We go through countless trainings, cover anything in our classrooms that might remotely help kids, put all of our desks in neat little rows, fill out seating charts and sign oaths...all for a test. A test that if you administer incorrectly, could cost you your job. A test that could alter a child's schedule for the next year if they do not pass. A test that could send a child to summer school if they do not pass certain sections of the test.
The biggest problem I have is the stress these tests put on the kids. I've seen kids so nervous, they attend tutorials every day of the week in the weeks before the test, even if they have done well in class all year. I've seen kids walk in with no less than 10 pencils, 3 erasers, 2 pencil sharpeners, a lunch, a snack, 3 bottles of water and a ziplock bag full of peppermints. I've seen kids come to me stressed out because they don't know if their mechanical pencil is a number 2 pencil or not. I've had kids worried they didn't erase their original mark enough when they wanted to change an answer. I've seen kids check over their work 4 and 5 times, close their books for a few minutes, then check another 2 or 3 times. And worst of all, I've seen a 6 foot, 7th grade boy sit at his desk with tears streaming down his face because, "Coach Winck, I just can't think of anything to write about." On a normal day, I would talk to this student and help him work through it. On state testing days, the only thing I can do is pat him on the back and say, "Try your best", then leave my classroom and cry for him. When did we start putting the weight of a 7th graders world in a test?!?