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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Having My Teaching Judged By a "Boring A**" Exam

Today my students took their English 11 district benchmark exam, the one the district will judge our school and me on how well we have educated our students this year.  I had the students from my time block 1 English 11 class, a pretty good bunch of kids.  They, for the most part, took their time and, I think, did their best.  One young man, however, arrived half way through the allotted 3 class periods time set aside by the school for the students to take this important exam. Nevertheless, he finished the exam, though I suspect he rushed through it to get it out of the way.

Another teacher had my 7th time block class, the one with several problem children in it. He reported to me that a couple of students appeared to wait till near the end of the allotted time and then rushed through marking answers at random. Another had her head down on her desk nearly the entire period. Three or four times he went over and admonished her to get her head off her desk and take the test seriously.  The last time he tried, she didn't bother to lift her head. She simply looked up at him and closed her eyes.  However, she handed in a completed answer sheet at the end of the testing period.

My point is, how can we as a school and I as a teacher be fairly judged by the results of this test when some of the students don't take it seriously at all.  After all, this is not, by their reasoning a real test. It's just, in the words of one student, another "boring a** exam" he is made to take much against his will. Yet these exams are taken very seriously by the power that be in our district and our state.  It is even possible that my career could be adversely affected by an exam that my students just blow off casually.

It doesn't seem fair somehow.

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