Today my students took a diagnostic test that is designed to show their strengths and weaknesses in reading and writing. Our state standardized test is only a couple of months away, and I was feeling some heat. Not about the real test, mind you, but about administering this practice exam. The reading specialist in the building really wanted me to do it, and so finally I just caved.
The test itself is on online thing, and I already had the lap tops reserved for some other activities, so I figured I could snag an extra day with the computers and then just casually slide this 40 question diagnostic onto our to-do list...
Oh the disbelief and outrage my students expressed at me, a workshop-committed reading and writing teacher, requiring such an inside-the-box task of them. "How will this make us better writers?" one asked, echoing my guiding question for the year.
Touché, I thought, but then answered him. "It won't," I said. "It will just show us what kind of readers and writers you are. It's what we do with that information that might help you."
He was mollified, but I really wasn't. In any event, they took the test, and most of them did fine. I was amused at some of their questions, though. One kid raised his hand about halfway through. "How am I supposed to answer this?" he wanted to know. "It's an opinion question! It says What do you think would be the best way to end this passage?" He scoffed. "You could end it lots of ways!"
Before he got any further worked up about his right as an author to finish his piece any way he saw fit, I tried to quiet him. "But which of those answers would be the best ending?" I asked him.
"Oh," he tsked. "What a dumb question. Like anyone's going to give you that choice."