Friday, April 15, 2011

The Very Big Deal Government Mandated Testing is Over!


I am almost at a loss for words.

We are finally - finally! - finished with the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Testing.  That is the good news.

The bad news is that we have witnessed the worst - the absolute freaking worst- behavior that any of us have seen in all our years of giving TVBDGMT.    It has been an adventure.  (Or as one of my teammates said, "I feel like I'm on the roller coaster to Hell.")

We used to have a more flexible testing schedule where each building could more or less decide how they wanted to scheduled TVBDGMT within a certain time frame.  Those days are apparently long gone as now we have to give the tests on specific days.  Four specific days to be, well, specific.  Which means that we have for the past four days spent the mornings giving tests to a bunch of kids who don't really care (they have no stake in them this year although next year it will count towards a spring semester grade), and who, quite honestly, aren't used to being well-behaved and quiet for three hours straight.

I'll give them credit.  They were good during the test.  Although some of mine, truth be told, were just fed up with practicing good test taking skills.  Instead of highlighting, underlining, crossing out, checking their work, and all that, they simply bubbled in answers and put their heads down.  The were D.O.N.E.

What this means is that as soon as the tests were done and they were released to first period, all hell broke lose.  

It started right after first period when one of my girls (who is suddenly boy crazy beyond belief) got dared by two boys to pull a fire alarm.  Which she did.  She swears her t-shirt sleeve got caught on the alarm but the cameras said otherwise.  I doubt I'll see her again.

Then we tried to take them outside for an hour or so to run off steam which worked for some kids but for the others it was a complete disaster.  They spent that hour arguing, getting into each other's businesses, running their mouths and generally gearing up for some fights.  The only thing that kept them quiet in my room was because I ran a Brainpop so the room was dark, and cool (they were all whining about being hot after being outside) and they calmed down.

But not enough to stop the fights that broke on the way home.

And today wasn't much better.  It was raining and thundering all morning (I had visions of a tornado warning right in the middle of the test) so taking them outside wasn't an option.  Mrs. Eagle and I were going to do a really fun mini-lab on states of matter but quickly tossed that idea out the window as the first hallway fights began.  Three of my girls got into a tussle and all three have now been suspended for ten days and one has a heck of a shiner for her trouble.  Again, if they weren't running their mouths and into drama, I doubt any of this would have happened.

And that was just the seventh grade.  I heard that the sixth and eighth weren't much better.

So today, instead of having a fun lab, I had them open their workbooks, work on a section we didn't use this year, put on some lovely classical music and told them they were all going to be quiet, to mind their own business, and CALM DOWN.    I think they were read the riot act by just about every teacher (as well as The Principal over the loud speaker this morning after testing was finished), and we pretty much said if they didn't get it together the last five weeks weren't going to be much fun.

For any of us.

But as annoyed as I am at the kids and their horrid behavior, I'm more annoyed at the People Who Make Decisions But Who Have No Idea What Goes On In A Classroom.  You spend all week with a bunch of middle schoolers, with hormones raging, and put a high-stress, high-stakes test on them and force them to be QUIET, and then watch what happens.



Unknown said...

Wow. We finished up yesterday in elementary school--way easier than middle school, for sure! Evidently you are not alone. My cousin teaches seventh grade here, and they've had the same post-test behavior that you describe. His wildest tale is a girl fight in which one tore another's weave out. The weave was sent home in a Cheez-its box! Craziness. Good luck for the next five weeks to all of us, because even the strugglers are smart enough to know we are finished!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I left school Friday afternoon completely exhausted by four days of state testing. It's enough to make me want to quit.

HappyChyck said...

Same business here. The other half of the day was a nightmare. In our district, the secondary schools have a 1/2 day schedule during finals, where students take two exams (80-90 periods) each day for three days and then go home. I suppose the extra time is for teachers. I would like to advocate that we get rid of those days and use those half days for state mandated testing. Send them HOME to be wild the rest of the day!

BTW, my daughter's middle school didn't even pretend to try to teach them anything after the tests each day. Students watched movies and played games the rest of the day. I think that kind of unstructured activity would be worse than trying continue learning. At my school, we keep the learning going but we structure our classes with less-stressful, hands-on, and collaborative activities.