Thursday, March 08, 2007

The (dreaded) PSSAs

Now that my kisd are in third grade, they have officially entered the part of their schooliong lives where they get to take part in official standardized testing. My kids are pretty nervous, which is silly, considering their amazing brillance. But, I suppose it would be hard not to be. The school seems to keep saying over and over again, "Don't be nervous about this thing that we are making a super-huge deal about." And, for the school I suppose it is.

See, I am not one of those people who hates the No Child Left Behind legislation. I really think, in theory, it's very good. Yes, the school district should be teaching my children. And, yes, if they are not, I should be able to send my children elsewhere. I like that children who are in special education have to also be included in the testing results. I really do think no child should be left behind. And, I think the thing that I like the most about it is that teachers hate it. I always think accountability is a great thing, unless I am the one being held accountable.

In practice, though, is a somewhat different story, I feel. It's put wayyyyy too much emphasis on testing. Even my little 1st grader had to take some standardized tests this year, just to give him practice. After all, I can't imagine one of my kids sitting before a college entrance person telling them how wonderful they did on their 3rd grade PSSAs or their 1st grade Terra Novas. It is far more important for the school than it is for my child.

Which is why it is upsetting that my children are getting worked up over something that doesn't even really affect them. The school is doing lots things to make it seem like it's fun to take a teast, but it's sort of like this: suppose there was an elephant in my living room and I told my kids, "Don't be nervous about the elephant, in fact, don't even bother yourselves about it. It's a fine elephant and you don't need to worry about it at all." But, then, I did a cheer about the elephant, sang songs about the elephant and everyday I had them dress up the elephant and then just before the elephant was about to leave, I threw a big party for the elephant. It would be pretty hard not to concern oneself with that elephant.

It seems like maybe it would just be easier if we just gave the kids a stinking test with a simple sentence, "You'll be taking some tests next week." I don't know. Call me crazy. One thing I do know is this: the "good night's sleep" that I'm supposed to make sure my kids get next week is not bloody likely to happen given the pressure they seem to be feeling.


Tracie Butka said...

I am with ya sister! Trey my 1st grader now, is concern about these test when he gets there, and you ask how does he know? Well it seem that the 1st and second graders are doing incentive projects for the 3rd and 4th graders. I think it is GREAT to support them, but I told Trey not to worry about it until he gets there.

I told Trey that we can support them by praying for them. So here is a little prayer going out to the Klan

AmyinMotown said...

Here in MMichigan we have the MEAP and schools do the same thing. I never thought about all the "motivating" they do and how it can backfire on the kids. Interesting point.

Also, as you know we SO rarely agree on politcal issues I had to say this: RIGHT ON about the teacher accountability. Teachers say they shouldn;t be judged on what one test does, but I think it's a start. Here, the teacher's union fights any accountability. Wish any of my paid jobs didn't require me to prove I was actually doing the job, you know?