This week, kids in grades 3, 4, and 5 are taking state English language arts exams. On Monday, Ruben, a teacher in the Bronx, said the preparations were getting him down. He wrote:

I spent the afternoon readying my classroom for tomorrow’s ELA exam. That meant covering or taking down a dozen or so charts for strategies like making predictions, using non-fiction text features and understanding cause and effect. I couldn’t stop there however. I needed to eliminate any thing that could be used for help on the ELA exam. So, next came down the class rules, the writing process, my science, social studies and math word walls, directions for early finishers, and how to make an “I statement”.

The paper I was supplied to cover up my classroom had run out, and I still had to cover my alphabet. I found a roll of paper towels and began rolling it across the letters, pinning as I went. It was at this point that the absurdity of the whole exercise – more or less deconstructing four months evidence of learning – sunk in, and revealed itself as a ridiculous metaphor for the next three days of testing my students will undergo. All of my class’s learning across all content areas has been slowly subsumed by these standardized exams. Now even the physical representation of that learning has been overtaken by the tests as well.