The Education Elephant is in the Room and He’s Sitting on Me…Again

This might be a whiny, ranty bitch session about education, so if this is not near or dear to your heart or you wanna tell me to suck it up… move along because today I own these feelings and I need to get them out. However I will try to stay coherent.

I made my baby cry in class today. I failed and I made things worse. I’m stressed, she’s stressed and Lord knows the teacher is stressed! Her teacher wanted me to see her work. *sigh* We’ve been trying so hard to work on some issues she has.

I’m just going to say it….This year’s state tests are ridiculous. The kids are all in a panic, it’s their first year as 3rd graders taking them and in the process they’re being told that the teachers have no idea what’s on the tests because the DOE is overhauling the system with the new ‘Common Core Standards’.

To exacerbate the situation, the private companies that are contracted to write these tests are right onto implementing the new curriculum because, of course, time is money…but the teachers now have to scramble to teach it in time… And catch the kids up, and fill in ALL the holes that the ‘standard’ BEFORE this new common core has left. So… not all the material will have been taught by the time the tests are taken. What’s that you say? How can you take a test when you haven’t been taught some of the material that might or might not be on it, but you’re not sure… and then be graded appropriately and at the correct level? Hard to follow?

My point exactly.

How do you think the kids feel.It’s like going for your written driver’s license test but the book they give you to study is missing half of the information you need, yet it’s on the test! Crazy right?!

The system is broken. There I said it. My children are in a broken system. It’s run by politicians. We know it’s broken. How can it be anything but broken, when funds continue to be cut. You can’t do more with less. No Child Left Behind failed. Children need to be left behind if they can’t do the work but over the last few years since NCLB was dropped, the standards have also been raised, which in my opinion is setting children up to fail anyway! The new inititive, this ‘Race to the Top’ thing, isn’t much better.  When New York City’s DOE admits that this year, they expect up to 80% of students in some districts to fail these tests… what are they doing? What are they trying to achieve? It’s all a bit moronic, right?!

test meme

Did they wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, the kids coming out of the end of High school aren’t college ready because we’ve just been promoting them on anyway, regardless of work standard, so now we’re gonna make the curriculum harder, put more pressure on everyone, that’ll fix it.’ That doesn’t make any sense.

Over the years that I’ve been helping in one of the kindergarten classes at school, (4 consecutive years now) the standards have changed so much that the teachers are stressed and stretched to the limit and more children are staying behind. The problem isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. To add insult to injury it breeds a feeling of failure and kids doubting themselves, when in fact, his or her abilities are age appropriate but the expectations aren’t. It makes me so mad!

Let’s use my beautiful little Miss Gremlin as a perfect example. She is smart, she has extended vocabulary, she is reading on a 6th grade level in the 3rd grade… but her handwriting is atrocious. She’s in 3rd grade and it’s illegible. Why? not because she can’t do it but because right back from day one when she was learning to form her letters she wasn’t told to do it again. She wasn’t told it wasn’t good enough. There simply wasn’t time… The standards that were put in place insisted that kindergarteners produce pages and pages of writing. It was all about the ‘content’ and getting the ideas down on paper. The more the better, they were expected to be writing 3-4 sentences a page and up to 3 pages. But trying to get 20 kids to extend their writing at age 5 doesn’t leave room for correction on penmanship, which by the way is no longer considered a subject. As she went on it wasn’t addressed in 1st grade, 2nd grade and now here we are in 3rd and I have to teach her to write so that they can read it when they score the test. It’s not any of the teachers’ fault, they don’t have time, they are pushed so hard. They don’t even have time to teach the curriculum that’s set for the year. How can they possibly spend more time on individual children who need extra instruction on things that weren’t addressed the previous year or even years as is Miss Gremlin’s case.

She’s a normal child who has still managed to slip through the cracks.

I’m worried for her, she’s worried. It’s an added stress these kids just don’t need. Even Grand Master D who has taken these tests for years now, said he’s worried because everyone is focused on how hard the test will be. It’s the fear of the unknown and it’s not fair. We all acknowledge the system is broken but why can’t the  new standards be phased in, instead of dumping it on kids across the board in one fell swoop, knowing full well that a large percentage will fail. How will that affect the learning psyche of students in the future. I wonder has there been a study done on that. There must be a better way. I really hope it can be found.

Are your kids testing this year? Are they changing the standards on the fly in your district?



Comments 32

  1. I work in educational publishing and I know the pressure to incorporate the Common Core State Standards into everything we do. Everything seems so mechanical now. I can imagine the pressure students, teachers, and parents feel.

