testing, one two three

The Bee is experiencing the joys of state testing for the first time this week. She was tremendously stressed out about it all weekend. There is something deeply wrong with a society that believes that 8-year-olds deserve academic stress.

I told her, during one of several conversations we had about how her performance on the statewide test of third graders would not unalterably determine her life’s path, that in a way, the test was more a test of her teachers than it was of her. That she would do well, but that the thing that was really being tested was how well her teachers were teaching all the kids in the class.

And you know what? I don’t really think that’s a great idea for our society either.

One of the things that I love about the Bee’s school is that it is very small. It’s so small that there is only one class for each grade. Lots of the parents know lots of the kids–not just the kids in their own child/ren’s class, but in the whole school. And it’s really a community, where the teachers know all of the kids, and the principal can not only greet each child by name, but really knows something about who they are as students.

Last year, her school had an impressive improvement in the third grade test–the scores were significantly improved over the prior year. But I’d guess that has about 80% to do with the fact that the current fifth grade (the third grade of two years ago) is filled with kids who are overactive and have a lot of attention problems. This year’s fourth grade (last year’s third grade), on the other hand, is a much quieter and better-behaved group of kids.

The Bee’s class? My bet is they’re somewhere in the middle. Does that mean if they slip ten percent from last year’s testing that the teacher was ten percent worse at her job this year? or does it speak to the vagaries of kid personalities, and attention spans more than anything else?

When the Bee came home last night, she ran up to me, gave me a great big hug, and said, “you were right Mom, it was easy!” She went to school this morning without being stressed about the test, and I’m happy about that. I just hope that the teachers  get to relax about it soon too.

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March 11, 2008. thoughtful parenting. 7 comments.