EOGs and the Stress of Tests

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Got the note from school on Monday that there will be a flexible lunch schedule this Thursday, May 21 and Friday, May 22 due to end-of-grade testing. It requested that parents not come have lunch with their children on these days. Sigh. End-of-grade testing. I’m not directly affected yet, but it’s coming. My son is wrapping up kindergarten. For those kiddos, I’m a proponent of letting kids learn through play, but more and more that’s going to the wayside because even the 5-year-olds have to meet these set standards. My son has gone through numerous assessments, but he doesn’t have a formal standardized end-of-year test to take … yet.

Students in grades three to eight are taking those tests this week. I’ve heard comments from a few moms with kids in third grade that the stress set in about a month ago. The “teaching to the test” in preparation for those dandy little bubble sheets of standardized learning had begun. I remember taking EOG tests. They didn’t seem to be such a big deal back then. I don’t know if that’s because they didn’t carry as much weight toward teacher pay raises and overall school rankings, but it just seemed like something that happened. And yes you had to pass to pass the grade, but no one seemed overly stressed about it. Times have changed.

Another mom with a child in third grade at my son’s school was on her way to check out a private school last week. This decision after multiple letters had gone home suggesting her daughter, who is making As and Bs on report cards, might not pass the third grade do to not making the score on a core competency test. Apparently her daughter isn’t the only one who is in this gray area of not passing this certain test, and she’s been told they likely won’t hold her back, but she and other students who didn’t pass the core competency would be pulled out of class next year to catch up on that competency. But doesn’t that take away from the time in class to learn what she’s supposed to be learning in fourth grade? And if she’s making As and Bs … well something simply doesn’t add up.

I believe that some sort of standard of comparison is necessary to keep kids on target and moving forward in the education system. But I also believe that right now testing and score keeping is spiraling out of control. It feels like a game of politics more than doing what’s best for our children, and teachers and kids get stuck in the middle. And the hype of it all is stressing kids out. Kids do not need to be stressed over standardized tests.

What are your thoughts on the EOGS? Know anyone who refused for their children to take the tests this year? North Carolina doesn’t have an opt out policy, so you do have to refuse, but it’s an option. I’d like to hear what other parents think and are experiencing. In the meanwhile, if your kids are taking tests this week, be sure and give them some extra encouragement, be sure they get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast before they head out to school, and remind them to simply read the questions and take their time thinking through things while taking the test.