Friday, February 09, 2007

Mrs. President, sprinklers, and standardized tests

At school, things have been a flurry of activity of late. Not last weekend, but the weekend before, none other than Ms. Hilary Clinton came to have a press conference in our library. (oops, I mean media center) Unfortunately, I had prior kid commitments, so was unable to attend. Even if you're not a fan, what a thrill. I heard it was pretty canned- only the press was allowed to ask any questions, no surprises in what she said. It was earlier in the day, but still here in town, where she made some comment about the big, bad man or whatever it was she said.

We have steam heat at school and the boiler has been crazy- really cold rooms in parts of the building, sauna like conditions in others. Yesterday we got to school to find that one of the sprinkler heads in the auditorium had burst, causing all kinds of water damage to the 3rd and 4th floors.

The kids are all wacky because tomorrow is their version of the Sadie Hawkins dance. We've had 2 auds in the past 2 weeks- one to announce the candidates for King of the Dance, and today they announced the winner. The show choir performed- and I am such a dork, I was actually moved to tears. Let me explain myself- they did a number that was beautifully sung- these kids have such amazing talent- and it was all a tribute to our soldiers, a couple of the kids wore military uniforms and they had a folded American flag. I was trying to keep it together, but I just couldn't, sap that I am.

AND, ITEDs are next week and we have to get off the "watch" list, so there is much pressure on the kids to do well, and if they can't do well, they have to do better. So, we have been spending the last 15 minutes of 4th block doing test prep. A committee ran an item analysis of the questions missed on last years' test and made up some math and reading questions that are of a similar type. So, I had to go over the Pythagorean theorum with the kids, which I get, and parabola, which I do not and never did. I don't know if it will help, but it certainly can't hurt. I have a feeling that the kids who do well are going to do well anyway and the kids who don't care will continue not to care. We even have an incentive for them- they will get a maximum of 3 tickets on which they will write their names. The tickets will be put into a drawing for various prizes- tvs, movie tickets, ice cream gift certificates, etc. Should we be bribing them to take these tests? I have a hard time with this. It's hard to make any of the kids care about these tests, when they have no bearing on their grades, nor is their admission to college contingent upon their doing well. If their promotion to the next grade or graduation were contingent upon their achieving certain scores, I think they might work a bit harder. As it is, even the smart ones don't worry much about these tests. Now, the rest of us? We are freaking out. If we don't meet certain criteria- especially in sub-groups, we go back on "The List". Frankly, I think everyone's going to be on that list sooner or later.


Blogger happychyck said...

Whew! Lots going on! We have drawings for the students who have perfect attendance during major testing. I am not sure that it truly compels them to come to school. When the dean shows up at your door, I would think that would do the trick.

The bingo game I was telling you about? Apparently it's not original. It's called Bullshit Bingo. Check out these sites: and I think the teacher at my school pieced her own together with likely terms we might hear.

2/09/2007 6:41 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

It's too bad presidential candidates are so scripted and controlled. I'm no fan of George W. Bush, for example, but there was a documentary Nancy Pelosi's daughter Alexandra made about him called "Travels with George."

She documented his 2000 primary campaign. That guy in the documentary, ironically, was far more appealing than the one we've been watching in the news for these 6 long years. He was absolutely charming, believe it or not.

I wonder, aside from everything in the news, what happened to that guy.

2/10/2007 8:32 AM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

nyc educator- I heard about that movie, and I've seen interviews with Pelosi's daughter. I know several people who have seen the documentary and have stated that if you've seen it, you would find him to be very likable. For some reason, I'm perfectly happy thinking he's a blithering idiot and that he's got. to. go. So, I haven't seen the film and probably won't. He makes my stomach turn.

2/10/2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Pendullum said...

Sounds like a pressure filled week for the kids and the teachers...

And I am glad you are a mush ball and sap...(okay you didn't say mush ball.. but you are one...)

and one of the many reasons I comeback to your blog...

2/10/2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger ms. whatsit said...

We've been deconstructing previous standardized test results all year in anticipation for ours, which will come up again in March. The concensus among my teacher buddies is similar to yours: Kids who don't care are not going to do any better. Sigh!

2/10/2007 12:30 PM  
Blogger Kevin Charnas said...

Oh man...I'm so glad that we didn't have standardized tests. I'd probably still be in 3rd grade.

2/10/2007 7:27 PM  
Blogger marsha_tm said...

Wow. The Pythagorean theorum. I can't even remember what that is. My kids are SO going to need a math tutor - I'll be completely useless.

2/11/2007 12:19 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

Rest assured, Ms. T., that the film will not change any of your opinions about what GW has done since he got into office. I think, though, that many of us "misunderestimate" him, and that's one of the reasons he's president.

Of course, Little Brother's state, Diebold voting machines and Daddy's Supreme Court didn't hurt either.

2/11/2007 8:39 AM  
Blogger Mister Teacher said...

And this is exactly why standardized testing SUCKS so hard. Because all it does add extreme pressure to teachers and a few students. The kids who don't care still don't care. And somehow the teachers and schools are blamed for this.
We have the reading TAKS on February 20, so our days have been high-octane as well.
Good luck -- I hope your kids do well!

2/11/2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

Heck, the parents don't even care. And not only do we have standardized tests, but we have 3 benchmark tests throughout the year to see how they're going to do on the standardized tests and to determine what we need to reteach in the time we don't have. And we can't give a grade on these, and the kids know it, so they just color in the bubbles. It drives me nuts.

2/11/2007 6:45 PM  

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