    1. Post
  2. My daughter’s in 2nd grade and they did the standardized testing thing this year. Letters came home about how “important” this testing was, and to write her a special note each day to help calm her down (which would only serve to point out that something STRESSFUL was going on… HELLOOO?!).

    Instead, I sat her down and said, “These tests are stupid. I don’t care how well you do. Try your best and then move on. Either way, we still have pizza for dinner once a week, skate party once a month, library visits all the time, and snuggles. These tests have nothing to do with your life. They mean absolutely NOTHING.”

    When she argued that her teacher said they are important, I had to pull out the mommy rule book — the one that says, “Mommies know WAAAAAY more than teachers, sweet pea. Your teacher is very smart, and she knows a whole lot, but everybody makes mistakes. Remember how mommy farts sometimes and it’s embarrassing? Well, your teacher farted just then. She messed up. She got it wrong. This test is doo-doo. Don’t even sweat it.”

    My daughter reads well above her grade level and she has mastered cursive beautifully. I have a whole summer program I do with her to keep her moving down the educational river at a good pace. Those summer bridge workbooks are a nice start, but I also make her write a story, draw a picture, read a book, do some math problems (thank you, internet), and prepare a letter for someone to put into the mail. She does each of these tasks during the summer DAILY, and when I add chores like making her bed, picking up her room, and putting away her own laundry, that’s a good 1-2 hours she is completely immersed in important stuff while at the same time staying out of my hair. It’s a win-win. Also? A great time to double-check that handwriting isn’t getting lazy and slipshod.

    1. Post

      Ok first of all you just won my heart! I think we maybe be related. Secondly, refer to number 1. It’s so hard to keep them stimulated without adding pressure. 2nd grade is too early for testing and eventually it will come to light that ‘Hey we were wrong!’ Until then we’ll just have to do our best to keep it moving and keep it fun…
      Thanks for coming by!

  3. My daughter isn’t testing this year, but she is already in a mild panic about testing next year. She is a second grader! Why in the hell should she be worried about a standardized test she won’t be taking for a year!!

    I absolutely agree that the system is borked – for all involved, except the ones making the decisions to take money, etc. Though – as bad as it is right now (and my daughter is currently succesful, thank goodness, but next year is the test year) I am scared to death about middle school.

    I just do not remember school being this stressful this early when growing up.

  4. WOW! That is so ridiculous. I really had no idea this transition was going on. Seriously, though, 80% are expected to fail? The system really is broken. I remember being supremely anxious about taking standardized tests throughout my years of education, and I feel for young children like yours who should be educated in a wholesome way and not “to the test.” They are too young to be so stressed out! My heart hurts for them, and I’m worried about my son facing similar challenges as he grows older.

    1. Post

      It’s really terrible. Kids were crying, so many couldn’t finish them. Very upsetting. I really hope they are scrapped soon. They’re not helping to educate our children at all. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I know this is an older post but I had to let you know that I am dealing with the penmanship issue RIGHT NOW with my son who is in Kindergarten. His Monday assignments are to get familiar with his 5 sight words for the week. At the beginning of the year, they had to write each word 3 times…. after Christmas break, I noticed he now has to write each word FIVE times. It is so stressful. My husband usually helps him with his homework (so I can help the 4th grader) so a couple weeks passed and I noticed my Kindergartener’s handwriting had become almost completely illegible. So I told my husband I’d had enough. He would go back to writing them 3x each and we work on his handwriting. I’m his mother dammit! I emailed his teacher and let her know he would only be writing the words 3x instead of 5x and I prepared for a backlash… it never came. She replied to me with a “Thank you for letting me know and for working with him at home on his penmanship.” I guess I expected her to say something “yes, I’ve noticed his penmanship has declined…” but no, just thankful that I noticed it MYSELF and stood up for him to make this change knowing it will be better.
    That’s what else this curriculum and these tests have done. They have put a hush on so many teachers where they can’t ‘recommend’ anything without the parent first bringing it up. That is absolutely ridiculous!
    One more thing, my 4th grader came home from school around December (after being in school since August) and told me there is a kid in his class who can NOT read. He can’t read anything, is what I was told. I’m sure it’s because there are 31 students in this class with 1 teacher… so for damn near 4 months no one noticed that he couldn’t read?! And here we are … almost May, and the child is still in his class. I’m so done with public school. I filed a notice of intent to homeschool but this is not what I wanted. It’s ridiculous.
    (So sorry to go completely off… I get so worked up lol)

    1. Post

      Oh I understand your pain. My Daughter commented today that they’ve been on no trips this year at all! They usually go out of the building a bit to use the city as an educational tool. Not this year apparently.
      Thanks for visiting. I’m sorry you are having a tough time. The teachers are so overwhelmed with this bullshit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *