Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Testing Part 2: The Ten Commandments

Here are this author's Ten Commandments of Testing Protocol, complete with editorial comments at no extra charge!  (All of the "commandments" below were true as of the date of this post.)
  1. Teachers shall not talk about any test item with other teachers or with students.  If they do, they risk losing their teaching license.  (Ironically, this might actually be a good rule, since there are far more worthy causes over which to lose one's license!)
  2. Teachers shall not leave the room for any reason unless there is a certified teacher available to replace them.  If a teacher does leave the room and leaves a non certified but competent adult in charge, every test in the room could be invalidated.  (Now there's an idea!)
  3. Students shall not, under any circumstances, leave the room and return to continue on the same subtest.  If they do leave the room and resume testing, their test could be invalidated.  (This is likely based on the paranoid assumption that the student's motive for leaving the room is to reach a secure location where he or she can send a text message to a student in another room in order to give them the answer to test question #6!)
  4. Students shall not go to the bathroom until after they finish a subtest, only one at a time, and only with an adult escort.  Violating this commandment could lead to test invalidation.  Get out the kitty litter!  (Perhaps this commandment was written in order to make sure students are not secretly meeting in the bathrooms to discuss test questions. Imagine that!  What could be a more titillating bathroom discussion topic to a third grader?!)
  5. Students shall believe with all their hearts that the tests actually matter; that doing well will bring reward and that doing poorly will invoke disagreeable consequences.  (In reality, those who do well and those who don't are punished equally when the school inevitably fails to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a fate that awaits all but approximately 10% of America's schools by 2014.)
  6. Students shall not have any breaks whatsoever during the administration of a subtest, even if the test lasts two or three hours due to a few slower or more meticulous test takers.  (Is this a test that measures academic achievement, or one that measures physical and mental endurance under stress?)
  7. Students shall waste enormous amounts of time waiting for the last classmate to finish the test.  The tests are untimed.  Therefore, the testing session is over when the last student in the room has finished. Those who finish long before the last student is finished are in a sense held hostage by the last finisher since they must do nothing but read for possibly the next 1 to 2 hours.  (While this is in some sense an improvement over the timed tests of the past—when teachers were instructed to literally rip an unfinished test out of a student's hands when time expired—it also has negative repercussions.)  
  8. Students shall read and read and read again.  If a student finishes early, his or her only option is to read. Never mind the fact that all they've been doing prior to finishing the subtest is read, even in math.  You must read a book!  (If a student finishes early and, God forbid, begins drawing a picture or designing a plan to halt global warming instead of reading a book, this could result in the invalidation of every test in the room!) 
  9. Students shall not arrive late to school on testing days.  This will result in the student spending the entire morning in the office with nothing else to do but keep an eye on the office staff and the principal to make sure they do their jobs! The student must make up the test later that day in an isolated room while the other kids are in their classroom, once again engaged in meaningful learning activities.
  10. Nobody shall criticize the tests without running the risk of being labeled non compliant, uncooperative, disobedient, obstructive, old fashioned, selfish, subversive, or a bad sport.
(End of Part 2)

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