To Bubble, or Not to Bubble….

That is the question this week and next, as schools administer rafts of mandated bubble tests and parents ponder whether to opt-out their children.  As we know, American students are the most tested in the world…because our system uses tests primarily to punish and reward teachers, not to assess and improve student learning.  My views, with apologies to Robert Frost, are below


Something there is that doesn’t love more bubble tests

And students bubbling and learning how to bubble

When they might be making robots or reading Frost.

They take test upon test in dead classrooms,

Mixing memory and guesswork, stirring

Dull anger and gnawing fears of failure.

The work of test-makers is another thing:

Teachers come after them and make repair

Where they have ground down creativity.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill,

And on a day we meet to walk and talk

Of learning, testing and hopes for children.

But we keep a wall between us as we go.

To him, this is just another kind of mental game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

Now is when we do not need more tests, I tell him.

He only says, ‘More testing makes good education.’

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

‘Why do they make good education? Isn’t it

Where they are timely and used to help?

But here the tests punish takers and givers alike.

Before I gave more bubble tests, I’d ask to know

What I was I testing for, and why,

And to whom I was like to do harm.

Something there is that doesn’t love bubble tests,

That wants them stopped.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself.  I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘More testing makes good education.’

4 thoughts on “To Bubble, or Not to Bubble….

  1. “More testing makes good education”?
    Huh, I don’t think so.
    I have said this on other blogs, but we used to raise beef cattle. We did not buy big scales and weigh them all the time, expecting that this would cause them to put on weight. You have to feed them properly and treat them properly.
    What is the point of all this testing if it is not to improve student learning, letting the teachers and the parents know what the kids answered and where they need improvement?
    But no, they don’t do that. It’s just to punish schools and teachers, make money for the educational-industrial complex, and get rid of public schools and teachers unions so they can open more charter schools and give more vouchers to private schools.
    Schools are not pizza parlors, and should not be treated like any business.


    • You understand that this is also my point. Just as Frost in his poem uses the neighbor, whom he describes as ‘an old stone age savage, as the reflexive defender of all walls, I’m using him as the unthinking advocate of more and more testing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, John, exactly.
        We are not doing the students any favors by this relentless testing regime. Exactly the opposite. 😟


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