If you have school-age children or work at a school, you know that Spring not only means Spring Break and snotty allergy noses but also standardized tests. No, not the ACT/SAT we all endured in high school but the pick your acronym de jour (LEAP, STAAR, TCAP, PASS, etc.) state standardized tests. The kids begin testing in third or fourth grade as a benchmark and then go right on up through high school depending on your state. The state where we currently reside started their testing today. Of course, both the parents and children have been inundated with practice tests, reminders to ensure our children are well rested and fed and to encourage each other. While I understand the need for tests, I do not understand the need for this level of testing.
Before we go any further let me state this isn’t a slam on teachers. I love teachers. I have a few teachers in my family and count many as friends. I see how hard these people work. I see how much they take away from themselves and their own families to help the kids in their classes. These teachers are required to teach the test to our kids just like our kids are required to take the test. With that being said, I find it very ironic that every teacher I know with the exception of one hates all of this required testing. And, do you want to know the funniest part? The only person I know that sees any merit to the testing is a retired private school teacher that never had to administer these tests. I’m not even sorry when I say her opinion does not count in this matter.
In this day and age parents have plenty of options when it comes to schooling our children. Public, private, prep, parochial, stem, homeschool, hybrid, the choices are as endless as the learning styles of our children. I know that if I send my kids to anything other than a public school they wouldn’t have to take the state standardized test. I also know there is an opt-out in my state but that option is fraught with drama. I know I’m not alone when I say I worry I’m making the wrong decision about the type of education my kids receiving. Yet, I don’t feel like any of the other options are any better. I see positives and negatives in all of the options. So, they are taking the test. In the meantime, what are you telling your kids this week or during the week of your state exams? Are you giving them the pep talk? I’ll admit it, I’m not. Yes, I heard your gasp. I gave them my own kind of pep talk. I told them what I tell every time they have a test. I told them to take their time, check your answers twice, and above all try your best. I tell them the grade they get on this test doesn’t define how smart they are or who they are. Yes, the grade will follow you just like any other grade. But, grades are not the end all be all. I remind them that some of the most brilliant minds of our time couldn’t be hemmed in by a school. No, I’m not encouraging my kids to drop out to make Youtube videos. I’m encouraging them to work hard, try their best, and figure out a workaround when their best isn’t good enough. Hopefully, that advice and the actual information (not test-taking skills) they pick up in school will help them transition into a fulfilling and financially supportive career.