Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Test to Test the Teachers Before the Test

Yesterday I went to a PD session in which we looked at the senior English test, a test that counts not for the kids taking it, but rather for the teachers giving it. This is important to us because, as ESL teachers, our students who tested advanced will have to take the test, the test to test the teachers, the test they give before the test to test whether the teachers prepared the kids to to take the test again. You see, fully two days of instruction are lost as we explore whether or not your teachers suck, and if so, just how sucky they may be.

This particular test to test the teachers before the test is an argumentative essay. This, we're told, is completely different from a persuasive essay. Why? Well, in a persuasive essay, I would just make an argument and try to persuade you to accept it. Ah, you say, that's an argumentative essay? Well, you're completely wrong. In fact, I learned yesterday that in an argumentative essay, you give the counter argument and explain why it sucks even worse than the teachers who failed to demonstrate that their students could improve on the test after the test to test the teachers before the test.

What's really great about this test is it has almost a full page of instructions. There's nothing I like better, if I'm an ESL student who doesn't have a whole hell of a lot of English, than spending hours looking up words in a bilingual glossary. That doesn't cramp my style at all. What's style?

You need not concern yourself with style at all if you're in my class. If you're in my class, and there's a gun to my head, and Chancellor Walcott is saying, "Make this non-English-speaking kid pass or I'll shoot," I might whimper a small protest. "But...but the kid doesn't know English!" Naturally the Chancellor would reply, "The test says the kid is advanced, and I paid a billion dollars for Pearson to design it, so no more excuses!"

Well, with that gun to my head, I'd figure out just how that kid could pass that test in the fewest paragraphs possible.

1. Introduction
2. Opposing argument and why it sucks
3. Reason 1 my argument is the bestest, supporting details
4. Reason 2 my argument is the bestest, supporting details
5. (for ambitious, or really advanced students only) Reason 3 my argument is the bestest, supporting details
6. conclusion

And that's about it. I didn't bring the entire list of instructions home with me, as I can fit just so much crap in my house. And I wouldn't want to complicate my prescribed plan for the students, as they can fit just so much crap in their heads. But yes, if you're going to fire me if they don't know it, I will teach them this crap. I've taught kids how to pass many exams that required formulaic crap.

It's too bad. If anyone ever asked me to, I'll bet I could teach kids how to write instead.
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