One Day in the Life of Testing: Both a Shame and a Sham

My sixth grade students are testing today. It’s not on the schedule, though, because the day we were scheduled to test, the STAR system was down. In the midst of that dilemma, while experiencing student after student claiming they couldn’t sign in, I was able to contact a teacher in another computer lab. She, too, was experiencing the same with her students. We were advised to have students restart the computers and try again. This isn’t all that quick in a computer lab filled with sixth graders. After administration made a few phone calls, we learned that the problem was STAR itself, so testing was cancelled for that day.

Plan B. Put me in a room of sixth graders and I can find something to teach, review or practice. But by that time, half of the block was over, and so too, was 38 minutes of instructional time. Gone.

My students would have to wait until all testing was completed to gain access to computers. So, today, nine days later, we accessed the Think Pads stored in a cart down the hall. Three of them didn’t work, one was missing some keys, and the wifi was really slow. About half way through the test, four of the computers shut down, and once restarted, two would not connect to the internet. Imagine all of this drama as students are taking a standardized test that will determine their placement, and evaluate my effectiveness as a teacher.

This is what education reform wants. They are willing make sacrifices to fill their files with data. Data that will be used neither to guide instruction nor evaluate curriculum, only to reward and punish. That’s where the sacrifices come in. Sacrifices come in the form of children, and what ed reformers refer to as “human capital”. That would be the teachers. Throwing them all, children and teachers, under the bus so they can gain favor with the corporate leader gods who seek to turn education dollars into profit. In this reform culture, gaining such favor is key to the progression of their own careers.

It’s both a shame and a sham.

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