Memes created by Kelly Ann Lough Braun
As I sit in my bed I'm entering data from the newest test, 64 questions per student. A test that asks my DEAF STUDENTS what sounds they hear and how many syllables they can listen for... That seems fair. I should be sleeping. So sick of this bureaucratic bullcrap. I am not your puppet! B.M. Ohio
Four years ago, when tablets were still a relatively new development, the Utah state writing prompt for 8th graders was to persuade a school board for or against using tablets instead of textbooks. The term "tablet" wasn't defined, and many of my students in my poorer school didn't know what a tablet was. Some of them were in tears because they didn't know what to write G.E. Utah
As an ESL teacher, I had to give the (Oregon) English proficiency standardized test to everyone who was eligible for ESL services. Everyone. Including: Kids with severe autism--"Here, just talk into the mic!"; brand-new newcomers who'd only been here a few months--we already knew they didn't speak English!!; kids whose families had opted them out of ESL class and who'd never met me before I came to test them, or at least before I introduced myself and talked about testing beforehand; kindergarteners who needed hours of mouse skills practice before they could take the computerized tests. Everyone. For some reason the moment that upset me the most was when a stressed-out kindergartener, told that she had to say *something* on a speaking question before it would let her go on to the next question, agonized for 15 minutes and then whimpered, "hard," into her microphone and hit "submit." T.L. Oregon
I had a student whose parents were asked to pull him out of the hospital to come take an AP Exam - this, after what put him in the hospital in the first place was preparing for seven exams that year. He brought his IV drip into the exam, completed it, and was promptly returned to the hospital. I.G. Virginia
At my high school in CA, the library had to be closed to everyone for SIX WEEKS so the testing could take place on the library's computers. Most students (juniors) knew that these tests would not count for anything, so most of them started each day, then provided random responses till they were "finished" so they could study for REAL tests for their coursework. Such a waste of time, resources, money for absolutely no gain. T.S. California
I teach 8th grade science, which is the year that middle school students take the science MSP (state test). I had a student last year who struggled with writing, but was very quick to learn the material. In fact, we built Rube Goldberg machines in class and his group's was by far the best out of all of my classes. When test day came, I saw him struggle and then finally just look at me and close his book. He was in tears, which made me break down and cry. The look on his face was, "I'm a failure." How many times can he be told he is a failure because of a test score before he starts to believe it? This kid had skills that can't be measured on a standardized state test, but he may never be able to share them with the world because at some point, probably very soon, he is going to just give up in frustration after being labeled a failure for so long. It absolutely broke my heart and I made sure to remind him that the tests do not define him. I don't think he believed me, though K.F. Washington State
I had a student who was a fine reader, but suffered from a pathological level of year anxiety.
She was a high school junior in Florida who had not yet passed the tenth grade high stakes reading test. This was a child I never saw without a book to read in her bag.
She again failed the retake of the reading test at the start of her junior year. The anxiety this caused her was so intense she ended up in the hospital on a 72 hour psych hold. J.E. Florida
Fourth graders in Washington have taken a writing test for several years. During the first day of the writing section of the WASL I had a child with her head down, sobbing. When she was able to talk she told me why she was in tears. The writing prompt was, "Tell us what you like and dislike about your community." The child's response was heartbreaking. "I hate our neighborhood!" When I asked her why she quietly replied, "I think my uncle was involved in that shooting." The week before the test was given we arrived at school with a police helicopter hovering over the building and 100 officers in SWAT gear roaming the neighborhood looking for the suspects who had killed a local police officer. The WASL is no longer given in Washington, but the toxic testing has a 'history' that goes back quite a ways. K.B. Washington State
Our students take the NWEA test, which is also the only test that 50% of our teacher evaluations are based on. In order to entice our students into putting forth more effort, our principal came up with the idea that students, K-6 who "showed growth" on their tests were to have a fun day as a reward - complete with games, hot dogs, ice cream, a bouncy house, etc. Most of our special needs kids did not show growth, but many of our higher level kids did not as well. Can you imagine how hard it was to explain to a special needs student, a kindergartner, or straight A student why other kids got to go outside and have fun all day while they sat in the classroom and worked? We teachers were in tears. J.S. Washington State
