So this week has been such a difficult week due to the state exams. I questioned if I should have my son Opt out like so many parents are now beginning to do. I then thought, “what would I be teaching him if I told him he didn’t have to take the test?”. Face it, life is difficult and we are faced with some tough obstacles- do we just give up and give in? NO! I do understand how many parents are feeling but I chose to allow him to take it.
I was a third grade teacher for many years and I saw what was on the state exam. I also saw what we taught them before the exam and because you don’t know what the exam entails you don’t know which concepts will be on it. It’s a bit of a guessing game and it is quite unfair. I would cringe when I walked around and saw the children taking the exam because I knew what we had covered and what we didn’t. It hurt my heart to see them tense up and bite their fingernails. I remember one little girl who was so strong and confident broke down during the exam. She put her head on the desk and just started weeping. I felt helpless in that situation but quickly jumped into mommy mode and had her stop and go for a break. Now I know what it is to deal with my own child in this situation.
The night before the ELA exam my son asked me, “would you be mad at me if I didn’t do well?”. It was a surprise question coming from him because we didn’t speak about the test at home. I believe as it was getting closer maybe the teachers had no choice but to speak about it. I maintained mum about the test at home and allowed him to continue on with his regular routine, not giving him extra work just because the test was coming. I truly believe if you get the concepts, you get them and if you don’t- well just go with it. They are not going to learn a concept overnight. I quickly replied, “No way! Just try your best and know that you can do it”.
The next morning (the day of the state exam) he woke up and said, “I have a bellyache”. We went through our routine of breakfast and getting ready and he seemed to ease up. I knew it was the thought of that damn test! When walking him into school I gave him the biggest kiss and hug, looked him in his big brown eyes and told him again, “try your best”. When he came out he looked like a zombie. He was exhausted and as soon as he jumped in the car he told me he had a headache. That afternoon was the first time he didn’t do his homework. Yes, he received homework that night too. I wrote the teachers a letter and told them I felt it was too much to complete homework. The teachers totally understood and he made it up the next day.
The two days after that he seemed better, much more at ease. He woke up happier and ready to tackle the test. At that moment I felt that I made the right choice in allowing him to take the test. I know deep down in my heart that he has the potential to do well and although some things are difficult we at least have to give them a try. Do I agree with this testing- NO! Do I feel he can do it and he will give it his best-YES! I just hope this week he tackles the math state exam with the same attitude. Now he knows what to expect so maybe he will be less stressed. My baby is growing up and all I can do is stand by him and encourage him to do his very best! I have to remind him that a test doesn’t define how intelligent you are, nothing does!
As a parent would you allow your child to opt out of the state exams?