My Little Test Taker

(This was written/posted about a week ago…then WordPress opened  on my iPhone in my bag to my posts page, and I deleted this post on accident. Ugh. Therefore–repost!)

Sunday afternoon/evening brings the inevitable “Have you done all your homework?” question to Alexandra, our first grader. Each weekend she has to read two level-appropriate books, do a Scholastic worksheet, and complete a Math game of some sort. As I sat at our table with her to complete her Scholastic worksheet (which I find mind-numbingly boring, even for a first grader), I couldn’t help but notice something. Look at this worksheet. Do you see what I see?

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Bubbling practice. This is the first I have seen of bubbling on a sent-home worksheet, but I know WHY it is there. It is there to get her to become an expert of reading comprehension questions and to select the best answer by filling in a circle. Alexandra won’t be tested (officially) until third grade. She is in FIRST GRADE now.

But I thought maybe it was just me–little ol’ “what the eff is happening to our public education system?!” complaining, whining, bitching and moaning me.

Then she asked if we could use her RazKids account. RazKids is an online reading program that we had to pay $5 to access for our first grade child. We had just gotten the login and password, so I sat down with her and logged her in. It had a library of books she could choose from, and she chose on about a giant panda. A strange male voice read her the book (with a faint Chinese accent–due to the panda content?), and I thought, “Hmmm…this is cool. Now I don’t have to read to her as much” (Shameful, I know. I wasn’t even sure I should admit that, but it’s the truth…). Everything seemed cool until the book ended and guess what was there?

A reading comprehension quiz.

Now I am all about asking comprehension questions to a child as s/he reads, but I don’t like/want them to feel that I am quizzing them on what was just read. I want them to think/realize/learn that readers actually talk about the books they read, that reading leads to intellectual conversation about topics, ideas, interpretations, characters, experiences….and on and on and on. But no, this program presented my 6 year old daughter with a quiz, and–you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess this one–it was multiple choice. Just like a standardized test.

Additionally, what really got my goat was that this quiz asked questions on concepts such as main idea. My daughter, who is one of the top readers in her class, hadn’t been taught main idea yet–or at least not the term “main idea.” So when we got to this question below, I had to try to teach main idea to her. Not because she was ready to learn it, not because she had gotten the main idea herself and it was simply a matter of me connecting her knowledge to the actual term, but because she was TAKING THIS STUPID QUIZ WHICH WAS IMPLICITLY PREPPING HER FOR FUTURE HIGH STAKES TESTING.

Being a teacher in this system was exhausting, but being a parent is exhausting on a whole new level.

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