"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Friday, February 25, 2011

CSAP and Be Fit

The Colorado Student Assessment Program is upon us. Both my wife and I have proctored this standardized exam in Colorado schools every Spring for over ten years. We've noticed that since the CSAP began, the Powers-That-Be have become more strict about the rules and regulations around proctoring.

The benefits of standardized testing are plentiful.
As a CSAP proctor, you may not read a book, grade papers, check email (or even turn on a computer), sit down, or stand still.

You must collect all cell phones, headphones, gramophones, and homophones (no student should have an advantage by knowing the difference between their, there, and they're). Leave the door open and actively proctor, like the giant head in the old Apple Macintosh commercial. This means watching over the students' shoulders and making sure there are no stray marks outside of the oval.

Clearly, the proctors' time is on loan from the state, and you are supposed to act only for the benefit of the students. We know this can be difficult. Most teachers use their short workdays for personal deviations, like playing computer solitaire or writing a will, and the CSAP requirements can put a serious dent in those pursuits. Thus we have devised a five step fitness program to keep your bodies and minds active during those long hours of testing.

Step One: Weightlifting. This begins before the students ever arrive. After you pick up your basket of materials--test booklets, calculators, boxes of pencils, snacks, spray bottles for spritzing droopy-eyed students in the face--from the administration office, you can perform simple curls to work your biceps or lift the bulky basket over your head to work your delts or do power squats to work your buns of steel. Once you have distributed the test booklets, however, these exercises are no longer an option.

Step Two: Cardio. Once the assessment has begun, the easiest way to work up a sweat is with laps around the room. Make sure the desks are distributed so as to create a pathway that will pass by every student. With every lap you complete, not only are you observing each student's progress, but you're also getting a great cardio workout. Don't be afraid to work the hurdles. Backpacks, purses, and students' legs are natural obstacles to leap over for even more strenuous exercise. Or you can make a game of it: see how many laps you can accomplish in an hour, then try to break that record.

Step Three: Eat right. Some schools will give students a hearty breakfast of packaged cheese and crackers with a four ounce juice box. If your school springs for such a feast, take full advantage. Eat two or even three (if that many students do not show up to take the test) packages of crackers, but don't make the rookie mistake of drinking more than one carton of juice. Within an hour you'll be wishing there were a latrine in the corner of the room because you are not allowed to leave the students alone with the tests. Given a break between tests, eat a snack of pretzels and an apple, followed by a peppermint to keep your breath fresh for those close-up whispers with the student who thinks 13 minutes is an adequate amount of time to finish a 60 minute math test.

If your school does not provide refreshments or the provisions supplied are not enough to keep your energy up after four hundred laps, you might try #2 pencil shavings or unused test booklets for a good source of lead and fiber.

Step Four: Exercise your mind.  You can execute several simple calculations in your head while actively proctoring. Keep your mind nimble by counting student absences and creating ratios of absent students to present students to successful students. You can maintain stats on the average time taken on each test, analyzing how sleeping after a test will affect performance on the next one. Or if you're right-brained, you can begin the Great American Novel you've always wanted to write--in your head!

Step Five: Reflexes. This last step is only suggested as a last resort. As a teacher, you might not have enough time during the school day to complete your assigned work load because you have 163 students and only 92 minutes every day in which to plan, you can build some reflex skills for use on the racquetball court by avoiding getting caught grading papers when an administator walks in. Carry a clipboard. Grade standing up. Wear camouflage. Listen carefully: the open door is your ally. When you hear someone in the hallway, continue your laps and active proctoring as if you never were doing anything otherwise. On the off chance that an administrator actually does enter your room, you're showing proficiency as a CSAP proctor.

Teachers, use these tips to keep your mind engaged and your body vigorous because, as Count Rugan says, if you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything.

1 comment:

  1. We have TAKS out here, not CSAP. Obviously the rules weren't as strict for the teachers at my school. They generally read while we took our tests. I like your suggestions, though.