Monday, April 12, 2010

We Interupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog...

...for a rant.

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 Gets Ahead Left Behind was enacted they've been hopped up on bureaucratic steroids and ballooned into freakishly artificial monsters.

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."


18 comments:

Moannie said...

Phew! When you let rip,Lime you don't mess about.

Our schooling system has been so trashed by the Liberal idea that CHILDREN MUST NOT BE MADE TO FEEL THEY ARE LOSERS that those who work and study should not be rewarded, while the kid that continually disrupts the class must be treated with kid gloves.
The latest idea is that children do not need to learn history...Kings and Queens and all that old tosh...and certainly nothing of our late lamented Empire...too shameful. Wars...nah! Mustn't upset the Germans or the Japenese...think of all the goods we swap. As for the three rrrs, too boring. And tests...I'm told that tests rule, that is until some Whitehall greyhead thinks up something better.

Craig said...

(*sigh*)

I hear ya, Lime. . . the testing has gotten completely out of hand.

Cricket said...

Amen - I'm with you completely. Perhaps you will forgive me for reposting an observation from one of my own posts?

Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, there is a lot of money to be made in standardized curricula and high-stakes testing. Did you know that the Bush family is very close to the McGraw family, of McGraw-Hill fame? No? Remember Neil Bush, from the Silverado S & L? He has a new career in educational software. Interesting.

It's probably just a coincidence.


Hmmm, I wonder. Must go, it's too early to get my blood boiling.

furiousBall said...

well said, couldn't agree with you more

Suldog said...

You know it fries my biscuits whenever anyone is made to be less than free, so you know I agree with you.

Michelle H. said...

*head slam on desk*

You just had to revive that memory of Pennsylvania's standardized zombie-fying of the poor children's creativity and imagination. I still remember the blinds, THE BLINDS, being drawn over the bright, warm, sunshiny day outside... putting the classroom into momentary darkness, eclipsing the room in a stuffy doomsday gloom of impending "fill-in-the-dots."

fill in the dots...
fill in the dots...

*SCREAM!!*

Of course, it could be worse. I just heard a local school in western PA is getting rid of homework completely. Their thinking is that it is up to the parents to engage in afterschool creativity and motivation in those scholastic endeavors.

Jazz said...

Well I have no "students" and I don't even know whether we have standardized testing here in Canada - though I suppose so, but may I say this sentence:

What a complete and utter load of festering bovine excrement

had me giggling with glee

Hilary said...

Ugh.. one of my pet peeves when my kidlets were in school were the EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) testing. They spent weeks "preparing" for the tests which were supposed to grade them on what they've learned through the regular curriculum.

The tests (reading, writing and math) lasted two weeks for grades 3, 6 and 9 (math only) but were held (still are) in JUNE when it gets very hot here, and very few of our schools are air conditioned.

The buildup was so huge that some students would be sick with worry.

The whole school took on a funeral home-like atmosphere during that time. Not only did the test-writing kids have to focus, the other grades had to do everything silently so that they not disturb their focus. This meant closed doors, no air flow, cranky, uncomfortable teachers and kids.

Mine didn't worry about them (one was confident - the other didn't care)but it was a horrible time for many kids and the parents who felt the pressure. Some poor kidlets got it from both sides.

Craver Vii said...

"My students." I am affected the same way with this newspeak garbage. It has even creeped into the church. I get a bad reaction when I hear a barely out of school youth worker refer to my son or daughter as "their" kids, and instead of being my children, they are called "the students."

S said...

I totally concur.
These fricking tests took all what hair poor high school teacher Gary had left offa his head!

Cuz, ya know, if "your student" doesnt fare well on his test packet, it's Garys fault, right?

Gary has kids that google stuff on their phones while writing essays, copying entire paragraphs from the internet and not getting it that they are plagerizing.
Yes they got in heaps of trouble, but still dont get it.

~Dragonfly~* said...

Please... all give a collective scream for me as I sit here at my desk in total silence (while the kiddies are filling in bubbles) trying to crunch my curriculum, which I am still required to teach with weeks less time!!!!! I used to raise shad fry with my classes to release into the river and teach about environmental restoration.... No more time for that.... :( Must hold my tongue and repeat... I love my job, I love my job, I need the money, I need the money... oops. I mean I love my job!!!

Cocotte said...

It's like the testing never ends here. Between the state standardized tests for every grade, the state graduation test, the Standford, the Otis-Lennon, the PSAT, and the practices for all of the above, there isn't much time for actual 'teaching.'

And don't get me started on the 'career' crap.

coopernicus said...

The name 'standardized testing' should give you a big clue. Don't these schools do enough damage to these kids forcing them all to think alike?
My school district puts such massive pressure on these kids, telling them their entire future rests on the results of these tests, that it's no wonder the kids are smoking, drugging and drinking...they need something to relieve the anxiety and stress.
And while I'm ranting....does anyone remember what these tests used to be called in the pre-boomer/yuppie days?
Remember 'Intelligence Tests'? This big thing was determining a child's IQ. Now that certainly is not going to hold up in these days of soft language and political correctness...so now it's 'standardized testing' so little Johnny doesn't get his self-esteem crushed by his single digit IQ score. You know what? Not every kid is going to be the CEO of their own start-up - in fact 99% of them are not. Burger King and Wal-Mart will always need employees in vast numbers.

Logophile said...

You know how I feel about this.
I'm with you, sister.

G-Man said...

You mean BULLSHIT?

Ameratis said...

This is but one of the many reasons I would love to homeschool my future children, because we can go to the history museum while we are studying history, or we can go outside to have our science lesson instead of filling in bubbles.

Jocelyn said...

My Girl starts days of her yearly tests tomorrow. It reminds me of why my sister, the elementary teacher, moved to Guatemala when Bush passed NCLB.

Pauline said...

At the school where I work, we call NCLB "no teacher left."

You say, "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."

I say amen! And why can't THEY see it as clearly? Perhaps it's because the educational system is really a business and money, not learning, is the bottom line?