In about 2009, my 3rd grade students were expected to plan, write, and edit an expository writing piece with a wildly inappropriate target score for the Florida FCAT in 45 minutes. The entire school atmosphere was oppressive and frightening despite the "rally" and the special FCAT pencils (!) and students had been convinced that passing the test was the only way to reach 4th grade (not strictly true, but there seemed no way to get kids or parents to understand). My school was Title I with 85% free or reduced lunch and 50% plus English Language Learners who had completed their 2 years (yes, 2 WHOLE years!) of exemption because of all the "services" they had received. I personally got a refugee from a failed charter school two months earlier and a little boy who walked from Mexico to Texas one month earlier, had no English and needed dental work desperately . On the day of the test I was expected to say goodbye to half of my class as they headed to unknown locations to be tested by unknown staff members and receive a number of students I had no relationship with who had the same lost and sadly guarded look as my kids (these guys are 8 years old). The pressure ratcheted up as pencils were distributed (think about SAT atmosphere), directions read in eerie silence, and finally the TIMER set. Within the first 5 minutes a little girl threw up (I mean, really gushed) all over her test, desk, floor, and clothing. Although there are clear guidelines for when a test has been "interrupted" and qualifies to be nullified and retaken, MY students were expected to "work" as the poor little girl and her test were removed and the area cleaned up. The smell was horrific and the children were clearly traumatized by this new level of nightmare unfolding as we were told to keep working (I was so angry I could barely speak). How much time do you suppose was left of the 45 minutes for the children to plan and write a well-planned, well-supported, inventive, and edited expository position? The scores from that testing session did indeed determine my "effectiveness" as a teacher that year, while discounting almost everything we had accomplished together for months as writers and learners. Of course, that's just one story K.C. Florida
I gave a STAAR M last year in Reading. The directions required me to read a paragraph introducing the reading passage. I was also permitted to answer questions on that paragraph. Two things happened that day: The first was one student went through and finished the entire test before I could finish answering the questions about the paragraph. I'm sure everybody can figure out how well Mal did. The second thing that happened broke my heart. Another student took the opposite approach. This poor baby couldn't read word one on his part. This poor baby tried and tried to sound words out , but he just couldn't. I felt horrible for poor Danny. How cruel can we possibly be to children? These guys were both 7th graders. M.R. Texas
In New York a group of fourth graders sat for the first of 8 NYS testing days (3 ELA, 3 math, 2 science). On that first ELA day there were 30 multiple choice questions and a 70 minute time limit. It took me, with three degrees in education, 42 minutes just to read the passages, questions and answer choices. Let that sink in. There was so much material that I took over half of the allotted time just to read the booklet! Assume that I read more fluently and with more comprehension skills than 9 and 10 year old kids, please. Over half of the students completed 15 questions or LESS. They automatically failed the assessment. No matter how well they did on day 2 and 3, they could never recover from losing all those points on day 1. L.W. New York
My story: I had a lovely Japanese girl, still learning Engliish, move from Tokyo to our middle school in the spring of her 8th grade year. 8th graders take 5 SOL tests in May. As an Eng. Lang. Learner, she was allowed some accommodations and a few exemptions, but she still had to take the long, wordy math test and the long, wordy science test. She knew how to study. She pushed herself hard through released test after released test to prepare. She actually passed the math, but not the science. I think she was disgusted with our system. We alienated a great student, and I felt like an accessory to the crime. E.W. West Virginia
