So, my school system has been out of school for two weeks due to incredible weather patterns…. snow and far below normal temps and ice. We came back today and tomorrow, my state has determined I must still administer their writing assessment. Despite having been with my students a total of 3 days and 1 hour since Christmas.
I was fairly unhappy with the way this writing assessment was set up BEFORE I lost 20 instructional hours/class. NOW… I’m just disgusted. My state has “reformed” our writing assessment. It USED to be one essay on a prompt like “If your school did a time capsule, what three things would you include and why?”. Now…. well, now, my 13-year-olds must read 2 “complex”, “non-fiction” texts and then write 2 “analytical” essays. Not only that, but they are worded like this: “After you have read, determine one central idea from the text and write an essay that both summarizes and analyzes how that central idea is conveyed through particular details. Cite evidence from the text to support your analysis. Follow the conventions of standard written English.” (disclaimer: this is an excerpt from prep materials, NOT the test, itsself, as you know we cannot even peek.) Did I mention these are 13 year olds? Oh, and they aren’t “writing” this essay… they are typing it! My school has 80%+ free/reduced lunch. They don’t have computers at home. Many hardly have food and parents that blink in their direction. And this is how we are teaching them to “succeed”?
This frustrates me on SO many levels… I do have high expectations for my students, but this nearly guarantees failure to many of our students that already dislike or hate school & feel like they don’t have a chance anyway. What good does that do? Besides, what is this assessment’s goals? If the goal really is about writing well & arguing well, why does it have to be so complex? This assessment seems to be more about reading and analyzing than writing. I thought that was what end of year tests were for.
I will be praying for each of my kids as they sit for 2-hours in a computer lab completing this assessment. Not for good scores, although that would be great, but for confidence, for them to know that they are more than what shows up on this computer screen, more than any test score. I will be praying for them to be contributors to their families and communities and churches. I will be praying that they make good choices and always know that they are loved when they make bad ones.
As for teachers & other educators…. Please, please keep an eye on what’s happening in your schools. Don’t let education be a divider…. wealthy vs. poor; smart vs. “dumb”….
My heart is with my kids and I hope/pray this emphasis on testing/data doesn’t break my kids. Learning can be beautiful & glorious….
Let’s choose Great Expectations while avoiding the failure to launch.