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by Stephanie Blackburn

January 24, 2005

 For eight months, my life had progressed with only brief moments of thinking about the Boards. Then November hit -- and the anxiety hit as well! The thought of having to log on to the NBPTS Web site to see whether I had passed the arduous process hung over my head. Occasionally, one of the five of us would ask the others if anyone had checked to see if the results were posted.

Finally, the day camea Friday of all days!

After a long restless night, I sat in front of the computer during my break. I went to the NBPTS site and found my profile. I typed in all my information and glared at the screen. Do I click submit?, I wondered. If I do, it will be a reality. What if I didn't pass? Will I have time to retake portions of it now, with a six-month-old at home? My palms were sweaty, my heart raced. Finally, I clicked the button and waited and waited and waited.

"That's it!" I thought. "I did so poorly, they can't even find my information. Why is this taking so long?" Finally, I just logged off and walked away. After the fifth unsuccessful attempt to log on, it happened. I clicked submit and a blue screen immediately appeared. Oh no! I covered my eyes. This was it -- the moment of truth.

Finally, I glanced through my fingers to see, "Congratulations! " I screeched like a little kid on Christmas morning. Relief! I had passed. I had met the goal that had inhabited my thoughts for the past five years. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment. What would I do next?

On that Friday, I didn't really care what my actual scores were; I didn't even examine them until the weekend. When I finally did take a closer look, I was amazed at what I found. The entry I had thought was my strongest turned out to be my weakest. I also didn't do as well on the test as I had expected to -- nor as poorly as I had feared! Looking at my scores, I found myself wanting more information. Why was my writing entry scored that way? What in the social studies entry could've been cleared up?I still have lots of questions.

If nothing else, though, the process really made me stop and reflect. I still am asking, "What impact does this have on the student's learning?"

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Meet Stephanie Blackburn

Stephanie Blackburn, one of Education World's 2002-2003 teacher diarists, received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Rhode Island in May 1994. For the first two years of her teaching career, Stephanie worked as an enrichment specialist in the talent development program for the Westerly, Rhode Island, school district. For the past seven years, she has taught fourth grade at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly. Stephanie was awarded a 2002 National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation, in a program that provides recognizes elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education.

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