Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Testing and Tornadoes

Normally, I never look at SPAM that other teachers send me. My job is to help keep SPAM to a minimum. I am supposed to tell teachers that just because something is amusing or uplifting to them, the school division frowns upon it, and therefore it is bad. I take my job very seriously, right before I decide to ignore it. Yesterday, curiosity got the better of me and I had to look at the harmless non essential email contact in my inbox, and I am glad I did. The SPAM that was being passed around combined two things that the school system works very hard to make sure is perfect. Severe weather safety and state test taking measures.

The procedures for tornado drills are practiced every year by staff members and students. Everyone practices finding some place safe from the flying glass from windows and crouches down low covering their heads. All of this is done for a good reason. To protect everyone from the very real danger that nature poses to schools (the linked article happened very close to my school system just last week).

The security procedures (about halfway down the agreement) for the Virginia standards of learning (SOL) test rivals that of the toughest airport security. Scratch paper is handed out with tests and must be returned with each test when the test is finished, and shredded. Tests are locked up tight until right before testing begins, and only one person in the building is allowed to have the key. There must be a person in the classroom who simply watches the teacher giving the test. Students requiring bathroom breaks must be escorted to the bathroom and back to the classroom in total silence. Any test irregularities must be reported to the building administrator who in turn must notify his or her contact within the school division, who must then notify the state, who will then determine if the uncovered poster, without any SOL test questions on it, voids the entire set of tests...

Combined, these two procedures come together in a very funny way that really doesn't seem to be that far from what could be expected. The exception is that this email really shows what everyone has suspected to be the state’s major concern in schools. It took me to number three to realize that I was not reading something official. In my defense it was early and my coffee had not kicked in yet. I tried to track down where this came from but I had no success. It is just like SPAM to be difficult to track down...

Severe Weather Testing Protocols

1. Should a severe weather situation occur during testing, please remain calm. To display any kind of anxiety would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

2. Please do not look out the window to watch for approaching tornadoes. You must monitor the students at all times. To do otherwise would be a testing irregularity and must be reported.

3. Should students notice an approaching tornado and begin to cry, please make every effort to protect their testing materials from the flow of tears and sinus drainage.

4. Should a flying object come through your window during testing, please make every effort to ensure that it does not land on a testing booklet or an answer sheet. Please make sure to soften the landing of the flying object so that it will not disturb the students while testing.

5. Should shards of glass from a broken window come flying into the room, have the students use their bodies to shield their testing materials so that they will not be damaged. Have plenty of gauze on hand to ensure that no one accidentally bleeds on the answer documents. Damaged answer sheets will not scan properly.

6. Should gale force winds ensue, please have students stuff their test booklets and answer sheets into their shirts, being very careful not to bend them because bent answer documents will not scan properly.

7. If students gets sucked into the vortex of the funnel cloud, please make sure they mark at least one answer before departing and of course make sure they leave their answer sheets and test booklets behind. You will have to account for those.

8. Should a funnel cloud pick you up and take you flying over the rainbow, you will still be required to account for all of your testing materials when you land so please take extra precautions. Remember, once you have checked them out, they should never leave your hands.

9. When rescue workers arrive to dig you out of the rubble, please make sure that they do not, at any time, look at or handle the testing materials. Once you have been treated for your injuries, you will still be responsible for checking your materials back in. Search dogs will not be allowed to sift through the rubble for lost tests unless of course they have been through standardized test training.

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