Written by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling
It’s that time of the year — standardized testing. The process itself has been ever-changing for us.
When we first started, I really wanted my son tested. It meant he was doing fine and I wasn’t ruining him by keeping him out of school. But later I read that the tests — random questions written by a “committee,” had no real bearing on what the students know or have learned.
As part of a charter school, my kids must be tested each year. We’re encouraged to purchase test prep books months before the actual event, usually right after winter break. Looming overhead is the not-so-subtle threat of funding cuts, or even the extinction of the school entirely, if specific score results are not met.
This year, the test took place about 20 miles from home. We woke early, ate a hearty breakfast, packed lunches, and made our way through traffic–on one of the stormiest days of the year.
Once there the kids checked in, and the parents headed across the lawn to the empty building that was to be our shelter from the wet and cold for the next five hours.
While sipping hot tea we joked and exchanged stories about the ridiculousness of the whole experience. Our children hail from a whole spectrum of interests and abilities. Within different families, they learn different subjects at different times.
How can filling in a few bubbles ever measure the extent of their knowledge?
The answer? It can’t.
On a lighter note, one mom shared her secret weapon to help motivate her kids — the lunch bag. She had packed a super lunch, filled with a whole assortment of her kids’ favorite foods. Another calmly reminded her children that the test represented only one inconvenience out of a whole year of not going through an actual school routine.
What struck me though, was that for all our joking and complaining, it wasn’t the test itself that brought on the kids’ dread. For the most part, it wasn’t even a concern.
They were just annoyed at having to be stuck in a classroom all day, when they could be doing something more worthwhile. I can’t blame them.
As my son has said on more than one occasion, it’s just another thing to get over and done with, so he can go do some real learning.
Do you have your kids tested? How do your children feel about the testing experience?