01 May 2010

Testing Week

The TAKS test is an almost mystic event encompassing many deeply rooted customs and rituals. In its infinite wisdom and power the Texas Education Agency has decreed that only those holding current and valid Texas Educator Certificates should be allowed to participate in the most exclusive rites of test administration. I would be perfectly content to share the experience with my certificate free colleagues, but alas, TEA will not allow a paraprofessional, librarian, or office assistant to partake in the TAKS testing tradition. This is mainly because TEA needs a method of recourse. Should their sacredly held procedures be in some way violated resulting in a "testing irregularity" TEA can confiscate my teaching certificate. And so every year at the end of April I put my professional credentials on the line to participate in four days of fun-filled state mandated testing.

The most important part of the testing ritual is pacing. Test administrators must "actively monitor" the students. This means that over the course of 4 hours of testing I can walk about 6 miles all without leaving my classroom. Sitting down is a cardinal sin. The test are not timed. I am required to encourage each student to take as much time as they need to do whatever it takes for them to perform best on their test. Inevitably there is a student in the room who thinks he can perform best on the test by taking a 3 hour nap. After 24 students have already completed the exam, and I have alphabetized all of their answer documents, and organized test booklets by form number, this student will finally decide to wake up and start the test. I have to keep pacing, and all the other students are required to remain seated and silent until the final test is turned in. TAKS testing makes normally sane, reasonable, and competent people crazy.

In an effort to make sure the students take the test seriously, don't cheat, and are generally as miserable as their teachers, we don't let the kids sit by their friends, or even in their normal classrooms. Instead the entire grade level is seated in alphabetical order. In my classroom I had tenth graders from the "Garcia" section of the alphabet. Getting these kids in the appropriate seating order was slightly more complicated than I had anticipated. Not only did they all have the exact same last name, they all had similar first names as well. I had one girl named Jessica, and every other student in my room was named either Jesus, Jorge, Jose, or Juan. After learning every students full name, I finally got everyone sitting in the appropriate seat. As the final Juan took his seat at the end of the last row I giggled a little bit about the whole situation. One of the kids asked me what was funny to which I responded, "We could play twister in this room." The kids gave me blank stares, so I elaborated: "You know...right hand Jose, left foot Juan..." Blank stares continued.

Finally one kid spoke up. "Miss we can't play that game in this room. It's a white person game."

1 comment:

Paily said...

I wanna play twister! Count me in! (This just sounds like some sort of law-suit over oppression waiting to happen...)