Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quiet, testing in progress...flatulance allowed

A better part of my free daytime hours last week was spent as a TM.

That's Test Monitor to the untrained.

The Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests (OCCT) are part of the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) testing that instigated a few years ago. The third grade tests consist of Math and Reading with the students writing their answers in the actual test booklet (no scantron answer sheets just yet).

My job as TM consisted basically of making sure the teachers don't cheat. That's right, I was responsible for each and every test booklet that was handed out to the class of which I was assigned.

I was instructed not to let a single booklet out of my sight for fear that 1) a test booklet would go missing and end up for sale on eBay, 2) a rogue teacher would fill in the answers for a more academically challenged student and 3) the costs involved with the scandal that would ensue had a booklet ended up in the "wrong" hands, not to mention the financial end of reprinting and retesting test booklets was enough to warrant a full-time test booklet monitor.

Pretty easy duty for a casual observer, who knew and trusted the teacher that I was assigned to monitor. But given that I was not to talk to the teacher or any student during the actual testing, nor was I to answer any questions related to the testing in any way, my shining personality and sparkling school volunteer demeanor had little bearing on my time spent in-classroom.

A few observations on the third graders over whom I lorded over via test booklet monitoring for those three days (I'll reserve my opinion on standardized testing and the whole "No child left behind" issue for a more appropriate forum)...
  • Yawning for third-graders is dangerously contagious, and seems to run in sets of three.

  • I can see why Ticonderoga pencils are favored amongst test monitors. Their hexagonal design with six equally flat surface areas provide for fewer pencil desk roll-offs than the rounded-type available in bulk through the Oriental Trading catalog.

  • Almost across the board, the girls finished the reading sections first, while the boys finished the math first.

  • Out of 17-students, I counted 6 southpaws. This seemed like a higher than normal average of righties-to-lefties to me, but I left my statistician hat back in my college statistics 210 class, so who knows.

  • Student farting is more prevalent than one might think in a classroom of 17 third graders. And while the students were so focused on their tests that they were seemingly unaffected by the momentary passing of the gas by their fellow test takers, us mature Test Monitor's weren't so fortunate as the suppression of silly, immature giggles was borderline painful to endure.
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