We lost the whole day even though we only tested for the last half the day. That loss had been expected. Some teachers did run the regular morning schedule, but most of them conducted a light morning. Colleagues asked me if I had any movies to share. The rationale for the light morning was simple: We wanted students to be rested and in a good mood when testing time arrived. My guys watched semi-educational YouTube videos with subtitles in English and Spanish. The stress level was high, but not stratospheric, at least until I misplaced the tickets with the student names and passwords (they had fallen behind the drawer where I had placed them) and I started to tear up my room. After a few minutes of crazy, though, I went back to basics. The tickets went into the pink drawer. Therefore the tickets must be in or near that drawer. I looked behind the drawer. Then it remained to use every relaxation technique known to humankind (or me, anyway) to climb down from my personal cliff, especially after two students found they could not log in. I plunged into the hallway in search of a roving rescuer and found two of them. More or less on time, we limped out of the gate.
I’d say my kids were not unduly stressed. They weren’t working very hard, but that lack of effort was understandable. One girl could not even begin to interpret a question on the test. I read the question to myself, but I couldn’t help. I’m not allowed to provide any help. I patted her shoulder. “Do your best,” I said, resuming my circles around the room. Her best was a couple of incoherent lines. A fair number of “essays” written as I walked around ended around the second or third sentence. Some addressed the topic. We’re not going to win this one. The whole class was done at least one half hour early. Some were done nearly an hour early on a test that only runs a little over an hour. The literary analysis in my students’ answers might best be termed “pithy.” Other adjectives that come to mind include inchoate, unfinished and avant-garde. Some essays were stronger than others. Some students efforted, correcting and rewriting as they went. Others used a stream-of-unconsciousness approach that should give the test’s graders a few desperate laughs anyway.
Eduhonesty: The truth is that I’m more fried than the kids. They seemed perfectly peaceful as they left, pieces of candy in hand. I just want to hide under the covers, which is honestly silly. Nothing went wrong. But the stress comes naturally enough. Administrators haunted the hallway during the test, making sure rule infractions were not occurring. After the test, administrators counted my scrap paper, page by page, all signed by students on top. They counted the empty sheets of unused scrap paper. Everything used in the test was inventoried before I signed off on the bin I will pick up again tomorrow morning. This procedure is normal enough for standardized testing and I am not complaining. I think the tension comes from the newness and uncertainty associated with this computerized test, as well as from my sense that student answers were often seriously lacking. I had too many students who were done too quickly.
A slow reader who finishes a literary analysis test in less than 15 minutes has not done anything even close to a mediocre job.