“Betty Bought Butter, But the Butter Was BITTER…” (Or Wait…Maybe I’m Just Bitter)
I’d say we’re about halfway through the year, no? One might even refer to this as a “midpoint” or “mid year” or the “middle of the school year.” All those terms would be accurate. And if one was giving, let’s say, a midyear assessment, this would be the time of year they would considering administering said test, right? I mean, perhaps the “mid year assessment” which is to be completed mid way through the year doesn’t have to be given on exactly day number 90, but, you know, somewhere close. Somewhere logical. I, for one, always gave midyear assessments in the first couple of weeks of February before vacation. That way, I could take a couple of days of my vacation (That’s right, I said, “TAKE A COUPLE OF DAYS OF MY VACATION,” to all you people out there who are about to poo-poo our glorious vacations.) to analyze the results, make small groups and adjust my instruction accordingly. You know, because I rocked. And because doing it this way was a billion times easier than trying to get all that work, thinking, list making and planning done in my classroom since someone had apparently installed a revolving door that people I considered Wastes of Time loved to use freely.
(Mrs. Mimi got her bitter back. You know, to balance out all the touchy feely stuff. I have RANGE, people!)
Why am I making such a big deal out of the middle of the year you ask? Because I was
staring blankly at my computer screen waiting for my dissertation to write itself allowing my mind to wander down memory lane, thinking about what I would be doing if I was in my classroom right now. And then I remembered this little gem of a story…
These days, schools are obsessed with data. School systems are also filled with people who don’t come in contact with children, have never taught a child and whose job description may or may not be deemed as necessary by people like us. You know, teachers? Put those two things together and viola! You get mandates for teachers to test test test the daylights out of children all so someone can shake a paper, hold up some numbers and say, “See?!? Look what I did!” When really, what have they done? But that’s another post for another day.
You may be thinking, “This Mrs. Mimi person has some balls? How can she just make accusations like that??”
Because friends, I have seen this point in action. Last year, the Bacon Hunter proved my point like a true champion.
You see, last year, the midyear came and went. So, I happily gave my own (useful, teacher created, thoughtful) assessments and considered myself lucky to have bypassed all the other crap. I figured, “Hey, let’s just let sleeping dogs lie.” and kept my mouth shut. After all, I can’t be expected to do everyone’s job, now can I?
And then it was May. What one might refer to as the end of the year. The final portion of the school year. Our last few weeks together. Time to wrap things up. However, you want to phrase it, it is pretty undeniably THE END (as is evidenced by increasingly hyper children who spend their private reading time gazing out the window at all that sunshine and teachers who begin packing up their classroom a month early).
In rare form, the Bacon Hunter swept into our team meeting one day and declared, “You need to give the mid year assessment this week!”
To which we replied, “WTF?”
JUST KIDDING! That part was in our heads. I meant to write, to which we replied, “Uh, come again?”
(dropping stacks of TEN PAGE assessments on our desks) “You MUST give the mid year assessment this week!” (And BOOM! went the stack of papers as they crashed into my desk or maybe that was the sound of my patience finally giving out…)
“Um, I mean call me crazy, but shouldn’t we be giving some sort of final assessment instead?”
“You will be, in two weeks.” (More enormous stacks of paper are now dropped in front of us as rain forests everywhere wept from the sheer devastation. Or wait, was I crying?)
(I’ll pause here so that you can pull yourself together. I know I needed a moment.)
“So you’re saying that we’re giving a TEN PAGE mid year assessment, followed by a TWELVE PAGE final assessment just two weeks later?”
“Yes.” (Boom! The papers crushed me to my very teacher soul.)
And guess who got to correct all those little gems? (You are the big winner if you guessed ME and MY SPARE TIME.)
Maybe I need to go back to school and take another class (Wait a minute…) but I always thought that the point of assessing children was to get a snapshot of their current learning so that you could adjust future instruction. Here was the reason we were given. Cuz, you know, we asked.
“I just need to have all this data on file. End of discussion.”
AHAHAHHHHHHH! On FILE! Of course! It needs to be ON FILE! Well, that sounds totally valid. We have drawers to fill people! Gear up those number two pencils!!
So my little friends, dreaming about fun in the sun, were subjected to four days (because that’s how long it takes to get though TWENTY TWO PAGES of math test) of testing. At least two of which were totally, utterly and wholly unnecessary. And all because they needed to learn that valuable lesson…that lesson written of in Mother Goose rhymes and Aesop’s Fables…you know the one I’m talking about, right? Say it with me now, “Good boys and girls go to school and pay attention so that one day they can pass a test.” Lesson learned.