Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 04 2012

State tests in 15 days.

Have you ever dreaded something so much that every time you think of it, your stomach does a little barrel roll? And you feel kind of nauseated? And you try desperately to think of something, anything else?

And then has that something that you’re dreading ever been something that was beyond your control? Or something that isn’t even something YOU are doing?

This is the NMSBA for me. My kids take this test in 15 days. And we have only 4 instructional days, then Spring Break, then 1 day when we come back and presto, change-o, Test Time.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Who decided we should take the high-stakes standardized test, the test that determines things like our school’s reputation, funding, and future interventions, DIRECTLY AFTER a week of no school? Bear in mind that I have at least 3 students who will not read a book all week. I have 3 who will forget how to multiply in that time. I have at least 1 who may hear fewer words spoken to her all week than she does in 1 day of school, and, if prior breaks are any indication, will also forget her vowel sounds in that time. We have a 4-week window to give the NMSBA, and there is absolutely no reason that we have to do Spring Break in that window. It’s pretty much dumb. I actually wish we didn’t have a Spring Break instead of doing it this way, which is insane because who doesn’t want Spring Break? But these tests are so incredibly high-stakes that they inspire that level of nutso.

But it isn’t making my topsy-turvy stomach feel any better. And although I know my kids have learned a lot this year and have grown in math and reading skills, I have no idea if they’ve grown enough. And I am incredibly, excruciatingly aware that the areas in which they struggle the most, such as comprehending complex or strangely worded questions, or completing multi-step problems, or remembering to answer all parts of the question, are things that the NMSBA is very heavy on.

I will have a week to ponder all this from the relaxing setting of flat on my behind, doing nothing more strenuous than reading a book, which, quite frankly is a break I think my entire school could use. But still…eek. I pray to whatever education gods may be for the clear-thinking, careful work, and ability of my kiddos.

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    In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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