I'm just spitballing here, but my guess is that standardized testing may have driven a few teachers to drink, but hasn't resulted in any kid living in a van down by the river.
As conversation continues to amp up about PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) testing, its pros and cons and the controversy over whether or not states are ready to implement it and whether or not kids should be able to opt out, I find myself wondering if my parents were as freaky-deaky about standardized tests when I was a kid.
"No," says my mom. "You are who you are. Some test well, others don't. I don't see fretting over something I can't control."
At least the apple didn't fall from the tree on this subject.
Back in the 70s and 80s there was standardized testing. Back then, people went to college. Today, there's standardized testing. Guess what. People still go to college.
I'm not advocating any particular position on PARCC—clearly, there are worrisome issues about test readiness. If I were to get worked up over anything it would be that there are districts without the benefit of technology necessary to implement the test, or that perhaps there isn't enough data to support the test is ready for implementation. Or that funding is being held hostage over its implementation. The one thing I am most definitely NOT worried about? Whether or not my kid is ready and her stress level over it. Or if it's going to damage her psychologically. Or if the time for prep is taking away from her opportunity to learn and be ready for high school and college and a high-profile kick ass career and a spectacular-looking family and oh shit she has to ace this test or she's going to live in a van down by the river!!!
It's time for everyone to take a collective deep breath.
Standardized testing, in the perspective of a child's entire academic career, is but a speck of time on the calendar. I know it feels like a big deal when letter after letter is sent home, entire week-long nutrition plans are suggested by school districts to ensure optimum performance, and teachers begin keyboarding practice in kindergarten. I'm not looking to minimize anyone's emotions surrounding what a parent feels is best for their kid. But believe me—your kid is going to be OK.
Well, unless of course you are modeling freaky-deaky behavior. That'll stress your kid out faster than a bubble sheet will. I see chat forums lighting up with concerns about test prep and test overload and test stress. The best antidote to that? Stop stressing.
We've got three kids, each who have endured standardized testing. My oldest, now 19, has special needs and was enrolled in some special education classes throughout his elementary and high school career. Like everyone else, he had to take the ISAT and Prairie State exams, including the ACT. Of course I thought this sucked. He did not perform well. Early on, my husband and I made the decision that a piece of paper was not going to determine our child's abilities, and we effectively ignored the results when they came in the mail. The only time I ever became truly upset over testing was when a miscommunication between the high school and the ACT occurred and he was required to take the test without accommodations. But even with them, it wasn't as if his test score meant a free ride to Harvard.
My second is a garden variety bright kid, but academically, fit best in regular classes. No honors, no AP. His standardized test scores were fine. Again, whatever. I know what my kid can and can't do. Test scores weren't even discussed at a cursory level. And this guy? The one I had to poke and prod to start college apps? He has a plethora of acceptances—from really good, small, liberal arts colleges—to choose from. His future is bright and this path is not the result of out-of-this-world test scores.
My third? She's the other end of the spectrum—awesome test scores, great high school course recommendations. Same thing. Test scores come in the mail, and for the most part, they're set aside. I know it's her initiative, her determination and her outstanding collection of teachers that are guiding the way. It's certainly not because I made her eggs for breakfast on testing day.
Like my mom said, you are who you are. I didn't parent these kids differently, Yet, they're all different. If I were to offer any advice to those just starting down this road, I would say what I said to my daughter the other night. You are more than just a piece of paper. The best test prep you can employ is to tell them not to worry about it.
When I'm not feeling bad for all these stressed out parents, I like to read. And then I like to write about what I read. Need a good suggestion? Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
I am also on Facebook, trolling for friends. Here are my last few book reviews:
Author's note: I'm all for dissenting opinion, and you are welcome to post. I hope it furthers the national conversation. But name calling comments are going to be banned. Peace, people.
Filed under: Mama Drama