Post-PARCC

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We are not actually past PARCC but we have finished the first round. Round two will come at us this spring. The school has not yet finished, but my grade wrapped up PARCC for now. Today was the return to “normalcy.”

We had a rocky landing. Students wanted to continue coloring. They had been allowed to color for hours the week before since no talking was allowed until all students were done with a test section. Coloring had continued after sections’ ends since no academics were planned on test days, the rationale being that we want students at their most rested and alert. Everyone wanted to finish decorating pages they had started or wanted a turn coloring like other, faster test-takers.

While last week was intense, students also had a lot of time off. They came back to bell-to-bell instruction and they did not go into the stockyard chute quietly. They roamed the room. They threw paperwads at the waste basket. They asked for “free” time. They took forever to settle into their seats and begin work. I had to start three sets of disciplinary paperwork, a rarity in my life.

Eduhonesty: I can’t count this in my tally of testing days, but I don’t want to ignore today’s rambunctious behavior either. The day was damaged, a fair amount of instructional time compromised, and I blame today’s loss of learning on the disruption to our routine created by the PARCC test. I’m sure other factors are in play. We are near spring break. It’s a short week. Some students have low grades and have just realized that it’s too late to pull out of any academic nosedive.

But I believe today would have been far calmer and more productive if not for the break in our routine created by this latest bout of standardized testing. Students often end tests like PARCC feeling lost, sad, depressed, angry or simply edgy, the last a result of sitting for hours at a desk, churning out flight-or-fight hormones in response to the threat that test represents. These students are not receptive to learning new material. Like their teachers, I’m pretty sure some of them just want to crawl under the covers and hide. One of my students signed his paper “Lil Davy” today and I looked that “Lil” that he’d stuck in front of his name and hurt for him a bit. I’ve never seen him call himself that before. I’m sure he wants to retreat into the past, a past where tests didn’t attack all the time and sometimes you got to pick up your crayons and coloring book.

I am genuinely sorry that tomorrow I am supposed to give Davy and his classmates another required bubble test for which I know they are not ready. I have to give the test. All the math teachers in my grade are supposed to give an identical test, including the special education teacher. Damn, I hate these tests.