I have two juniors this year. Well, one is an exchange student from Brazil. Both were required today by the State of Wisconsin to take the ACT. Their school is taking it so seriously, they cancelled school for the other high school students and they’ve been working through daily test prep since the practice results came back in fall. Why ask exchange students to take this test, I’m not sure (nor was her counselor), but my girl approached it with an open mind, saying it would be good practice.
I was paged at 10:30 this morning; I had an important call from the high school. I immediately started to worry about my son, who suffers from test anxiety. No, it turns out that they needed to “abort” my daughter’s test because she’d gone back to finish a section that she hadn’t finished in the allotted time. (Can anyone explain to me why we want to test what kids know, but only if they can show us in a certain amount of time?) She was removed from the room and needed to be picked up. When I arrived, she cried, said she didn’t understand that she couldn’t just go back to fill in the bubbles, and was sincerely sorry that she missed the opportunity to see how she’d do on the ACT.
I did a lot of thinking about this after I took her home. I feel grateful that the school counselor and administrator were so understanding and sensitive to my daughter’s mistake.
I’m also frustrated with the emphasis placed on testing in education. I could talk all day about the topic. I know I’m not alone. But today, I’m really thinking about how it [high stakes testing] impacts real kids. My kids. Stress, hours of actual education lost, hours that could have been spent reading spent on test prep instead. They say that trends in education swing like a pendulum. I hope that pendulum comes crashing down on this one; our kids’ mental health depends on it.