Saturday, June 11, 2016

Standard Operating Procedure

Standardized test season has almost ended, but we do have a few re-take sessions on our school calendar for next week. Personally? I can't wait until it's all in the rear view.

This year, a phenomena that had me scratching my head a bit was all the students traipsing through the hallways with little fleece blankets draped over their heads and shoulders. Allowed by someone, but only on test days, I loathed the parade of clutched arms and hunched shoulders on the way to the test rooms each morning. It seemed the very definition of distraction. "It's so we can sleep when we finish our test," a student explained to me.

The sixth graders were denied the blankets, although some tried. "You don't need that for a test!" I heard more than one colleague remark. Still, I wondered if we were being curmudgeons. What harm could a blanket do?

Our school has a very diverse population of students, many of whom receive accommodations for their test. These special circumstances rang from the use of a bilingual dictionary to a human being reading the test out loud to a single student. Of course these measures are meant to level the playing field, so to speak, and more importantly, to ensure that the test is an accurate measure of each student's knowledge and skills in a particular content area.

There are rules about the accommodations, of course, the main one being that a student must have had access to and used them throughout the school year. The philosophy of such a policy is two-fold: students must demonstrate a need and a willingness to use their accommodations.

Now where does that leave blankets?

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