Test

Testing,
one… two… three…

Silence,
Everyone silent

This is a test,
remember

Take your test ticket,
sign in,
wait quietly;
don’t forget
to be quiet,
quiet as a bug,
motionless and easily
squished beneath
pressure

“How do Victor’s actions
develop the story’s theme?”

“Which detail from the text
best supports your answer?”

“How does this phrase contribute
to the text in paragraph 45?”

“Which of the following
best describes-”

“-best supports your answer to-”

“-contribute to the meaning of the-”

“-evidence provided most clearly in-”

“-Select THREE answers of-”

“-the central idea-”

“-the central idea-”

“-the central idea-”

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#130: The Test

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall

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Someone is always testing or being tested nowadays. It seems like a universal truth in the world of education, that somewhere, someone is being tested for something. SBAC, CMT, NWEA, ETS, SAT, ACT, PSAT, AP, the acronyms go on and on. Working in education is an eternal commitment to testing others, to a certain degree. Months are known by the tests that are taken during them: April is SBAC month, October is PSAT month, for example. The decision to test students constantly was made fairly recently, and the testing industry feeds off of necessity, so there’s no end in sight unless those making the tests decide they are no longer accomplishing their intended purpose. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Alex and I were talking recently about how frequently students are tested nowadays, how they are forced into months upon months of standardized assessments that they are told will determine their future to some degree. The pressure is always, always on. I talked to one of my coworkers recently who said that they were amazed by the fact that Kindergartners are being tested and have to know how to use computers in order to be tested. Essentially, young kids are forced onto these devices by virtue of the fact that they will be tested on them, and so they must be somewhat familiar with how to use the technology. Again, the necessity of taking a test, determined by higher-ups and not the students themselves, demands that they know how to use devices I wasn’t even allowed to touch until I was 8.

But that’s just what testing is like in the realm of education. Nothing else needs to be said. I don’t hate the fact that students are being tested, but I do see a potential conflict in the necessity of testing and those who are being tested. I think it’s right for us to at least examine the effects themselves before determining whether a test is necessary or not.

#35: The SAT

pen writing notes studying

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The SAT. Remember this? I sure do. Nowadays, I remember it as clear as anything else. In 2018, the SAT has returned.

As part of the job interview process, I will be taking a sample SAT, and will attempt to score in the 90th percentile on the test. If I do, and if I interview well, I can land another position, but if I don’t, I’m screwed. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that grand?

I recently bought a guidebook for taking the SAT, called “SAT Prep Plus 2019.” It’s wonderful that I can even afford large textbooks like this, but it wasn’t too expensive. The real expense is going to be mental; can I bear this test without my anxiety causing me to fail it? Basically, can I accomplish this task and still keep my sanity intact? I hope so. I’ve taken plenty of practice tests, scored well on each one, and feel fairly confident about this, and yet there’s a lingering part of me that rejects this whole notion of standardized test-taking as a measure of anything. Maybe it’s just my youth, and perhaps I’ll change my tune on this subject after more experience with the test, but right now I’m a bit bitter about this.

I have a lot of memories with the SAT. Whether it’s taking my first PSAT in high school and (falsely) judging my intellect based on how I scored compared to my peers, or whether it’s proctoring the SAT at North Haven High for the first time and almost botching the delivery of some of the rules in front of a lot of judgmental faces, there’s a decent chunk of my memory devoted to this elusive standardized exam. As someone whose expertise is in education and teaching, I encounter the SAT almost everywhere I go. It never seems to disappear, even when I want it to.

I still remember the room I took my first SAT in, and I remember being taken to the computer lab so the students could look at their PSAT scores. As a teacher, I now know that that was the first time my teacher had seen our scores, too, even though she pretended otherwise. As a teacher, I know that sometimes “pretending otherwise” is an important trait to master, to save face in front of students who don’t believe you. I never quite mastered that one in my time teaching.

One time, when I was in high school, I sought to take the SAT subject test for AP Lit and US History. I scored fairly well on the history test, but not so well on the literature one. I remember asking my parents to let me take these tests because I wanted to get into Williams College, which required subject test scores from two tests at the time. It was a long, long reach, and I was ultimately rejected. But it was worth a shot, as is this SAT re-do I am about to take.

Finals Week

Finals week, finals week oh

How I love finals week!

Presentations, projects galore

Essays and exams more!

Oh finals, finals, everywhere

Stress and anxiety in the air!

I enjoy this finals week of course,

Now, what could ever be worse?