The words are enough to make most students' eyes glaze over. But, like death and taxes, standardized tests are now an unavoidable part of life - an obligatory nuisance to endure. And, teachers hope, students try their best.
Students across Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 put their normal class schedules on hiatus this week for the tests: the TCAP for third to 10th graders, and ACT practice for high school juniors.
Administrators devised several activities to fill the non-testing hours. Some were purely for fun, like a barbecue and raffle drawing for prizes at Parque de Vida on Friday afternoon. Others were informative: most juniors visited Southwest Colorado Community College Thursday morning to shadow two different classes, between cosmetology, automotive, welding, nursing and electronics. The statewide ACT test takes place April 23.
Freshmen, divided into eight groups, chipped in to beautify the city streets on Friday morning by picking up trash and other debris.
High school seniors were the only grade level exempt from in-school activities this week (outside of Wednesday, when everyone had classes). Having completed all standardized testing the state requires, and having taken the ACT the prior year, they were mostly turned loose. They did, however, spend at least 12 hours volunteering at a nonprofit organization of their choice. The idea was to give them something edifying and productive to do with their time - plus it's a tried-and-true resume builder.
"Most all colleges are requiring community service now. A large share of our students already do service work of some kind, but in case they haven't and are applying to college, here's their chance," said Ed Rice, career and technical education director at M-CHS. "And it's good for them."
Organizations included the Four States Ag Expo (cleaning up the aftermath), Hope's Kitchen (at First United Methodist Church), the Salvation Army and Vista Grande Inn Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. Calculus students helped tutor younger peers in math at Cortez Middle School and various elementary schools.
A few did trail maintenance at Phil's World. One student even taught senior citizens at Madison House Assisted Living Residence how to play golf and bowling on a Nintendo Wii video game system.
Class schedules return to normal next week before adjourning for Spring Break April 1-5.