March 12, 2009


It’s time once again for the Maine Educational Assessment. Kids are sitting in my classroom filling in circles completely and not marking in the space marked “Do Not Mark in This Space” longing for an end in sight.

Given that the test is ultimately irrelevant to the students for all practical purposes (unlike the SAT scores on which colleges often dwell) the teachers mantra for the week is a paltry ‘try your hardest.’ Sometimes it’s a “This could affect our funding and programs could be cut if we don’t do well”, which still does little to motivate the students. In the sports minded school that Dirigo is, I opt to appeal to emotion by bringing our rival school into it: “It’s pretty sad if you guys can’t even beat Mt. Valley on this test. We need to show them who’s better at standardized testing. Let’s Go!”

Motivated or not students fill in the bubbles, insert their answer booklets into their test booklets, hand them to me, I put them into a box, that box is joined with other boxes to form a big box that goes to the State. And magically, the State grades them using bubble-sensitive equipment and determines how effective or ineffectives we are as teachers. Sounds reasonable. If little Jimmy wants to fill in bubbles using a check mark or x’s instead of filling them in completely the State will deem the boy ‘dumb’ and his teachers ‘incompetent’. I hope the little Jimmies in my class fill the bubbles in completely.



  1. Dave B. said

    Yeah, it’s as if by magic that those little ovals will tell us whether we’ve got geniuses on our hands. You’d think maybe it would take a more intricate shape to tell you something like that…say, a dodecahedron or something. Nope, it’s an oval.

  2. Rick A said

    We need a national boycott of all standardized tests. The students should just refuse to write on the forms. Education has come to a standstill and our students are being seriously shortchanged in the process. We refer to “No Child Left Behind” as “no school left standing”. NCLB should be left behind. If the urban districts need motivation to improve their systems so be it, but leave the rest of us alone!

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