All About The Testing

I had totally planned to write today about why Peeta is better than Gale, but then this conversation happened in our house last night.

V: Mama, wake me up early, we HAVE to be at school on time tomorrow.

Me: Because we are usually late? (We’re not).

V: No, but we have to leave the gym at 7:45, to get ready for our test.

Me: Okay, well, was there a note about being there early?

V: No, they just told us. Also, we need to have a good breakfast.

Me: Right, because testing day is the ONLY day it’s important to have a good breakfast. *rolls eyes*

V: Yes! We need to have extra good breakfast on testing days, the teachers said.

Me: Well, if the teachers said it…… Ugh, go to bed, I’ll get you up early.

After everyone was in bed for the night, I started thinking. Some version of this conversation has happened in our house since M was in the third grade and started taking standardized tests every year. Get enough sleep, have a good breakfast, yada, yada. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve wondered, why is this the message we are teaching our children? That it’s only important to get enough sleep, eat well, and be prepared before something major? We should be doing these things every day. Not just before a test.

And the main thing they are learning at school? How to take said test. And that’s just about it.

I’m a little all over the place on this subject because so many things about this make me so crazy mad. Testing, scare tactics and just general bullshit.

First of all, the testing in general. This year, Texas has switched from the TAKS test to the STARR test. There are a lot of “reasons” why they made this switch, and if you want to read about them, you can read this, but the main difference is it’s timed and the kids have all been told it will be “harder.” Here’s what hasn’t changed; it’s still bullshit. Because my children (and yours too if they attend public school in Texas), are being taught to take a test. All year long.

Their work consists of questions that ask, “what’s the best answer for this question?” What? What about what’s the RIGHT answer? This is why I don’t help with homework. Well, that and my ability to do math ends somewhere around the second grade level. But almost everything that they do in school, leads up to these tests. I get testing. I do. Testing is necessary to measure what kids have learned. But when that’s all school is? I think we’ve gone too far.

We had testing when I was growing up. I can’t remember in what grades exactly. But I do remember the testing. But I was never scared of it. And I don’t remember anyone else being scared of it either. And there are plenty of people in my generation who are extremely well educated, and successful. Many who happen to be my friends. And those people, attended public schools in Texas where tests were not the end all be all of the education system.

And in light of the article I read yesterday about the crazy helicopter parents and the Egg Hunt, I’m thinking: No wonder our kids are becoming increasingly screwed up. The schools are telling them they HAVE to excel at these tests. That it’s the most important thing ever, that THEY WILL NEVER SUCCEED IN LIFE IF YOU DON’T PASS YOUR STARR TEST. And then at home, parents are saying, you’re the best, I’ll help you when you fail, don’t worry, I WILL FIND ALL THE EGGS FOR YOU. It’s nutso. No wonder kids are becoming bulimic as early as middle school.

Then there’s the whole “eat a good breakfast and get enough sleep” thing. Call me crazy, but I like for my kids to get enough sleep and have a good breakfast on a daily basis. Shocking, I know. I’m controversial like that.

In summary: Standardized testing is bullshit. Kids need to actually learn things in school. All kids should be well rested and properly nourished at all times. Life lessons from Leah. Write them down.