April showers bring May flowers. April brings spring and warmer days, with sunshine and flowers – the birds and the bees are back. Easter is celebrated among Christians worldwide – as a sign of renewal and hope.
But for teachers, April is a long month.
For the teachers in Arizona, it is testing month, and it is a month where students are challenged to sit at their desks for hours and take tests to compare themselves to their former selves and others.
Maybe that was a bit much. Let me try to simplify it. These tests measure students’ growth from previous years, and it is a measurement to see how our Arizona students are doing against the rest of the country’s children in schools.
It is also a glimpse of whether we teachers are teaching like we should be doing. We could be doing more if we didn’t have testing interruptions! At my school, we have two weeks of testing, and yes, the students have to stay at school after testing, but I’m worried that I’m not going to get 100% attention from the students.
Do you want to know why?
Students will use the “I’ve been testing all day! I’m tired!” Or, “Ms. Watson, can we have a free day today? We’ve been testing!”
The excuses teachers hear daily are overpowering and tiring!
I know that in other parts of the country, schools are not out until June. In Arizona, our school year ends in May. It should be an easy coast downhill to May, but the hoop in April is testing, and we still need to finish our units or novels for a proper closure to school. April is like rolling a stone uphill with curves (I think I heard that from someone else recently, and it’s a great analogy)!
I am grateful to be a teacher; please don’t get me wrong. The beauty of teaching students to look deeper into the text or novel and write about it using new vocabulary and other skills brings me joy! However, the testing portion of this educational system puts a damper on keeping the students motivated. The older students get, the more they become aware of what testing is all about. Some high school students deliberately tank the test because they don’t care: “I’m not getting a grade for it, so what do I care?” When I was in high school, and we had to take the Stanford 9 tests, this guy who sat in front of me bubbled the four-letter word that began with F for his answers. He showed it to us, and it was funny. Everything was funny at 16. Although I always tried my best, the results were the same: I had high scores in Reading and Language but lower scores in Math.
Well, things are different now in Arizona. The Stanford 9 has been long gone; we had the AIMS, a high-stakes graduation test (I was glad that came after I graduated). The AIMS morphed into the AzMerit tests, and now the state has decided to use the ACT as the state-mandated test. Students are confused about why they are taking the ACT, and a few of them asked me, “Do we need to pay to take the test?” “What if I don’t score well? Will I not go to college?”
Arizona in April is not a teacher’s best friend.
Teachers are worst than the students with senioritis!
Or, maybe it’s just me.