No Walk in the PARCC

Professional development at its’ best

on a Friday afternoon

the little ones long gone

and we are huddled for a meeting

preparing for PARCC tests

next week.

My brain is drained

my bones are tired

and my spirit lags

knowing we’ve spent all year


focusing on vigor,


and voice.

Only now to test 



’til death do them part.

With rules upon rules

and secure measures taken

ensuring chain-of-custody

for the sacred tests.

No teacher reading

No books

No grading

No reading

Just hover









I crave,




and the opportunity






I crave





of jamming thermometers

into students

to measure

and test

and collect data

precious data

profitable data

that can be used

to tell

whatever story

they want



and teachers

and failed schools,

while charging us 

for the privilege.

I crave 

a reset

on learning

on schools

on the narrative of teachers.

Once heroes

now saddled

and blamed

at what expense?

41 thoughts on “No Walk in the PARCC

  1. Pingback: Speak Life in the PARCC | Dash – Life Between the Numbers

  2. You have eloquently captured the heart and voice of so many educators! Truth flowing in a poetic river! Your post made me think of Seuss and Prelutsky’s Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. I may need to go read that now 😉


  3. Pingback: Testing Timer of Oz | Reflections on the Teche

  4. This. Is. Beautiful. As you maybe noticed, I had to take a break from Twitter, but I am so glad that I happened to see this anyway. Every word of this is so true. So heartbreakingly true. I am lucky to know you and your students are so lucky to have you speaking up for them. We do this job and we carry these burdens and we gain so much by sharing that with this world. Thank you for this.


  5. Who knew that Thin Mints and Coke could produce such brilliance!!?!? Clearly the world needs more cookies and soda. All kidding aside, this is a brilliant statement on the state of education today. It’s raw, honest, yet eloquent and thoughtful. Thanks for continuing to share your blog with me! I’m really enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post brought me to tears. It is raw and honest and open about the career that I chose, the job that I do, and the children I love– and how it has become so hard and heart-breaking so much of the time. Time with the students is magical– especially when I can close my door and focus on the teaching and learning. As soon as I walk into the workroom, begin browsing Facebook, or pick up a newspaper though – all of what is difficult about this work slams into me, and I wonder how many more hits I (we-teachers) can take.

    I especially love how you say:
    “to measure
    and test
    and collect data
    precious data
    profitable data
    that can be used
    to tell
    whatever story
    they want
    and teachers
    and failed schools,…”

    I, too, crave a reset. Thank you for expressing so much of what I’m feeling…. I hope it gets better–for all of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wasn’t walking in the PARCC, but I was ISTEP ping, which is Indiana’s test. You have said so many things that are true, sad, right on and wrong. We are stuffing them with testing thermometers. I don’t know the answer but I sure wish someone would fix it. I hope you feel better after “venting”, I mean slicing with this post! 🙂 Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a grade 3 teacher in Ontario for many years (15+) I was forced to give my students the EQAO test every May.(what a gift!) The politics of testing is absurd, destructive, damaging. One student’s comment from early in the testing cycle still resonates “But you’re a teacher – you’re supposed to help!” I refused to teach to the test as so many of Ontario teachers did. My main goal was to instill a love of reading and that was paramount. Another student’s words still resonate after hearing a harrowing scene while I was reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” (sorry – spoiler alert!) – “No she can’t die!”, with tears. This was an intellectually challenged student who could always retell the chapter/story when asked and always was so involved. No she couldn’t do the test and yet she was always drawn into stories and recognized the humanity in them.
    Sorry – you touched a nerve. The politics of teaching is what ultimately caused me to retire. I still miss those times of connection when I read aloud.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your poem so wonderfully depicts the madness of our teaching lives….I felt scared reading it…and I feel scared so often as I want the stress roll through out hallways.


  10. You have nailed my sentiments exactly. OMG! I can’t even speak about it because I just don’t know what to say. You say it here. With such potent vocabulary, sacred tests, thermometer, at whose expense. Really!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was really moved by this. I think that teachers need to reflect on how this makes us feel. We aren’t being asked to teach more, just assess more. How can data change without teaching? It’s just bad thinking. It’s like a land of alcoholics. The data is their liquor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Right there with you. We had two inservices this week (I refuse to call them professional development). One on ethics (which we supposedly need every time we give a different test, which seems like it’s every two weeks this year) and one from PARCC. And now we are facing another one on Monday on how to log on and use all of the computer stuff, so we can do the actual test on Tuesday. BLEAH! You have captured it perfectly.


  13. Clearly your post struck a chord with all of us. Poetically speaking I loved the one word per line structure that literally pulled me down the page. Thank you for sharing and for putting into words how so many of us feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your title brought me here but your words fill me with sadness because I know it’s true. You’ve obviously struck a nerve and a cheering audience. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I sent this to Diane Ravitch. She wants your permission to post. Please check email.

    I read this with fondness for you and horror for all of us, teachers and our beautiful children. Really, how much more can we all take?

    My heart is broken and I am exhausted.

    Those in charge (district, state, federal and all the edudilettantes) who never mastered the art of teaching need to step aside and find a new hobby.

    They are destroying our profession and our schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I could have written this post because it reflects my thoughts exactly. There are students who I know will never “pass” the test, but I know in my heart will be successful in life and a contributor to society. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t measure my heart.


  17. Yes, yes, yes. Beautifully stated. I went for a walk in the PARCC this week. Another walk next week. And this is my fist clenching moment:

    “profitable data that can be used to tell whatever story they want about students and teachers
    and failed schools, while charging us for the privilege.”

    And I wonder what will become of PARCC in a year, two years, five years … will we still be living this madness in education? And all that money. Makes me sick.


  18. So powerful whether or not PARCC is the instrument of torture. Here in PA, they’ve devised their own month long marathon. That you didn’t intend to write this just shows how important it is. Donald Murray said we all have two or three really important topics in us. For teachers, this is it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well said. Two tests in and still overally frustrated with it all on so many levels. Just let us teach. Just let them learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. We’re in the middle of PARCC testing – finished 6th grade – and since I teach all the gifted 5th & 6th grade readers in my building, my schedule is changed for 12 days (and will be again in April/May). My non-negotiables, independent reading & reading aloud, those things that bring literacy joy to my students, are put on hold. Technology glitches, stress, and wasted instruction time abound. Heartbreaking. I know I need to write about this eventually, but it’s really hard for me. Your post gives me courage to tackle it one of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny thing is, I had no intention to write about PARCC. I have a list of 30+ ideas to blog about, and it is nowhere on the list. I actually sat down to “lift a line” from a post by Kendra Limback. I titled my post, “Thin Mints & Coke”, and began to write about staff meeting that fictionally ended with these as refeshments.
      Apparently my frustrations with PARCC bubbled over, and flowed freely, overtaking what was meant to be a fun post!

      I guess sometimes the piece writes itself!


  21. Cripes … this is what our profession is coming, too, right? Madness is the word I would reach for, too. Your poem strikes a strong chord, and I say that with respectful regret.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tomorrow I’ll be posting an idea for a innovative, collaborative posts. I hope it intrigues you! I’m looking for a few people that might be interested in writing a collaborative piece, either with me, or with another writing friend.


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