that makes the school look good so it can continue to get a pittance of federal funding rather than to have creative units on local history and space exploration that get the kids really excited and motivated to learn about all sorts of things they never considered before...maybe even to the point where they start doing their own research and start telling the grownups around them about the new things they've learned, things the grownups maybe didn't even know. We certainly don't want any of THAT happening. Give that kid a test packet and settle him down, damn it. We don't want enthusiasm, we want conformity!
While we're at it let's make sure we schedule it for the first weeks of gorgeous weather after a long winter. We really don't want them getting hopeful about something as silly as sunshine. They might expect that as adults too then and who would fill the corporate cubicles then?
All that crap really grinds my gears enough as it is but final insult that makes me want to stand on the roof of the school with a megaphone and shout like a banshee is the form letters and automated phone calls I get with regard to these tests. At no other time of the year does the school seem to give a rat's ass whether or not my kids have gotten a good night's sleep or eaten a proper breakfast but in the weeks leading up to testing I get a mailbox full of letters to tell me how critically important it is, what I need to be doing to encourage a right attitude in "my student" toward this testing. (And seriously, don't even start me on my ire over them referring to my CHILD as my STUDENT.), and finally how nothing short of bubonic plague infection or death had better keep them from attending school during testing. Now, during the weeks of testing I will get numerous automated phone calls at all times of the day and evening to remind me of the same.
What a complete and utter load of festering bovine excrement.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled frivolity or as Suldog might say, "Soon with mo' better stuff."