Lance Scranton: Tests are like ‘pesky critters’
April 4, 2012
About this time every year I take my boys out to a friend's house so we can assist with some bothersome critters that dig holes all over his fields. We train our sights on the vexatious vermin that can make farming a nightmare.
When we are leaving and thanking our host, he always says, "Come back anytime, there's plenty more where they came from."
We must be making a dent in the population of pesky perpetrators but the more we send out our rapid-fire solutions, the more problems show up to take their place.
Once a year, about this same time, the State of Colorado comes out to Craig to hunt down our students overall capacity in academics.
We prepare our students for the test by offering just about every incentive we can think of short of begging.
Then we scurry around for two days, keeping our rooms quiet and test-worthy.
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The results arrive each August and we wring our hands, break down the numbers, celebrate the positives, try and explain the negatives, and set up strategies to overcome the weaknesses and disadvantages the state tells us we have in our "average" schools.
But as I've taught and coached the last 14 years, I've interacted with hundreds of kids who are far above average and go on to live above-average lives. One such student emailed this week from his office in Denver, where he is an assistant superintendent on a $35 million construction project.
He wrote: "I’m not sure if I ever let you know how much I enjoyed being coached by you or if I ever thanked you for all you did for me way back in the glory days. But I really do appreciate all you taught me and how much you helped me along.
"I’ve never been able to figure out how coaches and teachers put up with some of the stuff you do without getting much in return, but you definitely made an impact on my life. Thanks for everything. Hope to hear from you again and keep up the awesome work you’re doing, it sure does make a difference."
Try to imagine someone coming to your workplace once a year to give you a test.
You don't know what will be on the test so you can't prepare, but if you fail the test it really doesn't matter. But, your grade on the test will be published and you will be grouped together with all the other employees and given an overall grade.
I'll be the first to admit that on certain tests some people might not want to be grouped with me and there are some teachers who I wouldn't want to be grouped with either.
Sometimes I feel like the pesky critters out in the field that find themselves scurrying about, whose only "solution" is to get back into their hole and keep their heads down low, at least until next year.
Enjoy spring break.