Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The MEAP 2009

“At any time the state may come out to monitor the MEAP. If there are any transgressions in the protocol and administrations the district could be fined” (punished).These statements were made at our teacher prep meeting prior to the statewide administration of our standardized test. The MEAP.

Fear invoked…mine matches the students. I have to get this right. That is how it is with fear.

I have filled out the coding of the names incorrectly. Our teacher consultant kindly rectified my mistake. My students have no such recourse with their missteps.

In my Special Ed classroom of Emotionally Impaired children the students were individually tested in the spring and on the average demonstrated skills that were one to two years below grade level. Rather than addressing this deficit two weeks of instructional time are put aside to participate in the MEAP. The test not only evaluates the child but is used as a measure of the schools (AYP) adequate yearly progress.(We will not discuss the cultural bias of these test , even though one year it spoke of the Soo Locks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The students’ frame of reference locks are the dead bolts on the front door)

So for four days I gather a group of special need sixth graders, corral them into my classroom for this sacrosanct event. The MEAP. The fifty page manual is explicit in the procedures of how to administer the test. Only number two pencils. No one but a certified teacher can give the test. No cell phones. Cover bulletin boards that might give information to the students. The tone in the building is funereal. The students like young souls in an unfamiliar church are restrained and rigid. The event heavy with pomp.

Thus begins the MEAP. Once I have read the children the directions no questions can be answered or assistance given. Sighs ,exasperated breathing, muttering, obsessively filling in the circle with pencil number two till lead is flattened then the inevitable hand “ I cannot read this” ( I had done a reading assessment on this child who was taking a fifth grade MEAP but read on a second grade level )“ Sorry no questions.” To let myself off the hook I hear myself saying “I am sorry but the government won’t let me help you “Here I am their teacher who has spent the first six weeks of the school year quelling their fears about reading. Progress is doomed if we cannot transcend their fear of failure and their print phobia. Now I abandon them at this very terrifying juncture. “I am sorry I cannot help”

No longer do they look fearful, but have this piercing look of betrayal, like if you cannot help me what kind of teacher are you?

So goes the MEAP. I am weary, in the way that one gets when splitting their body in a crisis. The students spent chew on their post MEAP snack muttering. One student says audibly “It was a difficult and hard situation. “ These words haunt the classroom. The classroom tainted. The sacred relationship (think Socrates, Annie Sullivan, Mr. Chips, Frank McCourt,) tarnished. I blame the government. The students blame me.

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