Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
"Don't worry about the test."
Those were the last words out of my mouth this morning as the car door slammed closed in the drop-off line in front of my children's elementary school.
Wednesday was the second day of STAAR testing for my fifth-grader.
The STAAR test, or the State of Texas Assessments of Aca-demic Readiness, was introduced last year as the quantifiable measurement of student success and school prowess in the state. It replaced the TAKS as the measurement of student achievement. Students in certain grades must pass their STAAR to promote to the next level.
The conversation in my house went something like this:
"Mom, I'm really stressed out about the reading STAAR today," said my fifth grader.
"Don't worry about it, it's only a test," I replied.
"But we have to pass it to go to the next grade," wailed my third grader.
During STAAR testing, my children's campus is pretty much shut down. Kids don't go to recess, they eat lunch in their classrooms to avoid causing a disruption in the hallways and parents are asked not to visit for lunch or deliver food/items to school.
I understand the need to provide the best testing environment for our children. I understand the need for a quantifiable assessment of both the students' achievements and the schools' proficiency.
What I don't understand is why my elementary school aged children are so stressed out about a test. In my thinking, they'd perform better if they were calm. If their entire routine wasn't disrupted. If they could go cut loose at recess or run around the gym to blow off some steam.
Now let me be clear that my kids don’t go to school in Cherokee County. I live in Smith County. Most of the aforementioned practices are suggested, if not spelled out, in the Texas Edu-cation Agency’s guidelines for test administration, which includes language such as, “The testing room should be quiet, well lighted, well ventilated, and comfortable. Each student must have enough space in which to work. Bulletin boards and instructional displays that might aid students during testing must be covered or removed. Any rooms to which students may be relocated must also be prepared. Books and other materials not used for testing must be cleared from desks and computers. A ‘Testing – Do Not Disturb’ sign should be posted outside the testing room.”
All reasonable re-quests to ensure validity of results. But it still adds to the heightened pressure I see my children feeling.
Jacksonville ISD is a little more flexible, which I think is a wonderful thing.
According to district public information officer Marc McCloud, each campus can implement their own rules, which can include monitored breaks (students cannot discuss the tests at all) and lunch periods and time to “run around” in a gym or outside. Lunch can be in the cafeteria or in classrooms (again, monitored).
But I still feel like too much emphasis is placed on these two days a year.
So I told my son today, "Take your time. Be calm. Read the questions. Check your work. Do not race to finish. And do not worry about the test."
Does that make me a bad mom?