Monday, October 04, 2021

Non-English Speakers Race to the Standardized Test

As everyone knows, learning English is not very important for newcomers to this country. Otherwise, why would the city, in its infinite wisdom, make them spend weeks taking the NYSESLAT exam? 

The NYSESLAT exam is supposedly to determine how much English they know. What it does, actually, is determine how Common Corey they are. Evidently Common Coriness is an important quality. Personally, I feel deprived because never in my life has anyone tried to determine just how Common Corey I am. Perhaps I shouldn't have graduated high school. 

Of course, in the days when I went to high school, we tested ridiculous things like how well you read or write. I actually had to write an essay on my English Regents exam, and I had no list of facts to be for or against. Now I did pretty well, if I recall correctly, but it's entirely possible I'm not Common Corey at all. How, then, could the city employ me and pay me to be a role model for these kids?

Oddly, when I teach advanced classes many of my students can no longer handle novels, like back in the old days before we rated the Common Coriness factor. Nor can many of them write their way out of paper bags. Perhaps we need a new standardized test to measure writing your way out of paper bags. Stranger things have happened.

In any case, so what if my students lose a few weeks of direct English instruction. If the instruction isn't helping them to pass multiple choice tests, or regurgitate a bunch of information they're for or against, what's really the point? After all, the genius who designed Common Core, David Somebody or Other, conclusively determined that no one gives a crap what you think or feel. Therefore we have a newer English Regents exam. Though we've removed the words Common Core from them, it still tests how Common Corey you are.

Another thing I just learned is this--Since my students only lose a week or two with the Common Coriness test, they need another one. I don't recall what it's called, but my supervisor just told me we start giving it on Wednesday. This test, evidently, will take multiple days, and is important because the superintendent wants to measure something or other of Great Importance.

And not only that, but later this year they've going to test them again to see how well they've learned Whatever It Is that's on this Very Important Test. Then, we're going to test them for a third time, just for good measure. We need to know how they do on multiple choice questions related to passages they don't understand at all.


I said my students have only been here for a few months and know very little English, but that doesn't matter. This was decided way above our level  We need to determine whatever it is this test measures before we worry about trivial things like whether or not our students speak English. Evidently the superintendent, or the chancellor, or some other omniscient being even higher up has determined this needs to be done. As a lowly teacher, I don't get a vote on whether or not it's necessary.

So who cares if kids lose 10-20% of whatever slither of English instruction we have left after Part 154 cut ESL instruction into ribbons? The important thing is to find out Whatever It Is This Test Measures. Let's get on that right away, for goodness sake. 

Meanwhile, the mayor should economize and hire a monkey to do my job. Sure, maybe the monkey would have to use a recording rather than reading the instructions, but to tell you the truth, given my students don't know any English, the instructions won't make a damn bit of difference.

I continue to be grateful that the people above me know what's best. If it weren't for them, I'd fritter the whole year away teaching newcomers how to speak English.

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