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Monday, April 7, 2014

It's that time again...

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Please excuse the repost of a repost, but it's time for standarized testing again and I can't think of a better way to express my continued unhappiness with a system that thinks test scores are more important than children.

Dear Class,

You should not read this blog because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten, but there are some things I want to say and this is the place I always come to when I need to work out my thoughts.

There are just some things people shouldn't know about their kindergarten teachers. Things you shouldn't know about me. The day you stop believing that I live in our class room, have Santa on speed dial and am close personal friends with Zero the Hero is the day the world begins to lose some of it's magic and you start to believe stupid things like standardized test scores being more important than fairy tales and daydreams.

There are a few things that are more important than fairy tales and daydreams. A standardized test score isn't one of those things.

I want you to know that I am sorry. I am sorry that in around 9 hours I'll be responsible for giving you a standardized test. I am sorry that from this day forward you will be constantly bombarded with standardized test in school. I am sorry that someone somewhere, someone who doesn't know you and hasn't met you will draw conclusions about who you are and how successful you'll be in life based on how well you score on these standardized tests. I am sorry because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you should be playing instead of testing.

You were sent home from school on Monday and told to get a good nights sleep and to eat a good breakfast before coming back to class. You should be sleeping now. I should be sleeping now.

I can't sleep because I'm worried about you. I've thought all night about what I can say to encourage you; to remind you of just how wonderful you are. Right now, it feels important for me to say that while you are, can and will be lots of things it is the thing that you aren't that matters most.

You are not a test score!

Through the years you will be forced to sit through more of these tests than anyone can count and you will have teachers who will handle them differently. Some teachers will try to make you believe that the future of the entire world depends on how well you score, others will simply tell you to do your best and trust that you will. I hope that I have been like the latter, but fear that I have probably jumped back and forth between the extremes. I am sorry if I have made you feel pressured to do well. I am sorry because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.

There will be questions on this test that you can't answer. I know that you will look at me with pleading eyes expecting help. I am sorry that I won't be able to offer that help. Please understand that it makes me as sad as it will make you. It makes me sad because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.

You will take lots of test during your educational career. Some will be long, others short. Some will take forever to finish and others will go quickly. Some tests you will enjoy and find easy; others ~ not so much. Just remember that there is more to you than any test score can ever reveal.

Through the years you will take some important tests too. Your courage will be tested. Your faith, loyalty, honesty, willpower, integrity and patience will all be tested. These are the only tests that really matter. The only tests I truly hope you never have to say you've failed.

I am tired now so I am going to try to sleep. When I see you in class I will smile and remind you to go to the bathroom, to listen carefully to the directions, to think about your answers and to do your best.

That's all you need to do. Nothing more and nothing less. Leave all the worrying to me because you are five or six and you are in kindergarten and you are not a test score.


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