It is TEST day.
I have time to write this entry because I have been sitting for an hour and a half in a completely silent classroom, where 24 fifth graders are toiling painfully to complete “Session One of the ELA Reading Comprehension Test”.
Although I have tried very, very hard to present the testing in a casual, stress-free way, the tension in the room is palpable.
Maybe because I had to tell them that they are not allowed to leave the room except to go to the bathroom, due to test security demands. Maybe because I had to read the directions about “the use of cell phones or other electronic devices is strictly prohibited.” Maybe because they hear the news, see the pepers, listen to adult discussions. Maybe because no matter how much I tell them “just do your best”, they live in fear that their “best” isn’t quite good enough.
I look out at the room. Two children have already been fighting tears. One is new to the state, and hasn’t taken this particular test before. He wasn’t sure where to put the answers on the first few items. One is a struggling reader with attention issues. She has asked me to clarify things for her three times, but I am not allowed to help her.
Those are the worst words that I say all year, and I will say them over and over again during these testing days. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you, honey.”
I see flushed faces, and shaking hands. I hear feet tapping, fingers drumming and pencils being chewed. I can almost feel the racing hearts.
They are ten and eleven years old. They are not built to sit still and concentrate for an hour and a half. They are not meant to bear the reputation of the school or the district on their small shoulders.
I HATE THIS.