An Ode To The Big Tests - The Jose Vilson

An Ode To The Big Tests

by Jose Vilson on April 16, 2012

in Jose

Here’s to you.

Here’s to the students who will be pelted with Scantron sheets and test booklets emblazoned with the shape of New York State, a place they’ve explored so little.

Here’s to the students who, after 140 days of mixed concentration for varied reasons, will be asked to focus all their energies on answering 50+ multiple choice and 9+ extended response questions they’ll have to take over the course of three days for English … and 3 days for math.

Here’s to the students who have different accommodations, whose friends only get 90 minutes of torture a day when they have to sit there for 120 or 180 minutes, wasting their lives away slowly by this excruciating process.

Here’s to the students who get labels like ELL (English Language Learner) and also have the misfortune of making it to eight grade, where a kid has to take an ELA, Math, Science, ESL, Field Test, and city-administered interim diagnostic test. It’s bad enough the ELA and Math tests take 3 “full” days to administer. The Science test is a two-part test, one for practicum and another with more Scantrons and booklets. The worst of all is the ESL test, where they test the four modalities of language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Here’s to the humble observer who thinks that, if they pass the ELA test, they should automatically qualify for a golden ticket out of the ESL test, because you’re wrong. Dead wrong. The same observer might have noticed that it takes someone 3-5 years to acquire a language in full, but they’d be wrong to think kids get that amount of time to acquire the language. Try a year and a day for qualification. No more, no less.

Here’s to the teachers who forewent teaching passionately in favor of teaching students how to answer test questions, scared that their publicly accessible data reports will load the gun for administrators to shoot their careers down. A teacher has every right to dead hair follicles, wrinkled cheeks, and mysterious itch outbreaks from the stress inducing season of testing.

Here’s to the teachers that raise a beer to the next one and says, “It’s alright. It’s alright. It’s not your fault.” Specifically when it’s not.

Here’s to the administrators straddling the role of teacher of teachers and soothsayer to outsiders holding all the wrong people accountable for all the wrong things, who fights alongside their teachers to supplant the testing industry, and who confidently say “No.”

Here’s to the students who may have in fact learned how to answer the questions on the test, but still can’t find the length of the hypotenuse or making a meaningful argument about their passions without prompt.

Here’s to Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michelle Rhee, and the whole gang of people who tailor their philosophies around the idea that a holographic Sal Khan projected against the mostly dead SmartBoards / Promethean Boards would more readily save education before student and teacher voice will.

Here’s to the teacher who invested all those days angry that he or she invested all those days in preparing kids for a test that they don’t like. They join the millions (and millions) of teachers who wish the parents and students had enough voice to join ours against the testing hysteria. All well and good for well-resourced kids, educational malpractice for our least-resourced.

Here’s to the students who, rather than get nervous about the tests for the next 6-8 weeks, prefer to just let it all pass. Indeed, this too shall pass. Maybe they will, too.

Mr. Vilson.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne V April 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

And here’s to Mr. Vilson, who lets us all have it straight. If I wasn’t reading meteorology homework, I’d actually raise a glass…

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Hugh O'Donnell April 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

What’s the dope on the difference between NYS Regents Exams that I took as a high school student (circa 1958-1962) and current standardized tests.

I’ve been out here in Oregon for the last 50 years (!) and I’m a little out of touch.

Just askin’…

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Hugh O'Donnell April 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Forgot the question mark.

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Deven Black @devenkblack April 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm

It is time for education civil disobedience. Parents should keep students home on testing days, and those students who go to school should refuse to take the tests. Teachers should refuse to grade them. We all need to stop playing the game. When we do, the big bad rich neighborhood toughs will take their data ball and go home to mope.

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Homework Help April 19, 2012 at 6:23 am

@DevenKBlack – Don’t you think it’s just over the top…

And Great post Vilson, your name reminds me of ‘Dennis the Menace’

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Jose April 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

#jokesfromdecadesago

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Nia April 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

ha, great read Mr. Vilson!

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Casey Lark August 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Here’s what I think. Khan Academy is really satisfying. Those morons who can’t understand math anyway can be kept busy earning badges whilst our happy STEM students and Ivy League offspring can get an education!

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