If you have a child like mine, who has anxiety disorder, the tortuous ISATs that all Illinois school children in grades 3 -8 are required to endure, are upon us. Those of you without children may not know that every year our children are subjected to several hours of multiple choice achievement testing at the beginning of March. Don't even get me started on using multiple choice tests. I've read that if you don't know the answer, that guessing answer "c" increases your odds of being correct. Many teachers use months of classroom time teaching kids how to do well on the test. They are not learning how to think creatively. They are learning how to take a test. What kind of achievement is that?
Many children, mine included, do not test well. Not only that, but my son, E, has behavior disorder and he goes to a special therapeutic school because he can't function in a mainstream classroom. Why would educators subject kids like this to even more stress than they already experience on a daily basis? Poor E was so on edge all last weekend in anticipation of his yearly "child abuse" that by the time the first day of testing was over, he was ready to explode. And explode he did. He was playing a game of cards with his Dad, who was winning, and he just lost it. The next thing I know, he smashed a mug on the floor which broke into several chards. He wants to do well, but it is so difficult for him. The repercussions from all the anxiety that he experiences often last for months after the testing is finished and we pay the price. We see a marked deterioration in his behavior; more tantrums and destruction at home. This kid is 11 years old and we have been dealing with these behaviors for almost a decade. My husband and I are in our late '50's. Don't get me wrong. We love and adore our son. But, we have had to cope with his aggressive and destructive behaviors, the likes of which most parents never experience and the stress level this puts on our family is off the charts.
I tell him every year that I wish he didn't have to take these tests, but there is nothing I can do about it. I tell him to do the best he can. Maybe if enough parents get together to protest the Illinois testing policy, we can get it changed. Are there any other parents with me on this?