Yeah, I hate the end of the cycle. I hate having to give test after test after test. We try so hard to stress that one little number on a test isn’t going to be the last word on whether or a student gets promoted … but then we give them so many tests they forget how to fill in the box that says “Name.” Reading test. Math test. Practice GED tests (all seven-disguised-as-five of them).
Granted, I am so tired from this race to the end of term that I don’t mind having a day when I don’t actually have to teach, all I have to do is give a test … but that sucks, too. I have always hated tests, and surely that’s because I’ve never been very good at them. I have debilitating test anxiety. I even freaked out at the DMV when I took the test for my permit. The moment the proctor said, “You will have 15 minutes to complete the test,” everthing I ever knew about the rules of the road drained out of my head.
I did well in school despite my test-taking terror. I didn’t do as well as I could have, but I was ok. It’s no surprise, though, that I chose a college that didn’t give exams, where my grades would be decided by the papers I wrote. Yes, there were lots and lots of papers, but I was freed from the tyranny of timed testing.
What did tests ever do for me other than set in motion the early greying of my hair? I took those aptitude tests in high school. The results came back saying I could be one of the greatest mechanics the world has ever seen. That or a high-ranking military official. Really. Me. A woman who couldn’t be any less mechanically inclined. A woman who cannot deal with conflict even on the small, hey-you-cut-the-linelevel. Some combination of multiply-chosen answers connected the dots to those wacky conclusions. Those tests inspired ROTC’s hard sell to recruit me.¹ Those test results proved to me that standardized testing has no value.
My students mostly take all the testing in stride. It is, after all, what they expect from school. No matter who different their classroom experience here is from what they remember from high school, this part they expect to follow the known pattern. Seems they never believe me when I say that the scores aren’t the only factors I consider when it’s time to look at promotion. Go figure.
¹ Nevermind that the military wasn’t the direction I saw myself going, I might have at least given them a second thought if not for the recruitment letters they sent my way: all addressed to Mr. Stacie (GirlGriot’s Last Name Here) . That fabulous, future-five-star-general score could only be from a boy? Thank you kindly, but if you show your sexism from the jump, I don’t really need to be working with you after all.