MCAS and Taylor Mali

The link above is to Taylor Mali’s poem “I’ll Fight You for the Library.” I’m two days into the Grade 10 ELA MCAS test. One more day to go, plus whatever make-up days I wind up working on. I brought up my MCAS box today, leaving one in the library with the other proctor, and I encountered a very familiar student, who was sitting on a stairway. I said hello and asked her why she was just sitting there. She said hi, ignore my question, and asked one of her own: “Miss D? When is the library open again?”

I sighed, and answered honestly: “I’m not sure. Probably not today, since there are still students working right now. I’m going to assume Tuesday.” (side note: ELA MCAS is three days of testing, plus generally one make-up day.)

The student stood and I could see the defeated slump in her shoulders. She is a student who I see on a daily basis. She spends her lunch time in the library. She forged a pass once (just ONCE), accepted her one week ban with grace, asked if there was any way to get the ban lifted. She wrote an apology letter and I told her that was good and she could come back to the library once MCAS was over.

On a normal day, I see 150+ students, not including whatever classes are booked. I have about 75 students across three lunch blocks who have currently signed their “lunchtime library pass” agreement (and will likely have a couple more sign next week. This agreement is something I did last year and have decided to reinstate it due to sheer numbers!) I see 20 or so students just in the 20 minutes between 7:05 am when they can enter the building and 7:25 am when they need to start moving to class, which starts at 7:35 am. I see students who need to type projects, do research, print something quickly, get a new book, return other books, never mind the lunchtime kids who come down to socialize, or the ones who prefer the library for credit recovery (online program) over the actual computer labs.

I understand the need to use the library for MCAS. Yes.

I understand the lack of proctors, which is why I am one.

I still get sad/frustrated when I have to close the library for three (four?) days for ELA, three for Math, two or three for Science, two for ACCESS tests, PLUS all the retakes/retests earlier this year. The library is probably closed for a month or more just for testing. That is time taken away from students who need the library for whatever reason they need it for.

Just a reminder: School Library Impact PDF. School libraries help close the achievement gap.  “Studies conducted over the past two decades, both in Colorado and nationwide, show that students in schools with endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests in reading, compared with students in schools without endorsed librarians.”



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