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Standardized Testing in elementary school - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
He is swiveling gently in our cow chair knee socks up to his shins. I like the knee socks, a gift from his grandma, they remind me of my own time in fourth grade, but I wonder why I can see them. “Shorts?” I ask him in a tone that is neither instructive nor nagging. “I’m staying in for recess.” He explains. His tone is neutral like mine but quickly his face crumbles. “I hate iReady” he tells me. It is the refrain of his fourth grade year. At the beginning he was love and light. It was his best year ever he ADORED his teachers and his work. He quit Minecraft to be able to “focus on fourth grade.” He was determined not to miss a single homework assignment. Workbooks were always at hand, pencils sharpened, and Steve and I shared an expression of pleased disbelief. We didn’t want to move too quickly or look too closely in case we upset some delicate balance we were ill equipped to understand. This lasted through November. Then slowly the cracks came. “I hate iReady” he said. He explained they were expected to do a half an hour of reading and math on the program a week at home. Like the knee jerk liberal I am I instantly wondered about the other families. Did they have computers? At the middle school level we are working on a technology grant that includes internet access to the homes of 45 percent of the students at our school. I assumed someone was taking this on for elementary and tuned back into Leo. “I can’t stand it” he tells me. “I get it wrong on purpose just to have it end.” Since the sessions were timed this didn’t make much sense. Our boys are doing very well academically so we have the luxury of allowing them to do their homework with no intervention. We assume that learning time management and how to fail and try again are the primary point of homework at this age. As for iReady we decided allow school expectations and natural consequences to take care of his reluctance to complete his assignments. Then came parent teacher conferences where we raved to his teachers about his best school experience ever and they expressed their satisfaction with him as a student and a classroom citizen. In addition to their smiles they had a stapled packet. On it were the assessment scores for iReady. “Yeah…” I said. “Leo doesn’t love iReady.” Despite his lack of love his scores on the program from in class efforts ranged from good enough to great. Somehow good enough wasn’t good enough. “Well ,Leo says he gets the answers wrong on purpose to make the test stop.” Six eyes turn to me. Steve is not expecting this irrational excuse and I am instantly wishing that I didn’t sound like a fourth grader. Maybe it is the medium sized chair that I have squeezed into. “That’s not how it works” explain the ...