Standardized test answer

Today our Grade 10 students wrote the standardized literacy test they must pass in order to graduate from high school. I supervised the extended time room and silently cheered them on as they worked. I cannot encourage or help them, but I can smile, wink and even pray. I also peeked at some of the questions. I cannot share the prompts here, but I can share two of my own answers…

Short answer response (6 lines provided):

I can swiftly and easily respond to inane prompts. I can generate a story for any question no matter how banal, pull semi-believable facts willy-nilly from the air, and find the perfect example for even the most general of queries, all while employing the Oxford comma. I can write complete sentences, including participial phrases cleverly separated from a main clause with commas for extra points. I can vary sentence length. I can repress my desperate longing to throw in an effective sentence fragment for style; I can restrain myself because, above all,  I possess the skill of passing standardized tests.
(exactly 6 lines in Google Docs)

Opinion response – maximum two handwritten pages.
I’ve done a sneaky poetic response because
a) it’s Poetry month and
b) I don’t actually want to write a one page response to the question and
c) one of my students worked tirelessly on this one, and my heart broke a little for her.

Standardized Test Opinion Response – a Golden Shovel Poem

She flexes her tired hand then gets back to work, suddenly knowing that no matter what she does
Today in the library, tonight she will do the homework
Assigned by the teacher who looked her in the eyes and said, “You can improve,
You will improve” then gave her harder work because she is learning.

18 thoughts on “Standardized test answer

  1. Oh, how I wish I’d thought to do this while I proctored our recent ridiculous testing. Nothing like having a constructed response question using arcane words that stump students and leave them feeling lost and inadequate…UGH. I wish I’d thought to pour some of that energy into a poem!


  2. I love this, even though your response did not restate the original question within your topic sentence. Poor form. I really love responses that ARE the example for the points within. I love the varied sentence lengths.
    And no fragments. Well played. Isn’t it ridiculous that when we evaluate young writers, we penalize them for doing things that professional writers consider essential? Then there are the test hacks that we are supposed to receive with gratitude. An administrator at our school coached us to encourage the use of multisyllabic words, because they get kids extra points.


  3. I sometimes wish I could tell kids that the school year’s over as soon as test-taking is over! It will be my daughter’s first year taking state assessments and she is more than nervous about it.
    I loved your test response though! So very clever! Thanks for this fun twist on test-taking!


  4. “I can repress my desperate longing to throw in an effective sentence fragment for style”, and I’m cracking up over here. It’s really difficult to teach kids…”well, once you become a writer, you can break all the rules…and, if you’re really good at breaking the rules as a writer, just don’t try to do it on a standardized test…” Sigh. Your smiles and winks go a long way with the kiddos, I’m sure. I’m going to put this on my list of things I’ll miss about teaching abroad-no standardized testing!


  5. Great use of your time! I have spent (wasted, let’s be honest) many hours monitoring students during state testing. It’s painful but sometimes sprinkled with an occasional exciting moment here and there when a few students experience a sense of accomplishment at the completion of a long test. (Still not worth it though in my opinion)


  6. This made me laugh out loud. It is so true. I love your use of ‘nonverbal’ encouragements. Isn’t it so true that this is what we do?! Always trying to encourage without words (sad!)


  7. You are so spot on!! Smile.YES! Wink.YES! Pray.YES! And I love your 6-line satire! I wonder what future generations will write about the test gods of education. We have all been enslaved. Our students must lay aside their creativity in order to bow before the test gods each year. IF they don’t, they cannot take one step forward. And teachers are told serve the gods first, before the students. These gods have names — PARCC, SMARTER-B, STAAR, SAT. I recently learned that all Idaho juniors are required to take the SAT and their schools are measured by the results. Really?! I read last night that the STAAR reading passages have been analyzed and found to be two grade levels above the level being tested… research sources were named in the article but I haven’t followed them up.


  8. Your last response seems so sad to me. It reminds me of a baby learning to walk. When she takes her first faltering steps, we don’t shout, “Now run a marathon to get better!”

    I wonder about all the testing we are doing “to” our children. It is so stressful and, because of that stress, doesn’t always give an accurate representation of their knowledge and skill.


  9. It breaks my heart that SPED students have to take these mind-bending tests. Ugh.
    I love your snarky response, but you must know I’d fail you if you did not use the Oxford comma! 😉


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