While I was sick last week, all the students in the school took an important practice reading test. This past Monday, we got the scores back, and my students totally and completely bombed. I pored over the data, but couldn’t even find where they went wrong: the answers were so scattered that I couldn’t even pick out weak objectives or trick questions. I was sure of one of two possibilities a) that I am the worst teacher ever, or b) that my students had gotten together and decided to play the most elaborate prank of their lives: intentionally failing a super important test in order to give me a minor depressive episode. I didn’t like either possibility. For the first part of each class on Tuesday, I shamed my students by calling them up to my desk individually to point to their score silently and soberly.
Then, after school, I decided to take the test myself to see if I could see what went wrong. I sat down in a student desk, took out my Uniball Vision Elite Micro, and began.
I was horrified.
About five minutes in, I could tell it was a bad test. Either the question itself was weird, more than one answer was correct, or no answer was correct. I began putting asterisks in my booklet next to each bad question and writing notes so I could remember later why that question was bad. At first, my notes said things like:
*Not even figurative language
*Stage directions formatted incorrectly
*Both of these answers are correct?
Then, I started losing my patience. My notes turned into:
*This isn’t even a standard!
*What in hell’s hell.
*I don’t even know exactly what a district attorney does! This can’t even be figured out from context. So stupid!
*Is this a joke?
By the time I was done with the test, I discovered that 40% of the questions were bad enough that they should have been left out. I emailed an administrator to let her know I’d found several errors with the test, and we set an appointment for today during my conference period to talk about it.
However, when my conference period rolled around, my administrator didn’t show. I actually forgot about it, too, until she showed up during my next class. I had about eight students waiting to ask me about their papers.
“Sorry I couldn’t make it,” she said. “If you can email me the numbers of questions you found problematic, I can see what we can do about it.”
My heart sank a little at the idea of another email to write during lunch, until I remembered something.
“Oh!” I said. “Actually, I already have asterisks in this packet next to bad questions.” I handed the booklet to her.
“Thanks!” she said as she was leaving. “Hopefully we can get this sorted out!”
Did you catch my mistake?
Luckily, my administrator has an amazing sense of humor. Unluckily, she showed THE REST OF ADMINISTRATION MY PACKET. She assured me that everyone thought it was hilarious, but that didn’t stop me from feeling diarrheaish the rest of the day--even now when I think about it.
Also, the test was written by someone at my school.
So what did I learn from this?
1) Maybe don’t write down bad words at school
2) Think very hard before handing pieces of paper to ADMINISTRATORS
3) Have more faith in the nuggets and their abilities. (Tomorrow I’m bringing them Oreos as an apology for shaming them.)