Monday, April 11, 2011

High stakes

It's the week of the Arkansas Benchmark tests in Archer's grade level, and that makes it the climax of the school year.  For months the students have been doing practice items, being reminded to number their answers and not to go outside the box and show their work and fill in the bubble completely.  And when the week is over -- four solid days of not being able to do anything but follow directions and check their work -- the fourth grade will essentially be over, even though there will still be almost two months left on the academic calendar.

We don't worry too much about Archer being able to perform well on these things.  He did really well last year, and the structure of them seems to be comforting and comfortable to him.  When much is expected of him, he tends to rise to the occasion.

Say what you will about high-stakes testing, what bothers me the most is how much wasted time it leaves at the end of the year.  There is a long list of field trips, carnival days, and so forth in the school newsletter, but that still leaves days and days and days where I suspect everyone will be herded into the cafetorium for a movie.  If they're going to make up a week of snow days on top of it all, I wish they'd find a way to make the most of it.

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