Sunday, June 29, 2014

Preparing for Life's Tests?

There is a post that keeps popping up in my Facebook news feed asking me if my child is just bright or gifted. If I click on the link I'm promised to discover the truth. 

Horrified by the idea of considering any child "just bright" I clicked to find out what sort of site would be sponsoring this. The blog's name made me cringe even more- Testing Mom. The two words don't sit well together for me. Testing teacher? Yes, begrudgingly. Testing psychologist? Of course. Testing mom? Testing isn't the imagine I want my daughter to think of when she thinks of me. Caring, questioning, prompting, encouraging, teaching- all qualities that can lead to promoting her skills, but without testing.

"Preparing for all life's tests" is the tag line, and for a minute I thought, ok, life has some big tests- character building, independence pushing tests. 
I quickly discovered that's not the kind of test it is talking about. Life's tests apparently include the Woodcock Johnson and other IQ and educational performance based tests. In fact if you sign up for the site you will have access to practice questions for all sorts of tests out there. The site will prepare you to actively coach your child through diffetent assessments that can help your child get into good preschools, elementary schools and gifted programs.

I suppose I knew all along that sites and programs like this existed but in the world of teaching in a title one school I feel far removed from it. 

This site seems to sum up everything that is wrong with education. It's not about teaching children, preparing them, strengthening them or helping them become better people. It's about helping them pass arbitrary tests that sadly hold the perceived keys to a child's future. Parents do this because they don't want their child left behind or to miss out on opportunities. Somehow wanting the best has become gaming the system.

I once was giving one of these assessments when it became abundantly clear the child had been coached. That went straight into my report, making the scores unreliable because we no longer had a true picture of the child. 

Preparing your child for life's tests? Play with them. Read books. Go on a nature walk. Coach them through independently ordering at a restaurant. Cook together. Eat dinner as a family. Listen to their thoughts and concerns. Love them. Encourage hard work, determination, empathy and delayed gratification. 

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