Proficiency Testing Blues

This last week we administered our high school proficiency tests, a series of three multiple choice exams which must be passed in order to graduate.  There are tests for science, math, and reading.  I proctored the two-hour science test during regular classes on Monday morning, and the math and reading tests–three hours for each–on a special day set aside for them on Tuesday.  Some events:

  • One young man put his head down less than half an hour into the three hour math test.  I nudged him and asked if he was done.  He said no and put his head back down.  A few minutes later, I saw him texting on a cell phone, so I took his test away and said that it couldn’t count now, even though he’d already done a two hour section of the test the day before (as per test security rules which I explained before the test started).  He said he didn’t care, and calmly left for the dean’s office. 


  • You’d think an episode like that would have made the other students less likely to play with their phones during the test.  You’d be wrong.  Such is the totality of addiction, don’t you know.


  • A young woman came back from lunch announcing that as soon as she was done with her test, she was getting up and leaving. During the test, her attention span must have run out, as she and the three friends around her started whispering and throwing bits of paper at each other. I moved them to desks at different corners of the room, to which she grumbled that I was difficult and irritating. She sat down and refused to keep working. A few minutes later, she also started texting. She got what she apparently wanted–I took her test and she had to go to the dean.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work!

In preparation for next week’s proficiency exams, the school district is distributing this pamphlet to high school students in the valley.

It’s one thing to remind students to get a good night’s rest, but…an exhaustive, illustrated guide to doing squats and lunges?  A specific list of preferred healthy snacks, including Nature Valley “Chewy” Granola Bars (Oatmeal Raisin flavored, especially), and Nutri-Grain Banana Muffin Bars?  Is the school district getting a kick back from this promotion or something?

I can just imagine some kid sixty years from now saying, “Grandma, what’s your secret to the great life you’ve had?”, and her answering, “Well, back when I was a sophomore in high school, they gave us these pamphlets about being healthy, and it changed my life.  That piece of paper made me alter my entire lifestyle.  Suddenly, I was a different person, and I cared for my life with the kind of independent maturity that can only come from a single handout one day at school.” 

Kids might be lazy and ignorant, but they’re not stupid.  How in the world can we expect them to take us–and our curricula–seriously when we give them stuff like this?