Blogger’s Note: The New Mexico Public Education Department has added a new rule to the annual nondisclosure agreement signed by public school teachers in the state. This rule demands those signing not “disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of standardized tests.”
When last we “paraged” the upcoming standardized testing cycles known as “PARCC,” we looked at the middle school testing schedule from early March to Spring Break at month’s end. This March period covers the PARCC “Performance Based Assessments (PBA),” an exciting opportunity for kids to show what they’ve learned in Math and English Language Arts via computer-based tests including cool text boxes, embedded movies and the other aspects of modern computer living that make PARCC more “hip” and “coolio” than any standardized test that has come before. Today, let’s go over the schedule post-Spring Break 2015, as “PBA” becomes “End of Year (EOY)” and a grand culminating celebration of testing “wows and wonders.”
Week Six: April 6-10. This might just be the most exciting and important week of all. It’s the week of test-free curriculum that gives teachers a chance to show student growth between the PBAs and EOY! Teachers and students, working together, have five class days to go from mid-year PBAs to end of year finals, just like the big kids do! Yep, we’re cramming for the Final, together, forming wacky study groups, pulling all-nighters and metaphorically hanging out at the Frontier together madly studying beneath the hotel painting of John Wayne. All that’s missing is the coffee and cigarettes!
Week Seven: April 13-17. Fueled with rapidly crammed knowledge, it’s time to get back into the impromptu computer test labs that led a teacher to two to move their classroom out into the barracks, as 8th Graders tackle EOY tests. They’ve missed these labs in the interim and the “old kids” will have a blast getting back into the testing mindset. 6th and 7th Graders will longingly stare at the impromptu testing labs, library and other test centers like kids enviously looking at a long line of fellow young people waiting to talk with Santa Claus. Their teachers will, after telling the envious kid to “shhh…testing,” playfully tousle the young kids hair and whisper reminders that they, too, will soon have their chance to get back to testing. The week gives these younger kids more time to prepare for the EOY tests, with daily drills in drag-n-drop, highlighting and finding in page sure to bring oohs and aahs from the little ones. Teaching to the test has never been more fun!
Week Eight: April 20-24. 7th Graders get back in the testing saddle, while 8th Graders look back fondly at their two weeks of testing, so far. But there’s no time for misty water-colored memories of testing, it’s time to get ready for a dazzling array of New Mexico End of Course exams! You name it, there’s a NM EOY test for it, including tests in Music, P.E. and Art. Speaking of Art, did you take that “Culinary Arts” elective thinking it would make for a good “study hall” blow-off class? Well, think again, because there’s an EOY test for that, too. For “extra credit,” see if you can spot the misspelled word on this wonderfully long list of NM EOCs from your friends at the Public Education Department!
Week Nine: April 27- May 1: 6th Graders, step on up, you’re the lucky winners this week! Some out there might be asking: what happens to multiple grade classes, with, say, both 7th and 8th graders in them? Well, they will be slightly disrupted by testing. What about Special Education classes? Yes, they too tend to have kids of all grades, but they’re small anyway and, besides, the online testing is enough challenge for them to make any new curriculum only another headache. These are small matters compared to the fun of a sparkling, brand-new standardized tests. In fact, everyone by next May will surely be asking: why didn’t we have this sort of schedule in Fall Semester! Why can’t we just have testing all year long!
Week Ten: May 4-8: Like all great things, PARCC, too, must come to an end. Like the circus or a carnival with really cool prizes for filling up plastic’s clown mouth with water shot from a very realistic-looking handgun, the show must move on. Make-ups are finished here for those kids who didn’t get to have the fun when originally scheduled. Computer labs are boxed-up, so to speak, ready to return for PARCC next year. The Library reopens and kids have the chance to blow the dust off the books that have sat untouched since late February. It would all be terribly sad and poignant, if not for…
Week Eleven: May 11-15: END OF COURSE EXAMS!!! We were just faking! It’s not over kids! The testing fun continues with the aforementioned dazzling array of exams in subjects like Art and Music. Those saying “I don’t know much about Art, but I know what I like”…well, tough! Can’t read a E-flat Major scale, music people, we’ll find out about it! But seriously, we don’t know exactly what will be on the Music test, or several other ones because the tests are still being developed. Maybe the Music test will really be on the Rolling Stones v. The Beatles, or a huge essay test on whether “Anaconda” is an appropriate song to combat body issues in women, especially when combined with the tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation implicit in the sampled Sir Mix-a-lot tune from which it sprang, so to speak. Whatever it is, it will be “music to our testing ears”!
Week Twelve: May 18-22: MORE END OF COURSE EXAMS!!! There will be some annual events like the 8th Grade Dance and passing out the Yearbook stuff thrown in there, too, but only if it doesn’t interfere with the Culinary Arts test. More than anything, this week offers everyone the chance to bask in the afterglow that has been a wondrous season of testing. It’s been more memorable than any Yearbook, more inspiring that any teacher. We simply can’t wait for it all to happen again and hope fervently that Governor Susana Martinez wins next week and keeps Hanna Skandera from running off, that Arne Duncan is appointed federal Education Secretary for Life, and that Pearson and other wholesome multinational corporations continue to help us help kids in the way only they can. We’re gonna feel like crying when this year’s testing is over, but there’s always the promise of more and more testing next year. Yay!