Saturday, April 14, 2012

r u smarter than a 6th grader?

So I was sitting in a sixth grade classroom waiting for our staff meeting to begin.  Looking around the room, taking in the environment, I was trippin’ on how different the kindergarten room environment is from where the big kids are.  The words, Final Push, written on the whiteboard caught my eye. Uh oh, I thought.  I’ve heard that term before and since we’d just began the fourth quarter I knew it wasn’t referring to the end of the year.  Nope.  It was referring to the stupid totally fucked waste of time waste of money brain killing ulcer inducing upcoming high-stakes, standardized State test.

“Crap,” I thought.  Oh yeah, now I’m making a connection!  Grades two through six have been gearing up for these tests with their Final Push test prep extravaganza.  Yep.  Six weeks of mind numbing, stomach wrenching, enormously boring, enthusiasm sucking, test preparation.  Six whole weeks stressing kids out while denying them access to a real education where their natural curiosity and ability to think critically has been sorely eliminated – along with social studies, science, music, art, recess, etc.

I looked at the terminology on the board and thought, wow!  Just. Wow!!!  I also thought, Are You Fucking Kidding Me really???  Srsly!  I'll bet if I asked any non-sixth grade teacher in the room, including our principal, no one, I mean NO one, could define all of those terms.  I’d be willing to bet NO one at the district office could define those terms.  Our local school board couldn’t.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, Geoffrey Canada, Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and even Oprah couldn’t define those terms.  Yet our SIXTH GRADERS are supposed to be able to know these terms and apply that knowledge on the State test? Why?  I mean, seriously, why?  Who came up with the ludicrous idea that this was grade level appropriate material, let alone relevant to sixth graders?

All I can say is, “Shit is fucked up!”  Totally.  This year has been the most frustrating in my entire career.  I am sick of District and State generated test data.  I’m sick of test prep.  I’m sick of testing.  Yes, even kindergarten teachers are now testing our children into oblivion. (More about that in an upcoming post.)  I’m disgusted by the reward parties for children who have made the grade, so to speak.  I weep for all those kids who NEVER get to attend any of the special events because they couldn’t make the grade no matter how hard they tried.  My stomach clenches when I think about walking into the multipurpose room at the beginning of the next school year.  Will I see the NAMES and SCORES of the kids who scored Proficient or Advanced on the State test posted on the walls for all to see, AGAIN? Will we spend $6,000 on Accelerated Reader when we spend $0 on new books for our library?

The only good thing about having furlough days for the third year in a row is that it means that I have five fewer days to put up with this shit.  Class sizes continue to rise.  Testing continues to increase.  More mandates that do nothing to help kids learn proliferate. Really, people, I can’t possibly take any more meds than I am currently taking.

So, dear readers, please take the test below and see if you’re smarter than a sixth grader.  If you’re not, and you are a parent with a school-aged child, please opt your child out of high-stakes testing.  If you don’t have kids, tell all parents you know that they can opt their child out of high-stakes testing.  Check out for more information.
All I can say again is “Shit is really fucked up.” And not in a good way!

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