You may or may not remember that my APT (alternate plan thesis, as I lovingly call it) was a condemnation of the Bush Administration's communication of the "results" of the education plan he rhetorically dubbed No Child Left Behind back in 2001 before he ruined our country. One of the main themes of this "law" (okay, so it IS a real law, but it's such a joke, the quotation marks are valid) is testing. Testing in all grade levels except K and 12. Testing four subject areas only (reading, writing, math, and new this year, science) in a standardized test by state. A fabulous way to assess our schools and teachers, right? (If you can't read the sarcasm, read this: NO it is NOT a fabulous or even great or good way to assess anything but a student's ability to take standardized tests.)
I sit here before a room of twenty-four juniors who are slaving away on their yearly "exam" as I type. Math, for the 11th-graders. In other rooms, reading for 10th and writing for 9th. It is not a timed test; it includes more than just multiple choice. But I watch some of these kids sigh and hem and haw and look around the room thinking, "Is this really this hard? Or am I just stupid?" We try to help them understand how important this test is not only to them, but to our school as well. This, so they will try their very hardest. But the pressure certainly can't help: "Not only do you need to pass this in order to graduate, but our school needs you to do well so we don't lose funding and/or control of our school." No worries, kiddo.
I try to be as positive as possible when I proctor, expressing none of the angst I share with you now. I smile and assure them they can have all the time they need and to PLEASE review your answers. I supply pencils and kleenex and neon orange stickers to seal each portion of the test as they finish it and an escort to the restroom (to ensure test security, of course). But I want to supply them with love and pats on the back and messages that say, "I know you're an artist and that talent will lead you later in life, but right now your ability to divide mixed fractions is what matters. You are important in all of your skills. Be strong and diligent in these menial tasks now, then you can be whomever you want to be later and people will still care!"
It makes me sad. Is there another way to say it?