Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yes, you're gonna see many more kids out on the streets than you'd normally see in mid-week.

No, it's not an extended spring break...It's LEAP week for a select number of students.

This is when the teachers of all public school grades tear their hair out, however, because there are those that must teach to these tests and administer them, sure, but the rest of the grades must bow to the testing situation, so arrangements must be made on the school campuses to keep the children as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the kids taking the tests. My son is leaving the school grounds - under chaperoned supervision - no less than three days this week. The school building is apparently supposed to be as silent as a graveyard. Wouldn't surprise me at this point if the schools opted to bus the kids being tested out to some of our cemeteries, except for the fact that the weather is kind of unpredictable this time of year...and the fact that the kids probably wouldn't be able to concentrate much in a city of the dead anyhow.

Having gone to private school until ninth grade, I didn't much get how important state testing was until the junior year kids in my Houston high school ran the halls after their state tests, elated that all of them had passed once again, making my high school the highest rated one in the state by the results of that test alone. I couldn't believe that anyone could get overjoyed about the results of any test, forget high school students, but these kids were in the spirit of it.

Little did I know what a harbinger of future events that was.

I've seen people het up over getting their kids on the wait list for the right schools from practically the moment their children were conceived. I've seen five-year-olds expected to do dioramas of their rooms at home for kindergarten class assignments (that's still the age when one wonders how grading is determined on such a thing - the creativity of the parents? How much the child has participated in the making of the project? I mean...). I've seen remedial summer work required for kids who made the grade during the school year but fell just short of it on the state tests.

And now there is this tyranny of quiet in which the kids not in testing sessions can't even go directly out on the school grounds to play lest the ones being tested get disturbed. If a school is lucky enough to have a park off the grounds and within walking distance, then this isn't much of a problem, but other schools must treat it like Field Trip Week - with the school year's curriculum requirements still needing to be taught.

How high are the stakes? Last year, the testing revealed that, in my son's school, the number of passing students in some of the lower grades was slightly down. This was cause for parental hysteria. Are the standards slipping? Whose teachers' heads need to roll? Are the testing conditions less than ideal? What have we gotten ourselves into???? One would have thought the sky was about to cave because a few kids didn't test well. Which happens. Much more than most people would think.

So all good public schools must endure this proving of themselves all over again, every year, because it isn't just the plotzing of the kids' moms and dads that must be taken into consideration - it's how well the school is doing overall in the state.

Note to my local library branch: brace yourselves, as you're about to be overrun by a couple of classes of 1st-3rd grade children. The rest of this city must also be on alert.

1 comment:

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Remember, your tax dollars pay government contractors millions upon millions of dollars to disrupt your child's education with this test.