A Delicate Dance

I spend hours building and then double-triple-quadruple-checking the document.

Each grade level—third, fourth, fifth.

Each content area—English/Language Arts, Math, Science.

Each accommodation and accessibility feature for each child who needs one—specified, color-coded, and carefully grouped according to which (and who) can be in the same room. 

This year, the added layer of separate testing times and groups for students who are still learning remotely.

I experience some minor acid reflux as I do the math: Do we actually have enough extra adults to proctor and enough spaces in our building to make this happen? 

I’ve choreographed this delicate dance for many years. It is easily the least favorite part of my job, but it is necessary—and essential to do it right so that state testing goes smoothly. (Even in a pandemic year when we should NOT be testing, in my humble opinion.) 

I do one final check, and I send it out for teachers to look over. 

Within minutes, a response comes in. “Are we allowed to mix cohorts?” 

My reaction—alone in my classroom on a teacher work day with no kids in the building—has been censored. 

I thank the teacher for her eagle eye. And I am grateful to have a chance to solve this problem today, as opposed to on testing day.

Every day in the month of March I’m blogging with the team at Two Writing Teachers Blog as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join us!


  1. glenda funk

    Well, no need to censor, Amy, given colorful language has been elevated in the challenge this year. 😉
    My opinion about testing is not at all humble. High stakes tests are an abomination. They are a tool to destroy public education. They are classist and racist. This year of all years is the perfect opportunity to kill the snake, but nope, politicians and the anti-education crowd want to torture kids and teachers. This gets my blood boiling. I taught 20 years w/out these awful tests, and students learned. I learned w/out the scourge of testing as we know it. I’ve been speaking out against high stakes testing since I was a sophomore in high school and wrote an oratory for competition on this topic. That was 1974-75. I’m old.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. edifiedlistener

    “I do one final check, and I send it out for teachers to look over.

    Within minutes, a response comes in. “Are we allowed to mix cohorts?” ”
    Superbly crisp storytelling! The build up to this moment was pitch perfect. I, like you, wanted to believe that all the boxes had been ticked. Thank you for pulling me into your situation with such aplomb.


  3. mschiubookawrites

    IMHO, I agree with you about state testing. And of COURSE there will be details we forget no matter how meticulous we are. The plate is so full it is toppling over. Sigh. Despite the topic, I really enjoyed how you wrote about the moment, slowing it down, and then the censored reaction. The first time standardized testing made me chuckle.


  4. carwilc

    This is a job I would never ever want, nor would I be able to do it!!! Thank heaven for people like you!!! And for colleagues with sharp eyes!


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