All around North Carolina-
This morning I kissed my 9 year old son on the forehead and whispered that I loved him. He headed with my wife to school today. This was not an ordinary school day. This is a day that could make or break my son's future educational career. Failure to meet a score on a standardized reading test could force my child being retained instead of going to fourth grade.
Granted there will be 2 other opportunities to retake the test and a summer school opportunity, but why are we putting millions of taxpayer monies towards this testing agenda?
It has been a year of seemingly nothing but tests in 3rd Grade for my son. He is not a gifted reader. He struggles for comprehension and speed. In addition to the EOG ( End of Year) tests, he has taken the BOG (Beginning of Year), benchmark testing, and something called the Reading Portfolio. And other sets of reading tests I am sure I missed. On top of these tests, the kids have taken a series of practice tests.
The Portfolio is essentially 36 individual tests designed to measure reading progress over 12 reading standards created by groups appointed by GOP politicians. Each test involves a passage to read followed by 5 comprehension questions meant to force a child to analyze, compare, and retain. Passage means 4 out of 5 questions. Failure of a test means retesting the entire standard (3 more passages) Originally, many of the passages were considered 7-9th grade reading levels. Don't forget the practice tests.
Completion of the portfolio is supposed to allow a student and alternative way for a student to get into the fourth grade. As of today, we have had no word from our teacher if our son has passed all 12 standards. We believe this is because the EOG test is also meant as high stakes for the teacher and school principal. Good test performance by students means bonuses for the teacher and principal. (measured by 80% scores, 20% growth)
My son thinks he has passed all 12 standards, but goes into today's test thinking he needs to pass to go to fourth grade. It is just the way the teacher wants it. By the way, my son tests above average in math. Many kids ask him for math help during the school day.
We had an all 3rd grade meeting with staff at the beginning of the year to discuss the tests. The principal started the meeting with this:
The 3rd Grade teachers and myself are here in agreement that this is a terrible way to teach your kids. Testing over and over is not teaching. But we are mandated by the State of North Carolina to give these tests.So whatever happens, we will be prepared. I expect my son to move on to the next grade. All this testing seems a little too much for a 9th grader let alone a 3rd grader. Having spoke to educational leaders in other states that actually have high achievement, they see this as a silly and hurtful idea. It will leave many kids with a "F" scar to carry around with them for the rest of their lives.
By the way, the Read to Achieve Law was passed with all Republican help. The law was championed was by GOP Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger.
I will pick my son up in a couple of hours and give him a huge hug. He has worked hard this year and has grown up a lot. I hope the Scantron sheet picks this up too.
Tomorrow is the math test.