I had a student who was known throughout the school as a kid who bolted out of the class at the first feeling of frustration. He spent at least 2 hours of every day wandering the halls and playing hide and seek with the security guard and NTA. I worked with him and his therapist all year to get him to stay in the room and deal with the day. He did not run out once between September and April. We agreed to have him answer 4-5 questions and then give him the opportunity to play educational games on the computer. We gradually increased the time on task to the point where he could signal me when he was getting frustrated and could go to the reading corner to get himself together, Then came testing. All the gains I had made with him throughout the year went out the window. He cursed, slammed him desk, swept the test off his desk and ran out of the room. He scribbled all over the book, wrote "I don't know" on open-ended questions without reading them. He stormed out of the room and ran around the building. No getting him back after that A.T. Pennsylvania
Last year my son was in fourth grade. I started noticing that he was experiencing headaches, dizziness and blurred vision at the beginning of Spring. We took him to get a bunch of serious medical tests including blood work, a very thorough eye exam, and an MRI. He was so terrified of the MRI .I watched his little body shake in fear and I felt so helpless. I held his hand the whole time. They told us he was not still enough and they couldn't get a good enough image. They suggested we take him somewhere else and have him drugged to sedate him to get a better image. No way! It wasn't until after "testing season" was over and his symptoms miraculously stopped that we realized they were a direct result of the endless practice tests and high-stakes testing. It is because of this that I opted him out of all PARCC tests, OAAs, and practice tests this year. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my family. M.D. Ohio
My 7th grade son is in all Honor's classes. He has high anxiety, especially about tests. He takes forever because he's a perfectionist and over thinks everything. (He about had a panic attack in 5th grade over a PRACTICE test!) Every year, he is quite aware that the one test in the spring could influence his whole future. He refuses to do anything extra (read or write) that doesn't get him a grade. When he's stressed out he gets strange nervous tics and talks about hating school (I had him talk to the counselor several times last year.). This year we are REFUSING the PARCC test in Ohio! I told him to stop worrying about grades, do his best, stick up for the little guy and fight against injustice! He said,"I think you're the only mom at my school saying that." Not stressing out about the test has made him a much happier child! L.D. Ohio
I am a 1st Grade Teacher in Hawaii. Our school has been in "Restructuring" for the past 5 years.. Kindergarten thru 12th were required to give quarterly assessment in Math and Language Arts.
These tests included 30 test questions with a #2 pencil for a fill -in bubble format!
It took over an hour to administer my 5 year olds. We were all in tears! I complained to the Administration and was told to administer the test next time in two sessions! They never got it that at best a five year old my have a 6 to 7 minute attention span. What we were doing, I consider it to be child abuse! R.F. Hawaii
My school is being closed down because of low test scores against the wishes of the staff, students, families and community. Our students are more than a test score, but that's all that counts anymore E.H. New York
I had a 7th student who was ELL and he was expected to write a five paragraph essay! He had been in the United States for about four months! He took one look at the prompt and quietly shut the page A.B. California
I'm a 6th grade teacher in Ohio. Last year we had a student who threw up in the middle of the test. (She had the stomach flu.) She had to finish, though, because to stop would've invalidated her test with no option to make it up. H.M. Ohio
I am a second grade teacher assistant in Tennessee. For state testing, our second graders answer in their test booklet, not a separate answer sheet. One child threw up on their booklet, and another assistant had to clean the booklet before it was returned to the processing center. That year, we also had three students fall asleep at the same time during the read-aloud. The stress is too great for these little ones, and I'm sure that the students who fell asleep had lower scores for that portion of the test. And the student gets a score from 4 days out of 180 and the teacher gets her evaluation score from these small moments in time. It's unbelievable what education has become. C.M. Tennessee
I vividly remember the day I found my 7th grader, who consistently tested in the 95th percentile or higher in all areas, hyperventilating and nauseated over state testing. When I reminded her how well she usually did on them she said, "But if I don't do a good enough job Mrs. Smith* is going to lose her job!" and promptly burst into tears.
After my initial shock and some clarifying questions, she revealed that her class had been told that the money to pay teachers was dependent on her test score and how many tests they took each year.
No 12 year old should shoulder the weight of a teacher keeping their job, for good or bad. It's time to stop toxic testing in Ohio and teacher pay tied to test scores.
