Thursday, May 09, 2019

Drat that NYSESLAT!

 (That's pronounced NIGH--suh--slat.)

I'm sitting outside the school auditorium. Things are pretty slow right now. Inside the auditorium a bazillion kids, many of them my students, are taking a test. I can hear a voice booming loudly talking about something or other. I'm trying to tune out because I have a blog to write.

This is the fifth day of classes I'm missing. You see, the geniuses in Albany don't just give any test. It's an extravaganza. I mean, there's the speaking test. Now that only takes twenty minutes, but each of us has to test maybe a million students. So it takes a long time. And it's pretty goshdarn tedious too, reading the same thing one million times.

Of course the students read it along with you. That's one reason why it's such a terrible test. Theoretically, you're testing their listening and speaking abilities. Actually, though, you need not listen at all. The entire script the teacher is reading is right there in front of you. And you know what? If you don't understand the question, all you need to do is read the script, change a word here and there, and then you've pretty much done it all.

And if that's not cool enough, there's often a second question that's almost identical to the first question. You can pretty much say the same thing and get the same result. Why? Well, it's hard to say what the geniuses in Albany were thinking when they decided to do that. Actually, they likely didn't make that decision at all. They just paid a bazillion dollars to some testing company to write this thing.

One of the really cool things about this test is, since the company got paid a mere bazillion dollars, they recycle half the test from year to year. So if you learned about Hammurabi's Code last year, you just have to talk about it again this year. Maybe you were really interested, so you checked it out on Wikepedia or something. More likely you weren't so you didn't. Nonetheless, I can only suppose NY State would've had to pay two bazillion dollars for an entirely new test, so therefore it's saving money.

I can't comment too much on what's going on right now because I lucked out. I'm sitting outside while several of my colleagues are in there listening to some tape or other. I have to tell students that the auditorium is closed. I have to tell colleagues no, I can't let you take your student out even if you have a Regents exam coming up. Would you let me pull the student from your Regents? No? Then I can't let you pull the student from the NYSESLAT either. It might be stupid, it might be poorly written, it might not determine anything of valdity, but it's required.

The kids not only have to listen to it, but they have to pay attention as well, Judging from what I'm hearing, it must be difficult. I'm sitting with a colleague and watching her eat corn. This, evidently, is a better use of my time than, you know, teaching. The truth is my dog could do a better job watching my colleague eat corn, and I'm pretty sure he'd take a keener interest.

Anyway, I have two more days of sitting out here, or in there, and doing something, or nothing, or whatever. Truth be told, I'd rather be teaching. 
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