Thursday, February 12, 2009


One of the things I hate more than anything is standardized testing. The state of Oregon loves to put my students through a few horrific rounds of this every year. The tests have always been way too challenging for my students but at least we used to test on paper and I'd work one on one with students to elicit spoken responses which allowed me to be as gentle and encouraging as possible with them.

But no more. Now all these tests are computerized. My students have very little computer experience so doesn't it make perfect sense to test them using an unfamiliar medium? Why, keeping them confused and anxious is certain to elicit their best responses, right? But it gets worse. Tonight as I gave my students their annual English Language Proficiency Assessment (the dreaded ELPA) one after another got trapped by error messages, forcing us to log them in repeatedly, move them from one computer to another, and interrupting any possible semblance of concentration they might have had. I keep trying to explain that it's not their fault and they've done nothing wrong but how am I supposed to convey that in, say, in Burmese?

Why do we do this again? I think I'm supposed to be proving something, but I'm not sure what. The test is way too difficult for my students, I've lost an entire day of instruction, and subjected my students no end of frustration and doubt. But thank God we're in compliance with the state.


Anonymous said...

Hey - ELPA hell is its own special kind of hell. Thanks for reminding me of my "reasons I enjoy not teaching" list.
Remember, you are the one keeping an eye on what each of those students needs, and you do your best to give it to them. This is critical.

ElizO said...

It almost (but not quite) makes me see where the libertarians are coming from.