The other day Dylan came home with a note from his teacher explaining that he was showing a tendency to rush important class instructions during their focus on state testing. Apparently, among other things, he’d managed to complete part of a test in less than an hour, when it was expected that each kid will work on it off and on for two weeks. I will be interested to see his results, the teacher had written, ominously.

Yeah well maybe he’s just a genius, I thought with irritation, before sliding my glance over at the MENSA-approved child in question who was 1) wearing a shirt both inside out and backwards, and 2) embroiled in a robust armpit-fart competition with his brother.

After a lot of questioning and some confusing answers it turns out that Dylan had mistakenly completed the test without writing anything in the essay part, even though the system requires that something be entered in the box, so maybe he just clicked some random keys or typed “BUTTS,” who knows. I delivered a halfhearted lecture about paying attention in class and slowing down to make sure his work is done correctly, but I can’t find the gravitas the note seemed to imply I should. I hate that third graders are subjected to state testing, and the truth is, I don’t much care if he flunks the entire thing.

He’s 9. He’s sweet-natured, never acts out in school, loves reading and writing and animals and can tell you the name of every actor who’s ever been in The Walking Dead. He’s dreamy and easily distracted and far more used to clicking YouTube videos than participating in weeks-long class assignments.

When I dropped him off this morning, two boys immediately ran over to greet him. My once-too-shy-to-make-friends kid went walking into school as he always does these days, flanked by his buddies, everyone laughing and talking a mile a minute.

You ask me, his results look just fine.


16 Responses to “Standardized”

  1. Kristi on May 25th, 2017 9:36 am

    EXACTLY! I am so glad to hear another mother utter those words.

  2. Taerna on May 25th, 2017 10:11 am

    All the yeses. Enjoy summer, mama. Let those boys get dirty and run and fart all day. We straight up ignored homework for the last month of kindergarten this year. IT’S KINDERGARTEN.

  3. Barb on May 25th, 2017 10:24 am

    I think he’s doing great!

    I’ve got nothing good to say about standardized testing. It has changed school culture so much and not for the better. I can appreciate that the impetus was to improve schools, especially struggling ones, but it’s done the opposite. The focus is on the wrong damn thing, and our kids are paying the price.

    I’ve always told my kids, “I don’t care how you do. These tests cannot measure how well you do in school or how much you know.” But now I’ve got a child in high school and his ability to graduate hinges on passing the damn standardized tests. I’m not worried about him (he’s an excellent test-taker), but it’s infuriating to me that any child’s future could be threatened by a standardized test.

    (I have a soapbox. It’s labeled “Schools Today.” I’ll… hop off it now.)

  4. Pete on May 25th, 2017 10:58 am

    We have one party that demands ‘Accountability’ from a system that is hard to measure. From that we get standardized testing, and teachers worried about the tests because that’s how they are judged. I thing the right won’t be happy until everyone is home schooled. I miss the days when kids could have fun growing up.

  5. Pete on May 25th, 2017 11:07 am

    Great looking bird BTW.

  6. Erin on May 25th, 2017 11:08 am

    Cannot agree with you enough!!!!!! I always try to keep in mind that these people in their professions are always going to assume the topic of their profession is the end-all-be-all of the entire world and that every human should take their ideas very seriously because they do. For example, the teacher thinks every kid should behave in the exact same “approved” way, that all kids and their parents should consider academics to be THE most important part of schooling, that dentists think everyone should live life according to their set of rules to have perfect teeth, that a Bootcamp instructor thinks all people should take fitness as seriously as they do, that all insurance agents think we should have all of their insurance products in place to protect us, that all people who want to strive to be the most “successful” and most “productive” with their time think everyone should be constantly striving as they do ………. and so on and so forth. Your boy is more than fine and the end-all-be-all is that he should be happy being himself and to feel loved and accepted by his parents. That’s the gold right there. And plus, any “quirks” people have, might be THE attribute they need to be successful in the path they love the most. The kid who rushes, or is distracted, or is creative, or is talkative/disruptive etc. etc. might become the very best at something that is bigger than any test score or perfect grade ever will be. Not everyone is meant to be a model perfect student that fits inside their approved box. You’re doing great mama!

  7. Irishkel on May 25th, 2017 11:35 am

    I just got a similar note for my 12 year old. He is “easily distracted”. He has a 99 average in the class. What am I supposed to do? Go to class and nudge him every time he gets bored. Ugh. I guess the 1% of class he’s zoning out on is super important.

  8. Megan on May 25th, 2017 12:53 pm

    I work in a Eugene elementary school and let me just say, the state tests are AWFUL. They reflect exactly NOTHING about the students and basically the entire time from Spring Break until the end of school, they learn NOTHING because so much time is devoted to these test. I would apologize for all the CAP LOCK nonsense, but GRRRRRRRR! Your sons are doing just fine, I would write “butts” for the essay section, too.

