In my opinion, that thing is not proctoring. Unfortunately, as a teacher of speakers of other languages, next week my dance card is full. Of proctoring. (I could have said something worse there, but this is a family blog.) Tuesday through Friday, or maybe longer, I will be sitting in the auditorium testing students of other teachers.
I can’t test my own students, you see, because the State of New York has determined that I (along with every single one of my public school colleagues) am not to be trusted. All I care about is test scores, evidently, and I will therefore inflate the scores of every one of my students.
Oddly, I don’t give all of my students 100%. In fact, I fail students on a fairly regular basis, and most definitely more since the coming of the apocalypse. But Governor Hochul has determined I can’t be trusted, and one day she’ll likely be elected, so she must know better than I do.
Today I sat for training on how to administer this test. I wasn’t going to, because I’ve been giving this test for years. It hasn’t changed much. It’s still the same awful piece of garbage it always was. I usually teach beginners. Most of my colleagues don’t love doing this, but I do. That’s kind of a win-win. Three years ago I was given an advanced class for the first time in years.
My advanced students had passed the NYSESLAT test, the one I’ll be administering. NY State calls them “commanding” instead of advanced, because why use precise or direct language, ever? Some of these students had also passed the English Regents exam. The first thing I did was assign a novel with simple language, something I’d done many times before. It was a disaster. I quickly learned a good number of them could not construct a coherent sentence in English. Many could not use past tense.
That didn’t stop them from writing college admission essays. They were painful to read. Some were clearly put through translating software that was woefully inadequate. I modified my expectations, but I was unable to teach the basic skills they really needed. Few of them knew what I teach beginners as a matter of course. And IMHO, that’s largely the fault of this test.
We were mostly able to assess the recorded answers correctly. One fooled us, though. It was a student who was, rather than composing sentences, reading them directly from the text. That one got a zero. However, the next time we caught a student reading directly from the text, when we gave it a zero, the geniuses who designed the test indicated it should get the highest possible score.
The person giving us the training scolded us. He had sent out an invitation for us to participate in designing this test. Now here’s the thing–were I designing a test, I would not have noticed quotes one time, but not another. I’d also not have capitalized the word “sun” for no discernible reason.
That said, I’d rather sit for a root canal than spend time with people who design tests like these. Whoever is in charge of this test has determined that Common Coriness is next to Godliness, and I’m afraid I can’t go along with that. Though Common Core has deserted us in name, both this NYSESLAT and the English Regents exam bear the stink of that time frame.
These exams train our students to either a. avoid reading and writing, or b. deplore it.
I can write a test in 45 minutes that will be better than this one. I’m not saying I’m a great test writer. I’m only saying I’m better than this. That’s a low standard. Still, if the city were to give my department a few days together, I have no doubt we could construct a more useful and accurate test.
And who can best assess my students? Well, that would be me. I’ve been with them every day since September. It’s idiotic that NY State deems me too biased to assess them. They may as well say every single one of us is unfit for our job.
Speak for yourself, NYSED.