The 12 Stages of Monitoring a Standardized Test

Oh yeah. We’ve been there.

Usually when you’re bored you can call someone, use technology, doodle on a napkin, or slip into a daydream about getting stuck in an elevator with Benedict Cumberbatch. But on standardized testing days, the only thing teachers can do is watch students take a test. Because of this unique combination of stress and boredom, teachers go through a highly emotional journey comprising 12 distinctive stages. Allow me to enlighten you.

Stage 1: Pure Optimism and Positivity

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Teachers get their students psyched up because that’s what they do. They’ve been preparing for this all school year, and they do everything they can to make sure kids are in the right mindset. Let the testing begin! 

Stage 2: A False Sense of Excitement

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There’s something about getting a bundle of 30 sharpened pencils and the knowledge that teachers will have to deal with fewer outbursts than normal that instills a false sense of hope.

Stage 3: Waning Optimism

The initial excitement takes a dramatic downturn, anywhere between 10 and 35 minutes in.

Stage 4: Eye-Stabbing Boredom

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This is the stage where teachers remember that they actually have to watch students take a test for the next several hours.

Stage 5: Panic


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And this is the stage where teachers realize they are less than 40 minutes in.

Stage 6: Anger

Teachers usually start mentally drafting angry letters to their congressperson at this stage.

Stage 7: Determination

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This is a particularly sad step in the standardized-testing process, usually after lunch, when teachers begin to think they will actually make it.

Stage 8: Dreaming 

They start thinking about all the great things they’re going to do later because it’s one of the only things that can help them get through. 

Stage 9: Soul-Crushing Despair

And then it hits them: They’re only halfway done.

Stage 10: Bargaining

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In this stage teachers begin asking the “What if … ” questions in order to escape the pain of proctoring a state test: What if I suddenly “remembered” I left the water running? What if I instantaneously developed a severe case of shingles?

Stage 11: Hope

And somehow, finally, impossibly, the clock shows that fewer than ten minutes remain.

Stage 12: Deliverance

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They find a way to celebrate with their teacher BFF because they just made it! 

Did we miss anything? Come share the best/worst part of monitoring tests in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook. 

And if you’re looking some things to do during testing, check out our article, 17 Things You Can Do While Actively Monitoring!