We just finished MAP testing (NWEA anyone?) today and at supper tonight, Budge brought up a painful, but now side-splittingly hilarious story centering around my second year as a librarian and my first year as school MAP testing head person in charge. I thought I would regale you with this so the next time you feel you’ve done something foolish . . . well, let’s just say you probably don’t have a section in your district’s policy manual named after you.
I do. Here’s why, and this story is not only true, but is verifiable and documented.
Now I’m not crazy about MAP because it keeps my library tied up for four weeks out of the year, but the district says we have to give it and I like living in a house and driving a car, so I find it behooves me to do what the district says do. Anyway, it was two years ago and we’d just finished the math portion of MAP for the day. My buddy, David, stopped by my office and was mentioning how one of his honors seventh graders had just blown the top out of the math test. Then he asked the question that started the whole saga.
As an aside, I’d like for you to notice the first sign of danger. Here are two MEN discussing something. What is about to happen next would NEVER have happened if two women or even a woman and a man had been discussing the same thing we were discussing, the practical, intelligent side of the woman would have prevented the chaos that occured next. Think of boys and girls playing. Boys just grab the vine and swing on it. Girls ponder if the vine is attached to something stable, if the landing site is clear, etc. That’s why you don’t see NEARLY as many girls wearing casts in the lower grades as you do boys. Boys are afflicted by the SLAGIATT syndrome. That’s short for “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” Sadly, many boys never grow out of the SLAGIATT stage and so leave the world with the time-honored catchphrase “Hey, y’all, watch this.”
In any event, David, as I said, was remarking on the student’s exceptional score when he turned to me and said, “Is there any way you could put me in the MAP system so I could take the test? I’d like to see how I’d do.” I said, “Sure thing,” and I proceeded to use my credentials as the MAP TAA person to create a seventh grade version of David complete with a schedule, birthday, and G/T placement.
As you are reading this, please understand . . . no planning was involved AT ALL. David just asked me a question and I was rather curious about the same thing and since I had the ability to do what he asked, I did it. After all, it wasn’t PACT (our state’s NCLB qualifier) or CTBS or Iowa or something like that. Sonia, our guidance counselor, didn’t lock the codes to MAP up in her office and threaten everyone within an inch of their lives if her door was disturbed. Shoot, we didn’t even have to sign anything before administering MAP . . . well, we didn’t until all this happened anyway. Remember that section in the District Operation Manual?
So, little seventh grade Davy sat down at a nearby terminal and proceeded to rack up a tremendous string of correct questions. At one point, I even noticed sweat on his brow and about halfway through the test he called for scratch paper. I sat at his side, thrilled at his obvious skill in math (though why anyone with such awesome skill in math would teach instead of making a mint in engineering or something is beyond me) and absorbing every detail of his classic struggle of man vs. machine. Along about question 38 though, Apollo stumbled and the screen went from second level differential equations down to addition. David got one wrong. In the end though, he scored twenty point higher than his genius student had and we both went back to our work with a warm and satisfied feeling of accomplishment and didn’t think another thing about our little experiment.
Then, a full four weeks later, I got a call on my office intercom / phone. Our principal wanted to see me in her office. No biggie. I told the secretary I’d be right there, saved what I was doing on the computer and sauntered on up to the front. I should have panicked when David came out of her office looking like Death on a stick with buttercream frosting. He looked at me and shook his head. I had no idea what was going on so like a little lamb to the slaughter, I went into the principal’s office.
Folks, it’s never good to get called to the principal’s office. Even if you’re 35 and have been teaching for years. Nothing good is going to come of that summons.
So I walked in and sat down in one of the nice burgundy faux leather chairs across from my boss-lady and that’s when I noticed the other chair in the room was occupied by Ms. C, our District Testing Director. She is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met with a bone dry wit and a perfectly no nonsense attitude. I smiled at her. She nodded. The gazelle still did not sense the cheetah crouching in the savannah grasses.
Ms. C asked, “Mr. Wham, did you put David into the MAP system so that he could take the MAP test?” Not thinking anything was seriously wrong enough to justify even an attempt at a lie, I confidently smiled and said, “Yes, ma’am, and he did great on the test.” I guess it should have been a bad sign when both women dropped their heads into their hands and rubbed their temples.
When my principal looked up, she asked me, “Why did you do that?” I replied, perfectly without malice since I STILL didn’t see anything bad up ahead, “Well, he wanted to take the test and it seemed perfectly logical to me for him to try.” Mrs. M, my principal, said, “Explain what happened, in detail.” So I launched into a thirty minute explanation of what David and I had done with the math MAP.Two heads back into four hands again. More temple rubbing.
It was then that Ms. C fixed me with a withering stare and educated me at length about the ramifications and repercussions of what I had done. Seems that I, in cahoots with David, had corrupted the district’s data gathering, thrown off several tracking initiatives, violated district policy, flushed a grant opportunity down the drain and apparently very nearly caused the polar ice caps to melt and the Apocolypse to begin. I sat and looked at her slack-jawed, which I’m very good at in the presence of powerful women, having been raised solely by my mama. It was only when she finished that the light dawned on me and I realized just what chin deep doo-doo David and I were in. The two women looked at each other and just shook their heads.
I found out later that Mrs. H, our AP had appeared at David’s door and told him Mrs. M wanted to see him in the office. He told me he’d said, “Okay, I’ll go up there during my planning next period.” That’s when Mrs. H said, “Um, no. She wants to see you NOW. I’m here to watch your class.”
In the end, what saved David and I was the utter innocence and lack of any trace of intentional wrongdoing in our explanations. Our stories of what had happened had been almost verbatim the same and it was blatantly obvious to both Mrs. M and Ms. C that we were being honest when we said we had no idea we couldn’t do what we did. We both ended up with mild letters of reprimand in our files and a strict admonishment to NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, which we’ve both taken to heart ever since. Then, of course, there’s the section in the District Manual that gets read at every MAP training session . . . The WHAM RULE . . . “No teacher is to enter anyone not a student into the system, nor is any teacher to take the MAP test under his / her or any other name.”
It’s funny now. It wasn’t then. The worst part though is David never got to take the test in the spring so we’ll never know if he made his growth goal.