The number of times I sat down to write post and hit delete instead: 30
Or maybe it was more.
The last weeks of school were spent doing almost anything other than educating students. From 7:45-12:30 students sat in rooms where they were supposed to take tests that showed whether or not they had learned anything. Or, if they were sophomores-seniors, they sat in rooms where they tested to show testing companies what questions should be used on a test and where cut scores should be set. Or they bubbled B (or if they were creative ABBA) for all their answers and put their heads down to sleep.
When we were told we’d test 45 days this school year, I don’t think the impact of that hit until we were in the midst of the test days. Then it was too late to plan a way to keep an afternoon class on task. Seat of the pants lessons to keep learners engaged became the name of my game. I’m still not sure how my kids made their final newspaper deadlines, but they did. Yearbook distribution without announcements…don’t even get me started.
By the time the year was done, I was exhausted and the students looked like they’d been through a war. I’m a student media adviser. I can’t imagine what my core teacher friends felt like.
At the end of testing I took two seniors to the State Academic meet. One won 6th in headlines. I love when the kids medal at State! State was moved to the end of the school year because of testing. Testing runs everything in our school system now. 10 years ago if you had told me our last six weeks would be built solely around tests, that nothing else would matter, I would have laughed. Joke’s on us, the educators, who sat quietly back and let this happen. Who became pawns to educationese like formative and summative and common core, rubrics, holistic grading, and data, data, data. I embraced those words. I believed in them.
I’m not sure what the answers are, but I know this testing monster we’ve created isn’t the answer we’re looking for.
On the bright side all this testing has pushed me to write like never before. I have a new young adult novel out this month. It’s my first contemporary YA, and I’m excited to hear what people think. I’m working on an inspirational romance and I’m revising a contemporary romance. Maybe I should send thank you notes to TEA and Pearson. They’ve inspired me.
I’ll be keeping up with education politics, and I’m sure I’ll blog about it over the summer. The last few weeks of school, I couldn’t. It made me want to cry.
Thank God for summer!
My new book: Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee. Get it here.