Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Post Test Malaise

It really is a product of "teaching to the test".  Especially when the tests are administered with over a month left in the school year. 

Now that STAR and Advanced Placement testing is finished, I'm finding a change in attitude not only with the students, but with myself.  Don't get all in a tizzy.  I'm not talking about completely shutting down the remainder of the semester and plugging in reruns of the West Wing.  God knows that besides being a good employee, it goes against everything I stand for to waste student time in class.  However, the attitude I have towards what is "necessary" for students to know is so less pressured that it almost comes as a disappointment to not have that pressure.  Sure, we have standards that need to be met, but all that pump up for the STAR is now a bunch of useless garbage as students are now depending on me showing them something that is relevant to them in the last month of their Junior career.  Actually, plenty is relevant, but you tell that to STAR tested kids that feel like they have already met the requirements just because they took the damn test.

Advanced Placement is a little different.  With the AP's finished, I show "Inside 9/11" for about a week because most of my students are taking multiple AP tests and miss my class (legitimately).  It does no good to introduce new curriculum when students are in and out of class, plus we are getting into a generation of students that haven't seen 9/11, either live or on serious video.  I'm not kidding.   It's quite interesting to remember that this generation was in 4th or 5th grade when it happened.  I'll introduce a Mock Congress after the class final at the end of this week.  It's interactive, fun, and teaches the students about the workings of congressional debate.  They are actually looking to remain engaged, because by this point the realization that the real world is just out the door has now hit them, and they sort of like the idea of the protective environment of high school.

I guess the malaise is more me than anything.  When I taught Economics, students would have the Economics Exposition on the second to last day of instruction, a massive business plan that made students focus until the end of the year.  Being the first year that I've had to deal with idiotic STAR testing, the priorities have changed.  STAR tests were so "important" that everything else seems to take a back seat, and I'd like to thank those idiot politicians for continuing to make life as difficult as possible on educators.

So the usual sprint to the end of the year has become more a ....well....drag.   Testing at the end of the year anyone?

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