It's almost Testing Season.
If you are a junior in high school, you have a plethora of tests to take.
ACT and SAT tests.
Advanced Placement Tests.
Oh, and there's also the California High School Exit Exam, which is written for seventh-and-eighth grade curriculum, but if you've failed it you need to take it again.
Kids also have benchmark exams that are district-wide.
I tell my ninth-graders to give the juniors cookies and speak softly and not to make swift, jerky movements around them at this time of year.
All of the kids hate this time of year.
Most of the teachers do, too.
Because if you haven't managed to get to Standard 406.b.1 because you actually slowed down to keep the kids with you, you are pretty much screwed, and so are the kids.
They get labeled "Below Basic," "Basic," "Proficient," or "Advanced" on the state tests.
Teachers get labeled, too, even if the kid has made enormous strides in the school year. It doesn't matter where the kid was at the beginning of the year, because they all need to be in the SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME by the time Testing Season rolls around.
I don't mind assessments. The ones I write show me what the kids get and what they don't get. We all benefit. I can adjust my teaching.
All of these tests make a lot of money for a lot of people.
And they get together and discuss tests and most of them have Studied Education but few of them are actually teachers. Real teachers who want what is best for kids.
And administering all of these tests looks good on paper.
Looking good on paper makes adults feel good.
I tell my students, Here is the Important Thing. I paraphrased this from To Kill a Mockingbird.
People of character do the best they can with what they have.
That's it. That is the Important Thing.
Do your best.
You are more than a piece of paper.
You are a human being with intrinsic dignity and you contain endless possibilities.
And maybe someday education will become something we do with kids, not to them.