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Teacher tells: How I approach testing with my own children

It is testing time in many public schools. Students, teachers, and parents all agree this is the worst part of the school year. I have seen sweet babies crying during a test because if they pass they were going to lose a toy at home or perhaps were threatened to repeat the school year. This is not okay and I'm here to tell you from a teacher perspective how I will approach testing with my own children. 

I hate testing. Judging how much a child learned (or how effective a teacher is) based on the performance of one day is a ridiculous expectation. Education is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to prepare every day to do your best in school. I emphasize "your" because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. If you do not practice your best then you will not do your best. Regardless of how much I hate testing it isn't going away anytime soon so I prepare my children the same way I would for any school day. 

Preparing for school every day

Students perform their best in school when they are well rested, well fed, and have a solid routine. Kids should have 8-10 hours of sleep daily. Students should have healthy filling meals at least three times per day. (Full disclosure: my children have eaten cereal for dinner on occasion, it happens). Students should have a routine establishing a time for relaxation, exercise, school work, family time, and chores. I often see teenagers that stayed up to 4am playing video games come to school and take an end of grade test. They did not do well. 

It's about growth

Yes, there is a certain level that students need to score to be considered proficient (on grade level), but test data is so specific that it can indicate if your child showed growth from the previous year. If your child was not proficient on a test then ask "Did they show growth?" after all education is a marathon, not a sprint, some curves are tougher than others and as long as they are progressing they are moving in the right direction. 

If your child is consistently not showing growth go back to being prepared. Are they prepared every day for school? Are teachers communicating with you and you with them? Are you working with your child on their assignments? Does your child need an agenda to help get organized? Does your child have an undiagnosed learning disability that requires additional resources for education to be equitable? 

Talk with your child 

Unfortunately, the stress of state testing has put added pressure on both teachers and students. That pressure causes increased test anxiety and frustration for all involved. Talk with your child, at the beginning of the school year, and at testing time and explain your expectations. For my own kiddos, if they do their best I do not care if they are a level 2 or a level 5. I will make sure they are well fed and rested and have had a chance to be a kid. The day of the test is no different than how I prepare them each day for school. 

The test doesn't determine their intelligence. It doesn't determine their self-worth. It doesn't determine how loved they are. It doesn't determine how successful they will be.

Love your babies with no strings (or bubble sheets) attached. 

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