Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shut and Blog Challenge; Day 3: A Few Days in April

I'm rather proud of myself because I'm sticking to this blogging daily thing. Well enough of that.

Here is what is up with me. Last night, Seth and I were getting ready to listen to an audio book.  That is our nightly thing. Anyway, he asked what day it was. Hearing it was only Monday, he began bellyaching about the fact it was four days until Friday. Seth has never been a big fan of school. He's a good student and he has a wonderful teacher but he just gets bored easily. Unfortunately, Seth is part of a generation who has the world at its fingertips. What 3rd-grade teacher can compete with that? Seth's aversion to school has intensified lately and I've noticed he and his friends have a frenzied air about them. Wilder and rowdier. 

There is, I believe a cause and it is TEST PREP. For two months now, Seth's classmates, teacher and principal have devoted massive amounts of time and paper to preparing for the test they will take in April. Seth's poor teacher Mrs. Renfroe is beside herself devoting class time to test prep and tutors her students two days a week after school. Our principal, Mrs. Bejessie, though semi-retired (or so she says,) also spends two days a week tutoring a portion of the group. Every kid in Seth's class goes to after school tutorials. EVERY KID! Parents have to make arrangements to have their kids picked up when tutoring is over because buses have already run. Why all this effort for a three-day test in April? Because in Oklahoma, if a third grader doesn't pass "the test", they can be retained in third grade. 
 Now I could go into a full-tilt rant about this and I have in a previous blog post. For that, click here. What makes me sad is in Oklahoma, my bright child and his classmates worth is measured by what they do a few days in April. 

His teacher and our principal is right there with them. Can you imagine putting your heart and soul into bringing lessons that are engaging to students who have so many other distractions and then after all that work, your rating in the newspaper comes down to a letter grade in a column of data? 

I teach kindergarten so I have my own battles but I'm not sure I could do it every year. Further, I think I would have days that if I had a kid who just refused to be motivated, I would think, "Our class/school grade is being jeopardized by you???" Not a very nice thing to think but I bet there are good teachers in Oklahoma who find themselves thinking that and probably feel horrible for it. 

There is this ugly cycle going on in education. Our children's ability to pass that test isn't just affecting that child. There are high stakes here. Entire school districts are being threatened because of it with little regard to what is going on in that child's life. When you put a price tag on a child's ability to pass a test, the child is being cheated and the people who pass these laws, are painting Oklahoman's into an educational corner. 

I'm a believer in the ripple effect. When you label a kid a failure in third grade, where does she or he go from there? When does it stop and how many children will fail in this life because of a few days in April? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.