5 Mar
Posted in: parenting
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Encouragment for Standardized Testing

Standardized testing is my least favorite phrase. My skin prickles every time testing comes up in conversation.

Standardized Test

March has been ruined for me. Before sending children to public school, the month of March meant the near-end of winter and the start of spring. Now March means PAWS…Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students. It’s our state’s annual testing to gauge academic progress. My children will tell you PAWS stands for Punishing All Wyoming Students. That’s just how much they love it.

The greater portion of several days in the month of March are geared toward PAWS testing for my 5th and 3rd graders. I think I’ll attempt to keep track of how many days my youngest spends on standardized testing when she starts kindergarten in one more year. Imagine what the kids could have been taught, not just tested on, with those hours in the classroom. I’m with Dr. Seuss, ” It’s better to know how to learn than to know.” I wish our education system was truly based on the idea of igniting a passion for learning in our children. If only children could know and learn just for the sake of doing it, instead of fitting into a matrix. Linking our children to numbers on a grid instead of taking the whole person into consideration breaks my mama heart.

Both of my children would rather not be forced to take PAWS. My oldest won’t lose sleep over the process, but for an eager learner like him, testing sucks the marrow out of school. Instead of it being this place he can learn, explore and discover, it becomes of place of sitting and remaining quiet. My third grader had a horrible standardized testing experience in second grade. It has completely altered the way he approaches testing. There have been sleepless nights, upset stomachs and begging not to go to school. Only standardized testing has ever had that effect on him. Early this year, we found some new strategies to help relieve his stress levels. I spend a whole lot of time praying for calm, peace and confidence for J with each standardized test. There’s a problem when our students are stressed at the age of 9 because of testing. That’s another post all its own.

The 5th grade teachers asked family members to write letters of encouragement to the students. The letters were opened before the first PAWS test was administered.  I love knowing the last thing he read before testing were words of encouragement from his dad and me. Below is most of the letter I wrote to B. I don’t care what he scores. The number doesn’t diminish or increase how smart he is or measure anything about a person that actually matters in life. However, the numbers, for better or worse, follow him throughout his school years. I want him to do his best, whatever that is on any given day.

Dear Bubba,

I have two things I want you to remember today and always:

1. “Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do. The successful people don’t always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them.” I don’t know who said/wrote that. You are a successful student because you work hard and try even harder. Both of those things aren’t always fun. You’ll do great today because you are a successful boy who will one day take the world by storm as a successful man.

2. Oprah Winfrey said, “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” We never know which moments in life will be the most important ones. Try to live your moments always striving to put yourself in the best place possible. These tests are just moments used to glimpse what you’ve been taught. They’re just moments in the 11 years of learning you’ve done for people who most likely won’t have the pleasure of ever knowing you. You’ll wow them with your knowledge.

Remember you are loved. I’m impressed with the young man you’re becoming. Make good choices, do your best, never stop trying and don’t be afraid of your mistakes…for today and always.

Love you lots-

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