Starting in the spring of her 2nd grade year, my daughter started having stomach aches and throwing up. We didn't know what was causing it, and she missed a lot of school. We took her to her pediatrician many times, and tried modifying her diet. None of that helped, so we were referred to a GI specialist. We were scared to death that it was ulcers or cancer or worse. The GI doctor put our 8 year old to sleep and put cameras in her intestines and down her throat. He checked every inch of her digestive tract. He came out of the room while she was still sedated and told us that our daughter is perfectly healthy, that she has anxiety. "Anxiety? She's only 8 years old!" We later asked her, and she admitted that she was scared of failing the "big TCAP test at school." (The SAT-10 test for 2nd graders). By the time we knew what the diagnosis was, the testing was over at school. She was so sick on the testing days that she missed school. She had to take the make-up tests in a custodial closet with a teacher's aide for 2 straight days. By the time we found out her "anxiety," it was the end of the school year. She didn't have another stomach ache all summer long.
The GI doctor told us it is quite common for students who are high-achievers or perfectionists to have anxiety over testing. He said he diagnoses more and more children with anxiety every year. But at 8 years old??? It makes me sick, as her Mom, to know my 8 year old child was burdened and stressed by inappropriate tests.
To be clear, it wasn't her teacher's fault. She's an awesome teacher who loves her students and gives 110%. She even won outstanding teacher of the year for our district. We know she didn't pressure students to score high on the test (even though it affects her evaluation and paycheck).
The entire school atmosphere changed a couple of months before SAT-10 and TCAP testing... The classroom walls were stripped bare, resembling a prison more than an elementary school. The music teacher taught songs about "Zapping the TCAP" and "Do the TCAP Rap." Students spent hours and hours bubbling in answers to trick questions in test-prep workbooks. Strangers arrived in their classrooms on testing days to "proctor" (sit in the room and stare as students take hours and hours of tests). How is this good for children??? And now, our district tests kindergartners & 1st graders this way, too! This is child abuse!!!
Since then, I have opted both of my children out of all testing and pre-testing this year. It was like a weight was lifted off of their shoulders when we told them they didn't have to do any more standardized tests like the CRA, TCAP, PARCC, Thinklink, Discovery Ed Probes, Compass Math Assessments, Tripod Surveys, or do any more TCAP prep-workbooks. (I honestly didn't realize that my children ever did all of this testing and test-prep until I researched it). Parents do not see our children's test results to most of these, nor are we allowed to even see the test questions. Parents do realize that our schools are very, very tight on money. It is obvious that our children's student:teacher ratios are larger than they have ever been and that the Arts & extra-curricular activities have been cut. All the money spent on these wasteful assessments is draining dollars that could be better spent on worthwhile things like smaller class sizes, music, art, counselors, librarians, nurses, etc.
Since we've opted our children out, their teachers and principals have been very understanding and respectful of our wishes. Even though it may affect their evaluations, their teachers told us they support us and that they think we are doing the right thing as parents. Two of their teachers even told me privately that they wished they could opt their own children out but are afraid to since they work for the district!
Their Principals said they are still researching what to do about the TCAP. Because it is state mandated, there is no way to opt out and they are required to give it to students. I don't want to jeopardize their jobs. So far, their suggestion is to keep our children home on testing days, and they will receive zero's on their final grades on their report cards. That's okay with us. We don't care about their letter grade. We trust their qualified teachers to teach and grade them fairly without an expensive standardized test full of trick questions we aren't ever allowed to see. Both of our girls are straight A students and we are very proud of them. No test in the universe can measure that.
(This was posted anonymously, with permission, to protect the privacy of these children and parents in Shelby County)
- Click HERE to see what a Senator in New Mexico plans to do about excessive testing in his State.
- Click HERE to see what Texas legislators did this past summer to reduce testing
- Click HERE to see what is currently happening in New York because their students took the PARCC last year (yes, PARCC is the same test that TN students are supposed to take next year) and 70% of their students were rated as failing. Their parents are furious at the NYBOE.
What’s the real motivation for standardized testing? It’s clearly a money-making business. Why are we spending all of this money on these expensive tests? and even more money on test-prep materials from the same companies that make and score the tests???
Tennessee parents want our tax money spent on students, and not on testing companies.