*name has been changed J.N. Ohio
I just finished giving Scantron tests this week. I have two kids who are NEP (non english proficient). The last day of testing, one of them came to me and said "I take test?" I told him no, that he doesn't have to. He pointed around at all the kids testing and said "I try." Kid can barely read English......but he wanted to do what everyone else was doing. I can think of about a million better choices for that. C.S. Michigan
The story that breaks my heart the most involves my own son. He had been an avid writer since he learned how to manage a pencil. Grocery lists, comic strips, stories, thoughtful pieces about current events--nothing held him back and his "voice" was powerful. But then, in third grade, they began grading my mildly dyslexic, sensitive son on writing conventions rather than content. He began to fail at something he loved and believed, until then, he was good at. He learned to write short simple sentences that would please his teacher. It makes my heart bleed that the pressure on schools to achieve forces teachers to go against what they know works and ultimately destroyed my son's passion and belief in himself as a writer. D.S. Texas
Four years ago, my heart broke watching a 4th grade student with learning disabilities, language impairment, and behavior problems, sit for hours to do her math FCAT and really TRY! She WAS doing all her learned strategies--underlining, writing the math problem down and doing the MATH correctly!!!! She had learned this school year!!! As I read her the questions aloud, one of her accommodations, I had to turn my chair away, so she couldn't see my face.She could not apply what she had learned to the higher order questions that finished those questions!!! I was trying NOT TO CRY as she chose the wrong answer question after question after doing the MATH CORRECTLY!!! C.P. Florida
Some school districts in FL, kids couldn't access their tests and had to sit there, some for over an hour while they tried to get on-line until they decided to send kids to class and try again next day. This went on for several days. Some kids started testing in places and where knocked off the test and had to start over next day. G.P. Florida
I want to tell you about a positive testing experience with a wonderful 7th grader. This story will warm the cockles of your hearts. This young man had severe dyslexia, and his reading was at the first-grade level. Therefore, I could read the tests to him, which went fine. Except, of course, the reading portion of the assessment. I gave him the test, he opened it. I explained that since it was a reading test I couldn't read it to him. He looked at me, and sighed. He knew the drill from previous tests. "Do you want me to fill in some bubbles, or can I just hand it back to you?" I told him I couldn't help him with the answers. So he very neatly drew an "X" over the whole page, and put it in his test booklet. "So, Mr. D, what do you want to talk about?" We wiled away an hour telling stupid jokes R.D. Georgia
My then second grader asked me to ask her teacher if she could be retained in second grade because she was afraid to go to third grade. Why? The end all and be all FCAT reading test. D.M. Florida
My son, third grade last year, was so excited to go to third grade after we found out he was having the same teacher his older brother had. Then, on the first day of school, he curled up on the couch as we were leaving and started crying. Why? Because "I don't want to take FCAT." This is a child who has NEVER struggled in school!!! I told him then and there that mom would take care of it and he didn't have to worry about FCAT any more. We were the 1st and only family to refuse the test in our school district. C.P. Florida
Last year my husband received a call from our daughter's 3rd grade teacher. She was administering a pilot math test called Creative Response Assessment. Our daughter, who won math award in 2nd grade, completed part of the test but started crying unable to understand what was being asked in the open response section. By the end of the test, she and 3 of her classmates left the room crying while another left vomiting. Thank goodness our child had a teacher who chose to call and who loved on our 8 year old the rest of the day! A.W. Tennessee
Last year, on the first day of third grade, one of my students was upset that she would not pass the test that was to be given in April. Also, younger students lose art, and music classes if they are scheduled in the morning, as 'specials" teachers are proctoring tests. (Teachers also lose planning time). Students are not allowed outside for recess until the "all clear', which is a long time as many students have unlimited time. P.H. Florida
My daughter spent 3rd grade (5 years ago) anxious and terrified from August through April, fearing she would "fail the ISAT" and not get promoted to 4th grade. Nothing I could say would convince her she was prepared, not even showing her previous test scores. After the first day of the test she was *indignant*: "That was EASY! Why did they make such a big deal out of it?" At least my son didn't have go through that; his big sister weathered the storm for him. A.L. Illinois
One of the worst things about standardized testing is when administrators try to make decisions based solely on "data." This year, they placed a student in the lower academic track Language Arts class based on a low score from 3 days of standardized testing. They ignored 180 days of excellence in the classroom. They valued a snapshot more than a fully realized picture of the student and a recommendation from a valued professional. Thankfully, they reversed the decision after pressure from the parent, but this is a far too common occurrence. Read about it here http://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/tracking-testing-and-the-myth-of-meritocracy/ S.S. Pennsylvania
