Preparing for and awaiting the results of State Achievement Tests are a lot like the processes of pregnancy and childbirth. It starts, just like pregnancy, with the anticipation and the preparations that must be made for the imminent arrival. Instead of getting our houses ready, teachers spend months getting our students’ minds ready for the plethora of information they are required to glean before the tests are administered. In your homes, this sometimes requires renovations and additions to make room for your little one. Those of us who work with children’s minds spend a lot of time doing the same thing. We often have to rip out and remove information or thought processes that will get in the way of the new information or processes they will need to be successful. As you parents tear down walls, we tear down bad habits and lazy attitudes. As you slap up wallpaper and paint, we slap up skills that will increase their arsenal of knowledge. This stage of pregnancy is a busy yet exciting time, and the same can be said of this stage of test preparation.
The final weeks of test prep are very similar to the final weeks of pregnancy. Like expectant mothers, we are tired and just want to see the fruits of our labors. Just as expectant mothers spend more time in their doctor’s office trying to predict how soon they will deliver their little bundle of joy, teachers fervently administer sample tests to predict if their students are ready to deliver as well. We, too, find it more difficult to sleep and find it harder to stay patient in the morning.
Finally, the long awaited labor pains begin. We watch in silent submission as it is finally and irrevocably out of our hands. Like mothers who simply have to trust in the capable hands of their obstetrician, we must trust in the hopefully capable heads of our students and the myriad bits of information we have painstakingly planted in their brains.
Here is where the analogy falls apart. Most parents are rewarded within a day (or for some poor souls a little longer) with a beautiful, healthy baby. They are able to find out the baby’s sex immediately (if they didn’t already know) and can count all the little fingers and toes. Teachers, on the other hand, are not done agonizing until weeks later when their delivery final arrives; the official test scores. The counting we do is a little different; it’s more about how many passed, who didn’t pass, and how close they were to passing, which standards need more focus, which skills need more practice. And if we are very fortunate, it’s time for a Congratulations sign on our front lawn and a good cigar.