For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, CSAP stands for Colorado State Assessment Program. Along with every other public school teacher in Colorado, I have the joy of proctoring these standardized tests. The job of a proctor is simple: maintain a standardized environment by reading directly from the script, pacing constantly around the room, and clinging tenaciously to sanity despite hours of boredom.
I’m lucky this year: my proctoring duties have diminished considerably compared with past testing seasons. Still, today’s four hour stretch was trying. Here’s a glimpse of what can happen inside the mind of a proctor during those tedious hours:
- Stuck in a math room again: there’s never anything interesting to read on the walls in the math rooms. Except, of course, a poster containing text that begins with “throughout history.” No wonder they never learn.
- Forgot my pocket rosary. I guess I don’t really need to keep track, but it’s so easy to get distracted when I don’t. Anyway, Hail Mary, full of….who is tapping their pencil? Who?
- WOULD I pass an 8th grade level science test? Do I really want to know the answer to that?
- The thing about Home that makes is so different from Gilead is that the characters are as reticent with the reader as they are with each other. Yes, that’s what makes me a little crazy about that book: everything is too delicate to be said directly, so readers share in Glory and Jack’s mutual discomfort.
- Not that there’s anything wrong with holding back a little. I guess we’re encouraged to adopt a habit of openness, emotionally or otherwise. I think I’m naturally a more reserved person, but people take offense at that sometimes. Limitless openness can destroy the few fragments of the sacred left in our lives, though.
- Dude, that kid needs to take out his earring. Can I interrupt his test-taking to point out a dress code infraction? Let it be? I’ll wait till the break.
- Storage bins: I’m going to need lots of plastic storage bins for the baby things once he outgrows the O-3 month clothes. Clear and stackable storage bins. I must have them. With blue lids, yes, my precious.
- Observed coping mechanisms once kids finish their work, but before their allotted reading time: pretending pencils are chopsticks, pretending pencils are people (fighting?), playing Cat’s Cradle with a necklace, balancing a pencil on the desk, fingertip, or another pencil, thorough inspection of nails and manicure, and….don’t do it….please, no….*sigh* nose-picking. Time for a round of hand sanitizer.
- It’s so quiet in here that every tiny sound is maddening. Must they scrape their test booklets across the desk? Must they fill in bubbles so rambunctiously? Must they BREATHE SO LOUDLY?
- Why is pacing so much more tiring than walking? I’m not really going anywhere, just shifting my (considerable) weight from one foot to another. My feet are swelling. There ought to be a special CSAP exemption for women in my condition. Oh well, I’ll make up for it by parking in the visitor slot.
- The math teacher who lives in this room left a box of Altoids on his desk: in the name of CSAP solidarity, he wouldn’t mind sharing one with me.
- Or two.
- Seven. Stop it! (Sorry, Pete)
- Eighth graders are so fidgety, especially when they’re required to sit silently and do nothing for twenty minutes…that one keeps tugging on his pant legs. Come to think of it, I do remember middle school as a season of life when my pants were never quite long enough. It’s probably even worse for Colorado teens: everything shrinks in this dry climate.
- Pediatrician! I need to find a pediatrician! But where? And how? Is it too late? I have to go to the bathroom!
- Hmm…I could definitely PASS an eighth grade science test, but I don’t think I would make anyone proud.
- The baby doesn’t like CSAPS. The baby is trying to get out. What if I go into labor during the testing period? Would that invalidate the tests?
- Okay, seriously, that kid is going to take out his earring now. Unless it’s a fresh piercing…what if blood gets on the booklet? Would that invalidate the test?
- Test? Validate me? Walking….bad.
And….it goes downhill from there. By the end of a day of CSAP proctoring, most teachers feel like this little guy. (Stay tuned: he really does go for the banana)