Friday, April 30, 2010

Standardized Test Improvements

Today at school, we took the state mandated minimum skills test. Yes, we are tested on the minimum we can do. Really setting our sights high, aren’t we? “Let’s see if you can walk three steps without falling down. Hooray, you did it! Congratulations, you can go to the next grade.”
So how do high achieving students like myself, who are rare granted, get rewarded? By being bored out of our heads with dumb tests and poorly worded questions. Being the kind of guy I am, I took the essay writing portion as an opportunity to help the testers with a few suggestions. The following is my response to this year’s expectedly stupid prompt : “Who has had the biggest impact on your life.”

The person who has the biggest impact on my life is my mom. Basically all kids should answer their parents. See, we’re 12, so we can’t get jobs, so if our parents didn’t pay for us, we’d be down at the hobo camp eating cold beans out of a jagged tin can, trying to pretend a rat can be a pet, and getting a nick-name that reflected our poor hygiene, like “Stinky Pits Sam” or “Halitosis Hal.”
Duh. Who comes up with these stupid prompts? Have you all ever met a kid?
Since your questions are so lacking, I’m going to use the rest of my space with some suggestions. Your welcome in advance and feel free to acknowledge my contributions to future test takers.

- Why are we still being asked questions about trains leaving and arriving on the math test? First of all, the schedules are always posted. Secondly, this hasn’t been relevant in about 8 decades. Come and join us in the 21st century.
- And what’s with the safety questions on the science test? If someone hasn’t enough sense not to look into a beaker being heated, maybe we should let him have a little peek, you know, for society’s benefit.
- Finally, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have someone familiar with the English language write the directions? Maybe send him down to a basic grammar class at the Adult Continuing Education courses they have at the “Y” on Saturdays. Here is an actual testing manual quote read to us before the test : “Does anyone have any questions about bubbling in their answer document.” Wow, and you are testing us.
o First of all, how could anyone have a question about bubbling? The only prerequisite is having an opposable thumb, which includes most humans and primates (see drawing)

o Secondly, “anyone” is singular so needs a singular antecedent, “his or her answer document. Geesh, this is pretty basic stuff, state mandated minimum skills test writer.
Yet when I point these problems out during the test, I’m the one who gets the “isolated testing” accommodation. I’d like to see in the manual where that is described. I think Mr. Cooper just made it up. You might want to investigate him.
Thus concludes the most helpful standardized essay ever.
Thaddeus A. Ledbetter esq. (soon to be)
(all rights reserved)

Friday, April 2, 2010

April Unpractical Liars Day

Well, I think April 1st is another holiday terribly misnamed. Actually, I guess it's not a holiday, more of a day where it's socially acceptable to lie and mislead.

Yesterday in my math class, Mrs. Dixon (who had some doughnut glaze on her chin, which really isn't part of the story, but, geesh, it happens so often it's becoming her signature look) came in and announced that we were having a major test on calculus, and if we didn't pass, we couldn't go on next week's field trip.

Of course, I pointed out that we had not been given worksheets for calculus yet (Mrs. Dixon thinks teaching is handing out worksheets) so the poor test results would reflect her bad teaching, oh, and that she had doughnut on her chin.

After rudely ignoring me, Mrs. Dixon shouts "April Fool's Day! There's no test. I fooled you all with a practical joke!" and started doing that creepy squeal laugh she does.

What? How is lying a joke? It's just bad information. How is that funny? Where's the punchline or witty observation? Aren't joke supposed to make people laugh, not worry unneccessarily?

And how is it practical? Doesn't "practical "mean "useful or capable of being done"? A big fat lie isn't useful. A good practical joke would be cleaning my room while telling amusing anecdotes. That would be useful and funny.

Another example where I have to clean up the mess you adults have made.