CCRAP testing is back. It’s the time of year that I dread more than anything. Well, maybe not more than snow day make up days tacked on to the end of the year but pretty close. This week I was blessed with a double-whammy, the poisoned chalice, an unexpected day off during PARCC testing week.
7 days, back to back, of testing Math and ELA college and career readiness with 8- and 9-year-olds for the first time in their academic career. I don’t know if a rational adult would choose that over hand-feeding an angry octopus for a year but I certainly don’t have a choice. I get to administer this test in March, wasting an entire week of instruction, and get the results in October. Super helpful.
I am one of those people that abide by the sound reasoning of, “If you’re going through hell keep on going, don’t slow down,” and this especially applies to standardized testing. Once we have begun this labyrinth of anxiety, tears and frustration there is no way I am slowing down or taking a day off. Unless, of course, school is cancelled. In that case, I guess I will just cry.
When I got the phone call from my principal I was putting my face on for the day. I had one eye of mascara completed and I paused to take her call. I watched myself talking to her in the mirror, strangely admiring my mannerisms that I don’t typically recognize. My half-done baby doll face twisted and turned as her words registered. “No school today,” she uttered with rightful anticipation for my totally underwhelming, not at all dramatic, response of, “What the? Nooooooo!!!!” Followed by a string of incomprehensible ramblings of a quickly overwhelmed teacher.
She spoke to me in her always even, calm voice and reassured me that my life was not coming to an end and that I should just enjoy the day off. Well, she knows me better than that but at least she gave it a good effort. We are alike in this way so she gets it; we just keep encouraging each other to do the impossible.
For one day I did slow down. For one day I paused in hell and looked around. For one day I worried about all the things I wish I could fix. For one day I hid under my blankets and cowered behind sappy movies so I wouldn’t remember that this means an extra day of testing next week, right before Spring Break AND returning to school on a Monday in June to end the school year. This “day off” felt like a slap in the face with a wet noodle.
I returned to school today back in the saddle, ready to shoot down this blasted assessment. I prepared myself for more tears (new Kleenex box), more performance anxiety (arsenal of kind, encouraging words), more freaked out kids (Stress Away essential oil) and, of course, more caffeine for the teacher just because I’m the boss and I said so. I did good. My kids did good. It seemed like they came in with the same kick-ass and take-names kind of attitude. We are walking through hell but we’re doing it together. We aren’t slowing down (unless there is labeling, organizing, or checking our work to be done) until we get through this.
I am certainly glad I am not dramatic or this week could really be a CCRAP show.