A few years ago, I proctored a paper version of the WorkKeys test, which is given to Juniors in Alaska. My group was in alphabetical order. Because I knew only a few of them, check in procedures and identity verification took a significant amount of time. During the test, I saw two students fill in all the ovals in a section without reading any of the questions. They then put their heads down and napped for the duration. The building administrator had budgeted too little time for check in and directions and when the bell rang for fourth hour, non-testing kids kept trying to enter the classrooms. They were unsupervised in the hallways and made a lot of noise which made it difficult for those students who were taking the test seriously because there's trade school scholarship money potentially available. Last year, we were ordered to go to computerized testing. Our computer labs -- including our school library -- were tied up for a week. Teachers who have computer banks in their classrooms because they teach subjects that require computer use were kicked out of their classrooms and required to teach multiple classes in a shared space. Those of us who teach juniors were required to repeat lessons multiple times because 1/3-1/2 of our students were absent due to testing. And then an Internet service overload meant that we had to do it all again for two testing groups the following week. What an incredible waste of time and resources. M.H. Alaska
Two years ago, during the Alaska Standards Based Assessment (SBA) and the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE -- to be replaced this year with an SAT, ACT, or WorkKeys test), we had an outbreak of norovirus. Kids were projectile vomiting in classrooms. Non-vomiting students were forced to remain in proximity with vomiting students. By week's end, 40 percent of the students were out absent and 20 percent of the staff were ill, including the Freshman house teacher who had been given the task of test coordinator and who was ordered to don scrubs, gloves, and a mask and transcribe student answers from contaminated vomit-spewn tests to clean test booklets, all under the watchful eye of an observer. The smart thing to do would be to close the building, decontaminate as many surfaces as possible, and stop the infection cycle. Instead, the building could not be closed because we were in the testing window and students who were ill and probably contagious were encouraged to return one makeup testing days so that they would have a score. M.H. Alaska
One summer in a course I taught for students who had not passed the GA state graduation test, I had a boy come to me after the first class to let me know that his learning disability caused his writing to be incomprehensible and that he would have to read it aloud to me so I could understand it. He assured me that he could express his ideas well but that it was just his spelling that was causing him to fail and not be able to graduate. I'm not a special education teacher but it was clear that he had a serious problem with his written language output. When he read his work aloud to me, it was full of advanced vocabulary and sophisticated ideas that were clearly expressed. But even though he had an accommodation to type and use spellcheck, the spelling of many of his words was so far off what he meant that spellcheck was useless.
Because it was just a short summer session designed to give the students basic information and test-strategies to help them try to pass a retest at the end of the course, I suggested he stop using his advanced vocabulary and memorize as many simple words as he could and that he simplify all of his writing. He didn't pass that summer but I heard he finally did after a few more tries, and that he did it by following my advice to consciously dumb down his ability to express himself.
I always thought that situation was a travesty. He was such a bright kid but he had been made so anxious about his inability to pass this test that he desperately wanted me to know he was not "stupid" the first time I met him, and he had to struggle to find ways to express himself below what he was actually capable of in order to pass a test graded by strangers.
My neighbor's son is bright, impulsive, and spunky. I've known him since he was born. On his second grade MAP test last year, he clicked random answers to get through it -- and finished it about 3 times faster than his classmates. All his teacher was permitted to do was ask, "Are you sure you're finished?" and he said he was. His parents were called in for a meeting because his score was the lowest in the class, which certainly did not reflect his ability or intelligence. Who knows what opportunities will be denied him because that score is part of his "data"? M.M. Ohio
I had a student who was hospitalized after threatening suicide. He had to take 'the test' in the psych ward while he was recovering. He was 9 years old. A.P. Kansas
As I continually walked my classroom filled with students taking the KPREP, I noticed one student pulling their hair out. One strand at a time. This was a 7th grader, pulling their hair out! By the time testing was finally over, this student had a 2 inch long, 1/2 wide bald spot on their head! There is not enough time or red wine to erase that memory.What are we doing to our students?!?! B.L. Kentucky
