Sunday, March 16, 2008

testing, testing, testing

At my weekly book-club with former students the third graders began expressing their worries about their first round of SOL testing. (For those of you not in VA I'm actually not cursing... that is what our tests are called. The Standards of Learning. For your added amusement my county's standards are referred to as the POS ~ Program of Studies)

I was asking the girls if they were excited about spring break and the upcoming intersession. One shook her head vigorously. No way! I'm too nervous about SOLs.

But the tests are not 'til May! I exclaimed. You have lots of time to get ready once you come back. You need to relax and enjoy spring break!

What if I forget everything I've learned? I HAVE to pass the SOLs! she argued.

This is not a child with high anxiety. This is a child who required frequent reminders about 'our jobs in school' and 'who is the teacher?' when she was in first grade with me. A smart but relaxed little girl, she was the last person I expected to express stress over the tests coming up in over a month. The child sitting next to her, one who has high testing anxiety, couldn't even speak. She just nodded her head in agreement, her wide eyes saying it all.

It was the Friday before spring break. The teachers were counting down the hours. We were planning our vacations, chatting about outdoor activities we could soon partake in, and excitedly preparing for intersession. And the third grade students, who have been taught the importance of bubbling with the perfect pressure inside one circle, only bubbling one circle per letter, how to read test questions, how to track their answers on their answer sheet, and how to properly go-back and re-read the test passages when answering the questions, are filled with anxiety they will forget all of these skills while having 3 weeks away from the practice.

I'm glad I'm not a third grader.


thepowerguides said...

You do have to laugh at those that come up with these acronyms that is one of the best so far

thanks for the laugh

Tim said...

Even worse, the 3rd grade is actually the first year they have to take the "real" SOL tests. I wonder how many years of standardized testing it take to completely wring all joy of learning out of them.

Another unintended - and very sad - consequence of NCLB.