Most test anxiety is adult-induced. And how could it be otherwise after two decades of No Child Left Behind zealous focus on high stakes standardized testing? Even before then, we were encouraged to “do our best” but always with the undertone that our best might not be good enough, and always overlaid with the quiet (but not silent) testing room, the Department of PreCrime assumption that we would cheat off each other, and the monotony of waiting for everyone else to finish, or the shame of running out of time.
I am writing today to assure you that you can break this cycle.
Our test or assessment requirement exists for one purpose and one purpose alone: to give you an external metric by which to measure your progress. That’s it. That is the one and only reason for it. It is not a goal to reach or a bar to meet. It exists because the public school people truly felt that, being with your kids 24/7/365, you would have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they excelled at and what they struggled with. They originally wanted a poor test score to force homeschoolers back in to the schools. The homeschoolers who were fighting for the creation of our law, bless them, said, “Great — we can do that — but if you do poorly as a public schooler, then you have homeschool,” which made them back pedal on that provision in a jiffy. (This is also why we have compulsory attendance, and not compulsory education — because if we had compulsory education, the public schools would be liable for quality).
So here we are, with a test or assessment requirement, which is there solely to help you. You need not teach to the test — if your kidlet is working at grade level in math and ELA, they will do just fine. If they aren’t, per the law, you are to make a good faith effort to remedy the deficit relative to their age or developmental stage. But these tests aren’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know. They really aren’t.
So I beseech you today to make your test or assessment setting a calm and — may I go so far as to say it?
Here’s what we used to do. We’d get special pencils and fun funky erasers for our testing period. We’d buy special “brain food” (sweet and salty snacks, usually from World Market or the Asian grocery that we didn’t normally stock up on. We’d get special “brain juice” (Ramune sodas). I’d let her decide: did she want to do a section each day? All the sections in a single day? Did she want to work in the morning, or the afternoon (or the evening?) Did she want to see the timer? hear the timer? not see the timer? not hear the timer? Did she want updates on the time left or not? She could change any of these at any time — thought she wanted to do it all in one day, but decided to call it quits after one section. No biggie. This is our test for us to do our way for our records.
- You can give your kidlet the same accommodations they would have had in school: time-and-half, headphones, reading the test to them — this is your test, these results are for you.
- You can choose not to test and to do an assessment instead. Your kidlet might not be involved in that at all, if you chose a company like FLO and do it via the mail.
The test or assessment requirement exists solely to provide you with an external metric by which to measure the progress that I swear to you you will already know you are (or aren’t) making. The deficit (if any) that it points to you needing to make a good faith effort to correct — you already have plans for that, because you already know what your kidlet is struggling with.
Do the thing that makes the most sense for your family, file away your scores, and do not spend another second fussing over this. It is not worth your time, effort, stress, or grief. Do it, and then forget about it until next year. And break that cycle of stress for your kidlet — like breaking the generational cycle of abuse, it’s an incredible gift to pass on.
~Jen Garrison Stuber, Advocacy Chair