SOMWaD: "Ccrap" week
It's "Ccrap" week for my son. What does that mean? If you're a parent in my town, you probably know (or have figured it out). It's standardized test week! And in my opinion, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test (known as PARCC) is crap...or in PARCC-speak, CCRAP. PARCC cuts into his regular school schedule, and as far as I know he this week he will be missing out on French and Gym (which are every other day classes) and his current cycle class which this week is computer. (In our school system there are 6 classes that students cycle through during the year: Art, Music, Computer, Information Technology, Health and Advisory.) From what he has told me he has testing in the morning, lunch and then his four core classes (Science, Social Studies, Math and Literacy) before the day ends.
I went through the same school system as my son many, many years ago. I vaguely recall taking some standardized tests with my number two pencils. As far as I recall they didn't disrupt my school life that much. They didn't make much of an impression on me. I don't recall being anxious about them; there was no reason to be. In my mind, and I'm guessing in the mind of my parents, they weren't that big a deal.
But standardized testing has become a big deal and not just in my neck of the woods. Students are prepped for these tests. Parents are advised. I'm betting that teachers are stressed. All of this for tests that "assess" (those of you who read my blog regularly know how much I LOVE that word) readiness for college and career? After a week of testing and eventual "grading" what will I know and the school system know about my son that we didn't already know? Absolutely nothing. (Side note: my son took the test last year and we got the results this fall. Results were exactly what I expected. No surprises and no red flags. So now he's taking the test again and will continue to do so throughout his schooling to tell me what?) Will this test tell me anything about the quality of his teachers and the school in general? Absolutely not. At age 10 (fifth grade) is this test telling anyone if he is ready for college or a career? Please...
I may be missing something here. Certainly I want my child to be successful in life. At this point, I'm not sure if college is in his future or not, but I do know that by the time gets to his junior or senior year of high school, I will know and as a responsible parent, I will make sure that he is ready for the "real" world. That might be college, it might not. As he grows, matures and learns, his path in life will become clearer. But as a 5th grader, neither he or my husband and I have any idea what his future might hold. Just like so many other children, he has many talents and as they continue to emerge and evolve, who knows what path they may lead him down.
I don't think I'm a particularly "special" or "good" parent. I'm just your average parent and person. As such I know my kid. I know most of his strengths and his weaknesses. (Not all of them; no one really could.) I know what he needs help in and I know where he shines. My job as a parent is to help him (or find help for him) when he struggles and needs it, let him explore and foster his curiosity and knowledge. As a parent it is my "job" to prepare him for life. It is my "job" to work with his teachers and educators.
Call me naive or idealistic, but I think if parents and educators do their "jobs" our children will be prepared for their future no matter what that future might hold. It might be college or it might be a career. No test is going to tell me what that path might be. I certainly don't need a test to tell me what I already know and what any of his teachers could tell me by just spending a few months with him in their classroom.
Maybe someday we will wake up and realize that we need to cut the crap. We need to let teachers do their job: teach, not proctor standardized tests. We, as parents, need to prepare our children for the future and not pretend that some "assessment" will give us an answer. We don't need "CCRAP"; we need parents and educators who work together. That will "ready" our children for college and/or a career. Even better it will prepare them for life.