So your kid Tim takes the English part of the smarter balanced test. Comes home, you ask him how he did. He says okay I guess. You pat Tim on the head and he goes back the next day to do the same thing all over again. He doesn’t learn anything new that day because all the teachers are running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get all the computer stations set up, but the damn bandwidth in the building is too low. They thought they would have enough, but it’s wreaking havoc on the system. Even the principals and administrative staff are told to get off their computers.
Meanwhile, in another state, a human scorer named Rob walks into his $13.00 an hour temp job he got online. He has some teaching experience cause he did a year with TFA. Enough to get him the job. He looks at your child’s essay on the Declaration of Independence. He reads the essay and gets the rubric sheet out. He doesn’t necessarily agree with everything in the Declaration, but he has to remain objective. But guess what, he’s getting paid $13 an hour to look at snot-nosed kids writing about stuff he used to teach. He’s reading and grading, reading and grading. Starts to think about how much time off he will need from his other job to go to the Burning Man Festival. Then he starts thinking about how much money he will need for the ten hour drive. Is Wendy going to go with him? They’ve had problems lately. He’s sick of her making him pay for everything. She has the good job. He’s stuck grading kids stupid tests. And after he’s done with Tim’s essay, he has to read 200 more by the end of the day. All about that piece of paper signed in 1776. It’s not rocket science, it’s history he says to himself. Already frustrated, he wanders off from the rubric. Says a “screw it” to himself.
Tim takes the Math part of Smarter Balanced a few days later. He comes home looking like five miles of bad road. You can tell he’s been crying. Tells you he couldn’t finish the section and he has to wait until next week. What if he forgets everything? He won’t eat that night. He feels like a failure. This was your smartest kid. He got As and Bs since Kindergarten. Won’t get up the next morning. Says he has a headache. You tell him he has to, and after 10 minutes of arguing, you both get in the car. You can tell he didn’t brush his teeth, but you don’t have time to go back. Another week comes by, he comes home, tells you he finished the math. How’d you do? Not good Mom. I think I failed.
Two weeks later Suzie is five weeks into grading Math essays. She’s surprised she doesn’t have cataracts by how many times she has rolled her eyes grading these things. Today is harder cause she was out until 3am with the girls. The hangover isn’t so bad now. Head still hurts a little, but she only has six hours left on her shift. She got stuck with the lemons essay. You have 10 lemons, each squeezes out 1.5 ounces of juice, and you need to make 16 ounces. Do you have enough? She gets Tim’s test. He answered no. You only have enough to make 15 ounces. Suzie pulls out the rubric, and skims it over. Out of a score of 2, this kid gets a 1. He got it right, but his explanation was wrong. She hates doing this, and thinks its stupid, but she needs this job. It’s been very rough for her since the school she taught at got converted into a charter school. She thought she would make the cut when she applied to Hope Springs Eternal Academy, but they hired all those Relay and TFA grads. She spends her days working at Home Depot in the paint section watching soccer Moms take hours to decide on what shade of tan they want for their dining room, and then she goes straight to here to grade math essays. She’s glad she has the time and doesn’t sleep much, gives her more time to go out with her friends from the closed school so they can complain about what they lost. She won’t tell them she has to grade the same kinds of tests that closed her school. She looks at the next one, another kid from the same school writes yes. He wrote a big long essay about the possibility one of the lemons could be bigger. Even though it didn’t say this in the introduction, he gets a 2 because of his “critical thinking”. Wrong answer, good score, right answer, lower score. All day long. Suzie wants to get drunk again tonight.
You get the mail and find out Tim is below proficiency. What the hell happened? He was honor roll up until this year. Then he started coming home with all that strange homework his very intelligent Dad couldn’t even get. She heard about parents opting their kids out, but she thought Tim was so smart it wouldn’t matter. She goes inside as Tim is on the Xbox again. Won’t do his homework anymore. Starting to get lippy with both her and his father. She feels like she has lost her son.
This is what will happen all over Delaware starting next month. Don’t be Tim’s Mom. Opt your child out now!