It’s Testing Time – Now Take a Deep Breath by Dina Ramon
School used to be so fun and low stress. Remember when the biggest concern was your child losing naptime in the transition from kindergarten to first grade? Then in second grade the homework got a little more challenging and more of it came home every afternoon; which can be both pleasing and shocking to an older mom. I don’t remember doing homework until I was in junior high school! Those seemed like pretty big adjustments for my daughter until this year – her first exposure to standardized testing issued by the state. Now it seems like every day for weeks my daughter’s class has been practicing, reviewing, and preparing for several upcoming days of rigorous multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. She says she is not worried about it but I know she feels some pressure because she asks me to practice with her practically every afternoon after school and every night before bed. If I try to put it off for a little while or don’t go through every single question with her she displays way more anxiety than she should for an eight-year-old who normally loves school and embraces rather than avoids challenging assignments. We’ve probably all seen the controversies surrounding these tests that have sparked ‘anti-test’ rallies, teacher resignations and many news stories around the country. You have to wonder if it’s all really worth it? I am all for testing students to gauge effectiveness of teaching methods, identify deficiencies, and assess performance gaps among students, but the negative reaction to these tests by so many students, parents, and educators, not to mention the potential negative physical impact on kids whether they are 8 or 18, implies that the whole process has become overly burdensome on the whole system. This is just my daughter’s first year of this mandatory ritual. I wonder how well or reluctantly she will get through it for the next nine? Well, I can be sure that in addition to honoring the memory of military service members who died for our county, and welcoming summer, this Memorial Day will bring relief that the standardized tests are over…for this year anyway.