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Thursday, March 8, 2007

No child left alone

My stepsons are in 7th and 4th grade. Next week, they will be forced to take the PSSA tests...Pennsylvania's current answer to standardized testing. My head is practically spinning right now.

First there's the frustration over this being completely useless and a huge waste of time. I remember taking the tests...CTBS, they were called in my day...and it was a week of boredom and futility to rival solitary confinement. These tests do not measure the progress or comprehension of your child. They measure the performance of a school district, and are used to approve funding. I'm still trying to figure out why the SAT's, the GRE's...hell, even the bar exam, are one-day tests...and they DO affect the test subject! I fail to see why anyone would invest that much of their time in something that has no direct relevance to themselves. Oh wait...that's why participation isn't voluntary.

I considered keeping the kids home next week, but then I remembered that when my oldest stepson was in fourth grade, he was tutored at home by his teacher (awesome woman) because of a chronic illness (he got a Make-A-Wish and everything). And he was still made to take the standardized test.

Don't get me wrong, it's not only my annoyance at the fact that the kids will be doing nothing but filling in circles and staring at the wall in a silent room for an entire week. (In seventh grade, I read the entire Narnia series and half of the first Thomas Covenant trilogy, and still had time to catch up with all of my penpals.) What is really burning me is that they take time away from TEACHING the kids anything. And not just for the duration of the testing, either. The kids have each been bringing home study guides for the past two weeks. Study guides! Holy crap, I didn't even find them useful for the SAT's, considering that these type of assessment tests are primarily about comprehension of material that they won't see until that day.

I am just getting more and more fired up about this pathetic waste of time and resources. And I'm extra rant-y today, because of a letter that the district mailed to parents. Here are some excerpts, with my snark added.

The results are help plan your child's academic future [only in the sense that they are one of many in the affected district, not that it is in any way tailored to that child's specific needs] as well as school programs...

It is imperative that your child is in attendance and on time for the scheduled testing dates. If you have appointments scheduled for this time period, please make every effort to change them. [Great, so now you're dictating how *I* spend *my* day, too?]

...make-up testing necessitates a loss of instructional time in the classroom. [Hello?!? So does the scheduled testing! Hence my grouchiness!]

...a well-balanced breakfast is essential to optimize your child's performance. Also, please be sure that they are well rested during testing week. [Apparently, the rest of the year, when they're presumably doing actual work and learning and other things that directly affect them, it doesn't matter if they're sleep-deprived and starving. Oh, and thanks for telling me how to raise my children.]

It seems that our only loophole (outside of yanking them from school completely) is to file a grievance with the district superintendent explaining that the test material is offensive in some way to our religious beliefs.

Hm. Anyone know of a good religion I could convert to over the weekend?

1 comment:

  1. I would react exactly the same way, Heaz. This stuff makes me wild! Every time I think about sending my kids to school I come across a reason like this that puts me over the edge!