Monday, April 18, 2016

13 Ways of Looking at a Standardized Test

In honor of National Poetry Month
and with apologies to Wallace Stevens

Among 173 days of learning,
The next two
Are given over to state-wide standardized tests.

I have mixed feelings,
Like a desk
Cluttered with forms for three standardized tests.

The standardized test flickered on screen.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A student and a teacher
Are one.
A student and a proctor and a standardized test
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,  
The beauty of assessing  
Or the beauty of reflecting,  
The standardized test loading  
Or just after.

Fluorescent bulbs filled the room  
With garish glare.
The pall of standardized tests  
Hung low, near the floor.
The mood  
On most students' faces
An indecipherable stare.  

O thin men of Pearson,  
Why do you imagine gilded technology?  
Do you not see how standardized tests  
Tangle among the feet  
Of the learners about you?  

I know noble keystrokes  
And lucid, inescapable creativity;  
But I know, too,  
That standardized tests are involved  
In what I know.

When the standardized test flew out of sight,  
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.  

At the sight of standardized tests  
Beaming their blue glow,  
Even bawds of big-data debauchery  
Would cry out sharply.  

Students flung thoughts into servers
Via fiber-optic wifi.  
Once, a fear pierced them,  
In that they mistook
The shadow of their wildest guess  
For the best answer on a standardized test.  

The stomach is grumbling.  
The standardized test must be ending.  

It was evening all afternoon.  
It was snowing  
And it was going to snow.  
The standardized test sat  
In the Internet-nodes.


  1. "O thin men of Pearson," "The stomach is grumbling," and "Even bawds of big-data debauchery Would cry out sharply." So many haunting lines in your 13 ways of looking at a standardized test.

  2. This broke my heart a bit. Like Ramona, I love those lines.

  3. This broke my heart a bit. Like Ramona, I love those lines.

  4. This is incredible! Love your creativity!

  5. This is great! We are testing all week long this week so I can relate.

  6. O thin men of Pearson was one of my fave lines too! We don't get to testing until the end of May. I am just pretending that it isn't going to happen, ever.

  7. I think using Roman Numerals gave your slice even more meaning. This was a serious piece of writing that I wish you never had to scribe--although, it was great to be on the reading end of it!