  9. Amy on May 25th, 2017 1:57 pm

    Oh dear f-ing lord. I’ve been reading you for maybe 7 years?! You’re raising a GOOD boy, future humane humans! In this day, that is a miracle and a value. If this doesn’t help—my nine year old is going into her third school in as many years because ” she’s an out of the box learner.” I could sail a fleet of paper ships with all the ” notes” that have come my way. And, She’s who I want to be when I grow up. ;-)
    And if that doesn’t cheer this note writing teacher situation?… I lived on ” when in doubt choose C in high school.” and managed to get a masters anyway. Stay the course, you’re raising some good ones.

  10. Nicole on May 25th, 2017 2:06 pm

    First of all, I’ve been following you since Dylan was a baby and OMG look at him – Such a handsome (big) kid now! Gah! Makes my heart ache! My son Riley, also in the 3rd grade (he’ll be 9 tomorrow) was recently tested for the gifted program (by his teacher’s recommendation), and didn’t pass. I was really put-out at first because dammit, he is very smart and is always top of his class. Also, yeah, there is that feeling of “Oh, god… maybe I’ve let him watch too many Jacksepticeye videos on YouTube and it’s damaged his once highly gifted brain!” But then I got the most amazing keepsake from his teacher – A book of “love” letters from all the students in his class. They said things like: you are so smart and obedient (haha!) and really good at kickball… and nice and kind and a good friend and funny and “strange in a good way” and “thank you for helping me with my homework” (lots of those). The teacher wrote that my son is a role model who works hard and always leads with love and kindness. And I couldn’t be prouder of Riley if he was accepted into Mensa! Those tests don’t measure what I feel are the most important qualities of a person – character and heart. And I am so happy that my “strange in a good way” son has both.

  11. jennbb33 on May 26th, 2017 5:45 am

    My kid (who turns 9 next week)is in the same boat. He does have ADHD and is on an IEP – he is behind in his learning and I am grateful for the interventions that he is receiving – but as far as standardized testing, I SUCK AT IT STILL and if my kids can’t do it, I have a pretty good idea why that might be.

    He is also profoundly deaf in his left ear and has been since birth (that was only, finally diagnosed in 2016) so methinks that would be why he is behind. Want to try it? Plug your left ear for a day and tell me what you miss. Then go to school/work for 2-1/2 years and tell me if you’re behind. It wasn’t because we weren’t diligent; it’s because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get a diagnosis on a kid until they are ready to sit still and be tested. And when there is not a critical nerve that didn’t form in utero, well, that can’t be fixed. Could we have done anything differently, or fixed it sooner? No.

    I am grateful that both of my kids are bright in their own way. So long as they are educated, can survive/cook on their own and know how to do basic adulting things when it’s time, I’m good. They both know they have to choose a life that they will be able to support themselves doing. They both are aware of substance abuse issues. Every day they teach me something new about themselves.

    Bottom line: they are not robots. Standardized testing likes robots.
    Your kids aren’t robots either. Most kids – thankfully – aren’t.

  12. Olivia on May 26th, 2017 7:03 am

    Sounds like he’s doing great to me. My oldest will be in third grade in the fall and I can already say I can’t be arsed to care about the state tests. Everybody hates the tests and I wish we could just have a huge revolt against them.

  13. Jessica V on May 26th, 2017 8:52 am

    I totally hope he typed “Butts” in the essay section!

  14. Andrea on May 27th, 2017 1:59 am

    Way back about 16 years ago, my now 24 year old rocket scientist (seriously, he really is) was in 2d grade the “standardized testing” portion of the year rolled around. Didn’t give it much thought, other than to make sure he had a good breakfast, got good sleep, and enough time to run around and just be a kid. So August rolls around with the ominous “STAR testing packet.” The scores were all over the place. I mean really high on one portion of the english component, and really low on another, and the math, at least I thought the math would be consistent. So I asked him what had happened with the testing, if he could remember at all. He said, “Oh year, those things were so boring, I just decided to make my own patterns and fill in the bubbles.” I wondered if I were going to get a phone call suggesting we do some academic testing to figure out where the learning challenges were coming from. Somewhere along the line he must have figured it out, or someone talked to him about it, because I never did. Middle son hated standardized testing with a passion, but was/is such a rule follower I don’t think it would have occurred to him to buck the system in any way. My daughter was never happier filling all those little bubbles in. Go figure, to each their own, and there are manymanymany paths to get where they want/need to be. I’ve always thought it is up to them to figure it out, and I’m the cheerleader/support person/team manager.I can’t do it for them. There were days when I questioned whether or not my oldest would even graduate from high school because he just didn’t turn stuff in. Even stuff he had finished, it just languished in his backpack! Never would I have thought pursuing a graduate degree would ever be on his radar. He’ll get to add a couple more letters at the end of his name in December, and it is all his doing.

  15. Misti on May 30th, 2017 9:37 am

    As a high school teacher, I get why the teacher probably emailed you with importance (we’re instructed to do this), but as a human being, I agree with you 100%. Kids need to be treated as kids. A week long project for my AP World History students is too long, much less a young boy in elementary school.

    Standardized tests are for the birds.

  16. Hanna Nelson on June 2nd, 2017 2:16 pm

    Opt out! (We did.)

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