Kids also talk to me about the tests. Luckily, at the elementary level I haven’t gotten any deep questions about why they have to take the tests, although I know they touch on this in their classrooms. They tell me things like, “I’m scared. What if I fail the [OAA reading] test and can’t go to 4th grade?” Or “I’m sick of taking tests.” They don’t know that these are high-stakes tests. They don’t realize that if many of them do poorly on one or more of the tests, in our district at least, their teachers may be offered probationary contracts instead of standard contracts. They don’t understand that low performance on these tests may lead to a reduction in funding for the entire school.
School secretaries rarely encounter students at their best. Students come to the office when they’re tardy, sick, injured, misbehaving, and in trouble. They ask the secretary for help when they leave their homework in Mom’s car or lose their house key. They dash through the office door when their medication has worn off and it’s time for their next dose. They are often embarrassed, uncomfortable, distressed, angry, or upset when they’re in the office.
For almost twenty years, I have prepared students in my classes for the Proficiency Test, the OGT, the ACT, and now the PARCC and my own SLOs. Never before this year have I felt that the testing took over my classroom. The testing is ridiculous. Every teacher knows it, and now with the many issues with the PARCC and AIR tests, parents, too, are realizing that required testing has gotten out of control. As a teacher, it seems to me we have a few options about how to approach these tests.