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Monday, April 16, 2007

A massive cover-up

Since the math TAKS is tomorrow, I was scurrying around like a buzzing bee trying to cover up everything that needed to be covered up in my classroom. Normally, I would have to do the bulletin boards outside in the hallway as well, but I came to a mutually valuable agreement with my coworker, Mrs. Math. She would cover my bulletin boards if I would cover the number line in her room.

The reason that we are always given as to why we have to cover up all "text and numbers" in our rooms before the math test is so that the kids can't see anything that might help them or give them an unfair advantage with a problem on the test.

That got me thinking that perhaps I should send a letter to the Powers That Be expressing my room's unreadiness.

Dear District Personnel:

I began covering aspects of my room today, per instructions for TAKS administrations, but I have begun to realize how futile my efforts are. You see, if I am to remove all the visual aids that might unfairly help my kids during the test, it's not enough for me to merely place construction paper over my number line (so that the kids will not be able to look up and see what number comes after 42) or over my Word Wall (so that the kids will not be reminded of the proper spelling of the word "cylinder" -- even though any question relating to a cylinder will already have the word right there).

Verily, even covering up my Classroom Rules, which, granted, ARE mathematically numbered from one to five, or covering up my cursive alphabet strips (I guess so that kids will remember to PRINT their extra work, instead of handwriting it?) is not sufficient!

You see, there are many more things in the classroom environment that might help them on the test. For instance, a child may glance up from his/her exam and notice the shades on the windows. The shades can be pulled up or pulled down, and thinking about these options might remind the child of estimation, where they are required to round up and round down. These shades will need to be removed immediately. Also, the ceiling tiles in my classroom are square in shape AND are arranged in a geometric pattern. I would absolutely hate for a test monitor to enter my room and see how easily a student could be reminded of such topics by simply looking up. I would like to request that my ceiling be removed before the test tomorrow, or at the very least, that a large tarp is provided to cover the tiles.

My third graders go to lunch every day at the same time. They already know when lunch will be served, and they will be constantly thinking throughout the day about how much time they have left until lunch! Do you agree with me that this is a constant reminder of elapsed time? I suggest that no lunch is served on TAKS days, or if that is not possible, that the time to eat is chosen completely at random. Maybe they'll eat at 8:43, maybe they'll eat at 1:59. Oh, and we should also send the kids home at separate times; perhaps some sort of lottery system could be put into play?

Earlier in the year, when we talked about measurement and units of length, we associated each unit of length with a part of the body. An inch is about the length from the tip of the thumb to the first knuckle. A foot is about the length from the elbow to the wrist. I am sad to report that all of the children in my class this year are in possession of thumbs, elbows, and wrists, and this will undoubtedly assist these children in any measurement questions that might arise on the TAKS. I feel that the child's OWN body parts are acceptable help, but other children in the room will be unacceptable visual reminders. Therefore, we will need to administer the TAKS to each child separately, with no other human beings in the room.

Actually, it occurs to me that the classroom itself is a rectangular prism. What can we do about putting each child into an amorphous physical structure?

Thanks for taking all of these things into consideration. If you could have some answers back to me by tomorrow morning, I would greatly appreciate it. Otherwise, will have to implement these things next year.

Your loyal servant,

Mister Teacher


happychyck said...

Wow! You really have some test security issues. I hope that you get some help in there to fix your problems, otherwise if someone catches you, you could be the next big story in Texas. Good job teaching them how to cheat all year!

Reading this reminded how the day before our big state test the counselor who'd been set to check our rooms told the Spanish teacher she had to cover all her posters. Not one word of English anywhere on her walls, but somehow those posters might have been a help. Okay... The ELL kids tested in her classroom--if only some posters with elementary Spanish words might have helped them.

Jules the Crazy said...

HA! Thank you for the giggles! This is so sadly ridiculous yet true...though I'm not going to sympathize with you too much, as we had our English state test in JANUARY.

...Amorphous physical structures...tee hee...

eleanor said...

You are honest. This is very very good. Educators are so under the gun here, that teachers and principals have been caught cheating. I sympathize with them. Our provincial tests are loopy and count for squat. Results are published, even school by school. This has really damaged our area. We need doctors in the worst way, but those with young families have given us a pass. Sometimes I wish our teachers would cheat more. Or better still, I wish every parent would withdraw their child from the tests so they would be rendered invalid. (Parts of this post were written by my alter-ego.
She's a rule-breaker.)

Mrs. T said...

This was hilarious, especially because it's so true. I hope you send it. Admin could use a laugh or 2.

IMC Guy said...

I remember covering stuff up in my classroom in the past, and that was before all of this high stakes testing. I can only imagine what's going on now. Thanks for the great description!!

Back then, we were told that anything that was up all year could stay up, but I'm sure that has changed quite a bit.

Phin said...

I spoke with a neighbor, who happens to be a teacher, the other day and she passed along that they had a kid pruke on their test this year.
The sick child was unable to complete the test and supposedly won't even have the option of a retake.
Instead the child's pruke-laden exam was cleaned up, poured off, de-chunked as best as possible, bagged, CSI style, and will be sent to Austin with all the rest.
Won't that be a fun surprise for whoever is first to open that little gift.


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