You can literally sense the boredom in the air as another six-day grind of standardized testing begins at my beleaguered middle school. Yeah, that middle school. The one, apparently the only one, where the kids don’t write good.
As my school and the inability of its students to express themselves in a written form has become the local news equivalent of Britney Spears not wearing panties or Michael Jackson dangling a baby off a balcony, there is little need to further address that issue here.
Besides, it’s “Opening Day” for standardized testing. Time to shake off the bad press, get that old confidence back and mind-numbingly bubble some answers, hour after hour, a half-day at a time for two weeks.
Oh, sorry..I just went into a little coma.
Just as with everything else pertaining to education, standardized testing has controversies. Many don’t like the idea of testing at all. Some oppose aspects of how the tests are administered. Plenty of folks don’t like the emphasis (“high stakes”) on these bubbling fests.
Others complain about the nature of the actual test questions, that the tests aren’t really “normed”, that the little stories questions in the tests are laughably inane and so on, and so on.
“All of the above” is true, but there is one stupid testing requirement that shines above all others. It is the one testing criteria that absolutely no one likes or can even comprehend.
It is this: When students finish a section of the test and must wait for the next section they are not allowed to draw. They must not doodle, cross-hatch, shadow, etc. Stick-figures, 3-D portraiture and landscapes are forbidden. Action scenes involving “ligers”, dragons and bloody swords…can’t do it.
For years now we teachers have been told this, and not a single one of us can figure out why this rule exists. It has achieved something of a questionable “urban myth” status, yet every year the question comes up, the answer is the same, the staff derisively laughs and, being the little law-abiding sheep teachers are, we dutifully write down “no drawing”.
I reckon finding Orwellian elements in standardized testing is like spotting bad grammar in a 6th grader’s essay. Pretty damn easy. But this “no drawing” thing just has an Animal Farm meets “Brazil” bureaucratic mindlessness to it that’s hard to beat.
With that happy confluence of images, we in Team Jefferson MS are ready for another soul-crushing “Opening Day”. Play Ball! And stop dangling that