Just when you think the bubble tests are over I get slammed with a bubble test that all my 9th grade students must take in order to “place them” in an appropriate 10th grade class.
70 questions. Passage upon passage of reading that is almost purposefully dry and needs a sense of prior knowledge of its historical context to appreciate… and what’s it going to show?
Zilch, if you ask me. I mean to give this kind of test to my kids right now is to beg them to simply Christmas tree the thing. Didn’t we just undergo a HUGE series of bubbles tests, the kind that shut down the entire school? And aren’t we but weeks away from the end of the year? And aren’t I about ragged about fighting with the higher-ups about the ridiculousness of these tests?
Are we over-testing? Geesh, we just got done with state tests, we we required to give district worksheet pre-tests as practice for the tests and now they want us to simply give these tests?
What the hell do they expect these tests to prove? Let me guess:
Our English Language Learners have low literacy skills. Check.
Our Gifted and Talented Kids overwhelmingly do not score in the “Highly Proficient” realm when standardized tests are given thus calling into question whether or not our “gifted” kids are really gifted. Check. (But if you know anything about G.A.T.E. one can be identified as G.A.T.E. as a result of aptitude in any number of modalities and just because a kid is wicked with visual puzzles doesn’t mean they are going to score off the charts in the grammar section of Bubbleville, U.S.A.)
Our district is struggling with how to do something to get the state off its back because we keep sliding lower and lower down the NCLB Dante Circle of Hell Scale since it seems we are a wee bit behind when it comes to having all of our kids be at “proficient level within the next 5 years” — so they are starting to turn the screws on us now. Check.
Our kids have absolutely no breaking point and if they do, we are going to find it so we know what not to do in the future. Check.
Our teachers? Oh they are just chimps-for-hire… it’s their job to simply do what they’re told. Check.
It’s freakin’ lunacy! And I stormed out of school ready to pop a blood vessel cause, of course, there was no notice given to me. There was no feedback sought about the sanity of this system. There was no input asked for whereby my opinion — or any other teacher’s — was courted to see how this might fly. I mean, what are we, chopped liver?
But these bubble tests were simply delivered to my door today with the mandate that they get administed so that kids could be properly placed in next year’s class sections.
Huh? Excuse me. A couple of questions? Are these tests the only criteria for their placement next year?
If not, what weight do they hold?
Are there other mitigating factors in determining who will be “placed” where?
Who wrote this test?
A textbook company. That’s right, they simply copied it from one of the pre-packaged, corporate monsters that have their meathooks in our school’s wallets. Here’s question number 30.
The following question is not about the reading selection. Read and answer the question.
We borrow words as well as customs from other cultures. From the names of the Norse gods Odin, Thor, and Freya we get which words?
F) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
G) origin, thirsty, frightened
H) alpha, beta, kappa
J) January, February, March
Like I said, this is just one of 70 questions. Anybody else think that there might be something wrong with this.
1) I taught absolutely NO Norse mythology this year.
2) Why do they use an F, G, H, J system. First of all, 99% of bubble tests use A,B,C, D and if you work with real kids, you know that to throw in F, G, H, J is to throw them for an unnecessary loop. Furthermore, why did they skip the letter I? Look at it, it goes F, G, H, J — it’s ridiculously and unnecessarily disconcerting.
3) Not even the teacher knows the answer. Burn me in the pyres of Odin but I don’t really have a freakin’ clue what the correct answer choice is — and I have a master’s degree in cross-cultural language arts. My 15 year old English Language Learners though, I am sure they are gonna nail this.
4) How much money did my school pay to this textbook company for these kind of resources again? And in light of the fact that a big percentage of our staff was laid off due to budget cuts, might we not be accused of financial imbecility?
Do I need to go on? About a thousand demoralizing questions popped up… and so, I left. I left school without even raising the issue.
Way too infuriating. Way to mindless. Way too cooked up in the ivory towers of people who do not really know what’s going on down on the ground floor. And no one even explained that we’d be giving this test to me face to face.
Then again, I can kinda see why? I mean would you want to be the one to tell me this is the program, now jump onboard and close your mouth please? That’s why they simply sent a student, an office T.A. with a pile of tests and answer sheets and absolutely no information at all so that if I dared to interrogate this kid, he’d legitamately know nothing.
Of course I snapped at him, “Who gave these to you?”
“I was just told to give these to you.”
“Who told you?”
“The front office.”
“I dunno. They just told me to give you this.”
Yep, they sent a patsy!
Makes my blood boil. But of course I know where it came from. But that person got it from a person who is having the screws turned on them. And that person is having the screws turned on them. So in the midst of all this screw turning, stuff like this happens. “I mean we gotta do something, right?”
And then, just when I thought all is lost, I came home to this email… and I calmed down.
Dear Mr. Sitomer,
I just received my copy of your newest book, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez and felt compelled to write you to tell you not only how excited I am to read your newest book, but how much of an impact your books have had on hundreds of my students.
I am a middle school math and reading teacher in an low-income, high minority, industrial area of Denver, CO, called Commerce City. (Not much unlike the Commerce City in California.) I discovered your books 2 years ago when I was attempting to instruct quite possible the most reluctant readers on the planet. Since that time, I have purchased over twenty of your books and used them to convince hundreds of teenagers, especially boys, that reading in fact does not “suck.” Your stories more closely resemble my students’ lives and they are able to see themselves in the characters. I anticipate your new book will hit even closer to home for them.
I hope you continue to write for along time so that my students will always have something amazing to read.
Thank you for what you do,
Lacey S Taschdjian
Adams City Middle School
Commerce City, CO
Is it just me or is every teacher’s life one of mood swings from depression and I hate this shit! to Man, it’s great to do what I do, trying to help kids and other teachers… like every day of our professional lives?
Aaarrggh!! And to think that some people are on summer vacation and I am going through this right now. For those of us on staff still, we approaching the point of requiring medication.