I'm watching my kids take their STAR tests with such an incredibly mixed set of feelings that it's hard to even sort them out of the bag, and I think I'll spend this post actually trying.
(Pause, while I make a kid take his earphones out of his ears. Realize that I don't object to him wearing his earphones personally, but that it's a school policy. Debate with myself how badly I want to enforce that policy. Argue with kid. Sigh.)
I think what I'm going to do is just pull ou the little card out of my psyche with the feeling on it, and just lay it out for you--no actual sorting necessary.
* We do need some sort of basket of things that we, as a society actually decide to teach our kids.
* I don't think the bubble tests cover this even remotely.
* Kids need to believe in order, in some sort of higher purpose, in knowledge as a positive, self-actualizing thing for them to take these tests seriously. Maybe 22% of my students have that sort of belief system. 25% of them will take the tests because they believe our spurious claims of self-benefit, but otherwise, most of them have nursed from well of anarchy for so long that they see no particular reason why they should even try to answer the questions put before them. The reason, "Because I can!!!" Which seems to have been a motivating force for most of their teachers, is not even on the waiting list as a valid purpose for them. I have a hard time combating this attitude. I don't even know where to start.
* The bubble tests have way too much reading, and way too many dumb-ass questions about stuff that doesn't even connect to the purpose of why we USUALLY read for the kids to feel good about taking them. I'd fail these fucking tests--and I kicked ass on the ones I took in school.
* If a kid has a .05 total G.P.A. He's not gonna give a flying pig's winkie about how he does on a goddamned test. I can't believe our totally fucked up government wants my pay dependent on what these little bastards do or do not deem important. My house is overflowing with books, literature, math, computers...it's practically bursting out the windows. I know there are at least five of these little fuckers who cheerfully vandalize my books any chance they get because they respect the books and me, as a representative of the learning institution so very little that they think it's their duty.
* The kids who have learning disabilities and are working their ass off are breaking my heart and making me want a fucking bull-whip and a cattle-prod for the kids who aren't working at all.
* I got into this gig because I love to read and I think stories are the heartbeat of life. I don't see how this test can measure that.
* If that one kid doesn't stop flirting with the poor girl who OD'd in my class a couple of weeks ago, I"m going to stomp on his heart and feed it to goats.
* Oh, shit--another one just dropped off to sleep--and I gave them water, and I can tell a bunch of them now have to pee like a freaking racehorse.
* Do you think the Governator could pass this damned test? I'm betting not. I"m betting he really couldn't in my 6th period class, where the little fuckers are going to be staging a rebellion that makes the crowd in Running Man look like a bunch of white-bread weenie Kindergartners.
* It's a bloody good thing I can type without looking at my keyboard that much, or they'd be switching their fucking booklets--yes--I just stopped to catch a couple of kids doing that. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? I don't get it. They're starting to remind me of a Stephen King short story that scared the piss out of me in college and is scaring me more every day that passes. It's about how kids have this sort of evil underbody that floats among them and it drives this one teacher totally mad.
* *sigh* I got snacks for these guys--it at least keeps them quiet out of loyalty. I'm almost out of snacks-- I"m going to have to buy more. And water bottles--that's only humane.
* This whole process is not serving our students. Not that I've been a stellar educator this year, but I know I've put enough in their baskets for them to feel as though they can answer these questions. The problem is, they don't care if they can answer the questions. They want to know what's in it for them. AT this point, the only answer iI can give them is 'snacks and water', and it's not cutting it.
I'm starting to repeat myself--time to sign off. Tune in next time as I debate why belly-buttons are really necessary to the whole look of summer clothes and teenaged girls--and then decide that I don't really give a ripe shit!!!