I taught 9-12ESOL in an exurban Atlanta public school. In my district, all new students are screened for language proficiency, and if they don't make a specific score, they are retained at a language school which is part of the district. Dependent upon funding and the current sitting county superintendent-- my district, due to mismanagement, collusion, and theft has had five or six since 2000-- students identified as needing international school services had six weeks or fewer of English instruction. One day, the beginning of Graduation Testing week, I received a NEW 11th grader who had left the international school the previous Friday. She knew so little English that another student had to TRANSLATE that everyone was going to be taking an important test on Monday-Thursday of that week. The student burst into tears. Through her student translator she said she was humiliated. In her country she had been an excellent student and her parents were proud of her. Explain to me what purpose a test written in English serves, except that my students didn't know English, which the state of Georgia already knew; otherwise, they would not be in my class receiving state-mandated ESOL services? This is ONE example that I could give you of how detrimental incessant testing is, especially to special populations: I have had students drop out because they couldn't pass the tests! How can our society survive if our kids don't stand a chance of getting a high school diploma? -- And the more tests the kids failed, the more time was devoted to the re-administration of those tests. Two years ago, I took the county testing calendar and counted the number of days we were allotting to testing kids who don't know English ...I had exactly 57 out if 182 instruction days! So, not only was it impossible to teach my kids because all we were doing was testing them, some rocket scientist then decided that teacher evaluations had to be aligned to testing? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? In what alternate universe is any of this even remotely related to teaching and learning? And why have we allowed bean counters, computer technologists, and lawyers to determine excellence? Due to our society's inability to rein in unchecked corporate greed, I bailed out of the profession I loved, abandoning the students I love, because I couldn't take hitting my head against the wall anymore. J.T. Georgia
It's really a sad thing when you see a high school student not graduating because they couldn't pass their last required regents D.T. New York
Sometimes we raise our voices and are answered with a swift slap of a reprimand: Earlier this month my district sent teachers a letter saying we would not be allowing parents to opt-out of NWEA testing. Knowing what I know by being a BAT and union officer, I sent the email on to my state Office of Public Instruction with the question, "Is this true" and a statement saying I, a parent and educator, am "confused and concerned." Today, in my home mailbox, I received a letter from my HR director saying she had a copy of my email, and "my actions were not at all constructive" and it goes on to say I should have gone to my admin...and a copy of the reprimand is in my file as of today.
How's that for trying to advocate for my own sons and my special needs/ED/LD/resource English students who will be forced to take the tests for FIVE days straight next week?!? S.H. Montana
2 years ago, I heard about a kid who was wearing his cap and gown, sitting with his graduating class, waiting to hear his name called so he could go up and get his diploma. The principal walked over to him and quietly whispered to him that the scores had just come in and he wasn't graduating with a standard diploma. Aside from the fact that this was heartbreaking for this student, it also illustrates how we are at the mercy of indifferent, profit-driven test corporations (chiefly the odious Pearson). The scores of these spurious tests are never back when they're supposed to be. Because nobody at Pearson gives a damn. A.B. (State not reported)
NY after my 9th grade daughter took her common Core Algebra Exam.. She refused to take the regular exam... She said to me .. " I'm never going to pass so why bother". They should have given the regular exam first.. D.B. New York
As an English III teacher in TN, I have the unique ability to see all students' testing data throughout their school career. It is laid out in charts and graphs through the amazing EVAAS system. I was encouraged to show these, along with projections, to my students before their EOC test. When I showed one student, who had a significant drop in 6th grade, he said in a matter-of-fact voice, "Yeah, 6th grade was the year my mom died. I didn't really try on my test.". That moment changed me. I no longer cared about test scores, even if that meant losing my job. I still showed data charts, but when I saw a significant drop, I would ask, " What happened in your life that year, if you don't mind sharing?" Stories of divorce, death, rape, abuse, depression, substance abuse, and more were shared. I encouraged journaling and would find counseling for students when needed. People are not products - our worth cannot be measured by numbers. A.W. Tennessee
Way back in the 90s, Ohio began to administer proficiency tests once a year in core subjects. I announced to no one in particular that the day the state required a standardized test in drama would be the day I walk out the door. That time has finally arrived, much to my chagrin and despair. Last year, when required by the state of Ohio to come up with an SLO plan for my drama students, I created a digital portfolio for each student that showed growth over the course of a year. But at the end of the school year, my SLO was tossed out and I was given the aggregate math and LA scores for the entire district as my Value-Added Measurement. This left me with a grade of "D" as a teacher for the year. This year, I was told to write TWO SLOs, which could no longer be portfolio-based but rather must be a test given on a computer. That is when I decided to retire rather than create an inauthentic measurement of drama student success. The next drama teacher can deal with the problem -- I refuse to have testing blood on my hands. W.D. Ohio