Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I Think Standardized Testing is DUMB!


If you're not ready for a rant, then this is not the blog for you to read.  If you're one of our "fine" congressmen, then you probably should read it.  Maybe it will educate you a little on what the students, families and teachers go through.  You apparently either have no clue (because your kids go to a rich private school which doesn't administer these tests) or just don't care.

I was a speech therapist for seven years in the public school.  You could walk into my closet sized classroom at any given time between January and mid-April to find me not working on my speech goals.  Instead, I was trying to calm down a group of 3rd graders who were in tears.  Why?  The pressure that their teachers had put on them to pass this test was so huge, they couldn't take it anymore. 8 years old and already worrying about their future.  They should've been more concerned with who they were going to play with at recess.  

Flash ahead a few years, I have my own little girl getting ready to take it for the first time.  I was already meeting with my child's teacher 4 weeks into the new school year.  Not because she's failing or a trouble maker...I'm trying to make sure her math skills will be up to take the flipping test in April!  The state judges her whole year on that one test.  More pressure, but now I'm in the parent role.  

Now, I have a 3rd grader and an 8th grader.  Both are testing.  Both are honor students.  My son,who is very similar to "Rain Man", has been stressed since last week about the math test.  The kid can add numbers faster than a calculator but he's worried he doesn't know everything.  My 8th grader is calm and collected.  She was pulling a high A in science when I got a letter stating she needed to attend MANDATORY tutoring for 3.5 hours in the afternoon Mon-Thurs or else.  Why?  Because she only passed the science PRACTICE TEST by 1 question.  My kid who plans on majoring in psychology.  My kid who plans on being in the dual credit program her junior year so she can graduate high school with her diploma AND an associate's degree.  

Standardized testing has created this cycle of passing the buck in education.  The powers that be put pressure on the school districts...who pass it on to the principals...who pass it to the teachers...who pass it to BOTH kids and parents.  Not one congressman takes into consideration any extenuating circumstances like kids who don't test well, kids who have to take care of themselves, kids who have to be the adults at home, kids who don't learn information the same as everyone else, or kids that just had a bad day.  My kids went to bed early last night.  My kids were prepared a good breakfast this morning.  What about the kids that didn't have that same opportunity?  Congressmen don't think about these things because that's not the life they or their kids live.  They represent districts that have those kinds of kids...but you can bet your ass they never make it out to see those kids or the schools they attend.  It's easier to sit in that $500 suit behind a fancy desk and make laws.  Heaven forbid them to drive their Mercedes into "those" neighborhoods.  

When I asked why my kid was being sent to tutoring when she had a 96 average, want to know the answer I was given?  Our daily work doesn't align with the STAAR testing.  Are you freaking kidding me??!!  My kid attends school for 180 days... 176 days is apparently busy work and they base her whole 8th grade year on 4 freaking days!!!  
Let's get back to teachers teaching.  The good ones will stand out.  Your good teachers will enjoy their job that much more.  Your good teachers will get through to those kids who struggle.  Your good teachers will make it known to students that they care about them.  Guess what happens then?  Your students start caring.  The ones that shine will shine brighter.  The ones that didn't shine before will start to now they have a teacher who cares.    Kids will want to come to school because they love their teacher...because they love learning.
The bad teachers will also stand out but not in a good way.  So get rid of them and replace them with a good teacher.  Good teachers strive to make each day a new learning experience.  Bad ones are just marking days off til summer vacation.   At the end of all this, guess what you get?  A good teacher who got even better...who taught students that even smarter...and less likely to drop out.  And less bad teachers.

I made sure my kids were prepared.  I made sure to wish my kids good luck today.  I made sure to console them in their "freak out" moments.  I made sure to tell them to do their best, double check their math and take their time.   But truth is I don't give a rat's ass how they do today.  This day doesn't define them.  It won't keep them from reaching their dreams.  I just don't tell them that.

I warned you this was a full on rant. I know our usual mom Mondays are filled with fun stuff for you and your kids.  But today, I had stuff to get off my chest.  Now go buy your kiddos a nice little treat for making it through the testing day!

Hugs y'all!

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