I remember in 2nd grade I had Mrs. Capps and I remember very vividly her telling us that we were going to do something cool in her class in a couple of months and I am sure there were great moments that led up to this surprise. However, I struggle now to remember those parts. I do remember when the day finally came because she told us to spread ourselves out all over the floor. She said stretch out and get comfy. She made us take two pencils with us and turned the lights on low. Then before us she sat a piece of paper and a bubble sheet.
She told us then we would be taking the Indiana State Standardized test. She made the idea of it and process of it fun and natural. We didn’t all cram in some computer lab or get some randomized password. We didn’t really even talk about this test as anything more or less than a test, so we all approached it just like any other test. I am sure you had little Johnny would couldn’t sit still and little Linda who liked to talk her neighbor.
I do remember the reason we all stretched out on the floor was because the test would take a couple of hours. But I also knew each break had a dancing party, a snack and a drink. It included hugs from her and giggles from my friends. That couple of hours was a break from our usually hectic and academic driven day. The only request ever made of me in this test was that I showed what I knew.
I love this story and recognize it is not the narrative playing out in classrooms today. I don’t know if what changed was big business got involved in testing or if politicians put too much weight on what this snippet of a child’s academic career actually means in a classroom and to a students success or sadly a teacher’s failure. I remember it looking vaguely familiar for the next few years I made my way through the elementary.
Somewhere it changed. Somewhere educators, politicians, parents and education training grounds let down our gaurd and we convinced ourselves that this testing madness equates to better schools, better classrooms and better students. But I have to wonder if the younger version of me understood what we all aren’t. I thought standardized testing was fun because it didn’t have its high stakes monikers that we now attach to it. We didn’t have teachers afraid. We didnt have students with test fatigue. We didn’t have inappropriate conversations with small children that included domain specific vocabulary (see what I did there) that makes them uneasy.
Shame on all of us. Where did we get so off track?
Sincerely a very frustrated Momma, MR