Thursday, March 23, 2023

Proctoring the PSAT

I don't mind telling you that I hate proctoring. It's not so bad in my own classes with tests that I've written. But I feel pretty stupid proctoring the physics Regents exam, or pretty much any exam involving subjects I don't know. Kids ask me questions and I feel pretty stupid when I can't answer them. In fact, I can't even know whether or not I'm supposed to answer. 

The PSAT is even worse. It wasn't really hard work. I had a partner, we managed to share the time, and we agreed whenever possible I would read and he would write. His handwriting was pretty clear. Mine is diabolical. While I usually understand it, lots of people do not. Sometimes kids laugh out loud at my handwriting. It makes me think I should've been a doctor. Doctors are notorious for bad handwriting. There's just the matter of my total lack of scientific ability. 

I never took the PSAT myself. I took the SAT once, and I remember it was a Saturday morning. The night before I had read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, so I was feeling very philosophical.  I loved that book. I've tried to teach it three times, and I've never been able to get students to share my love for it. I've stopped trying, Still, it beats the hell out of sitting for the PSAT. 

The first part of the test entailed having students fill out items 1-8. We all did that together. Evidently, it's important for those folks at College Board to know your name if they're going to score your test. That's fair enough. I wouldn't want to be stuck with the grade of some random stranger. Of course, random strangers tend to be better at math than I am, so there's that.

During the exam, a student asked me about the second page of information PSAT had. I wasn't sure. I had been faithfully reading the manual. I'd spoken to an administrator that day, and she said, "Just read whatever it says."

"You don't want me to improvise?" I asked.

"Absolutely not," she said, in a tone that indicated further discussion was not welcome.

I muttered something about expressing myself, but she was unmoved. So I went with the script. It was not entirely familiar to me. Having been chapter leader for most of the years we'd offered this test, I'd happily managed to weasel out of this particular assignment.

Anyway, after the test was over, there were additional directions about filling out further info, including but not limited to cell phone number and email. The script I read said some of this stuff was optional, but it would be beneficial for colleges to know who you were so they could send you information and such.

I had promised to read the script, so I did. But I felt like I was whoring myself out to College Board. Mayor Eric Adams, in his infinite wisdom, forced me and all my UFT colleagues to take a webinar on student privacy. If privacy is valuable, why is every high school teacher reading stuff on behalf of the College Board pleading for student information? Don't they get paid for the info they share with colleges?

Are these kids going to be bombarded with calls and emails from Fly by Night Online University, with a Delaware PO box mailing address? How much will College Board get paid for that? And since we're out there whoring ourselves out for them, why don't we get a cut? I mean, what sort of whores are we if we don't even get paid for our services?

Personally, I think it's unethical to urge minors to give personal info. I'm not an advocate of parents banning books, but I think they should know in advance when companies are going to seek personal information. I also think they should have a direct veto over sharing it. .

But that's just me. I'm not College Board boss David Coleman, famous for inflicting Common Core on our entire nation. Coleman's money comment is, "No one gives a shit what you think."

I would not be comfortable sharing my child's personal info with any company that sees fit to put a person like that in charge. I'm not sure why Mayor Swagger feels differently. The only thing I'm sure of is that neither he nor Coleman could care less what teachers think. 

That's just one reason why neither of them should be remotely involved in education.

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