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25 April 2011 @ 08:29 am
I have a dander, and it is up.  
That's too much information for some of you. Apologies.

What's got me all riled this morning is standardized testing. Just the mention of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) Test, the latest in a long line of similar examinations, is enough to get my eyes rolling and for me to huff in displeasure, repeatedly.

You haven't lived til you hear me huff. It'll send chills down your spine.

In any case, several times a year, the schools in Texas get in a tizzy about the childrens' performance on the TAKS test. It seems that they're less concerned about the individual child and what they learn throughout the year, than the school's score in the eyes of the state of Texas. Now, this may not be true. But as a former educator (Heh - I taught Theatre. TAKS that!), I was a part of the system. They had me give my students math review for the TAKS. Lord knows how those kids did that year - and I'm not kidding. Another, much more annoying aspect of the test is that they spend all year - literally ALL YEAR - teaching to this test. There is no going off the curriculum, no room for freedom in education; taking a side road down something that the children might find interesting, yet still counts as worthwhile knowledge simply isn't allowed.

Because the eyes of Texas are upon you. All the live long day, apparently.

Let me back up. No one is more state proud than I am. I love Texas. I love that I'm a Texan. Sometimes I think Texas should secede from the union and be its own independent country, but I just don't enjoy the state of Texas telling my kids that they don't have time to learn about something because it's not on the TAKS test.

I get the reason Big Brother does it, by the by. I know that they have to have some way to see if the schools are giving our kids the knowledge that they allegedly need to be productive members of society. But the TAKS, and next year's successor, the STAR test, have made this into something bigger than it needs to be. It's huge - an unrestrained animal prowling around the state, scaring our kids to death.

That's another thing. The kids are exhausted by these tests. It comes from above, I know - the state pounds the superintendent, who pounds the principals, who pound the teachers, who threaten and bribe the kids, who take the test in the house that Jack built. The students are weary of these tests, stressed out by them and cannot wait til they're over. What's more, the school sends home a letter telling us to FEED OUR CHILDREN BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING OF THE TEST.

Is that optional? I feed my children breakfast every morning, because - wait for it - I take my job as a mother seriously. It's my job. Yet the school stresses that the kids need to have a "good" breakfast, whatever that is, and my kids mention it six or seven times to me in the week preceding the tests. Like all of a sudden I'm going to put a lock on the kitchen door and say, "No. You have to forage for nuts and berries on your way to school - get out." I make them the same sort of breakfast I do every morning because "good" is relative. Good for me involves stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, which would put Ethan and AJ into a food coma an hour later.

But what's really annoying me (as if there weren't enough already) is that we have to send snacks off an approved list for the kids to eat on TAKS testing days. Apparently there are some parents who sent Twinkies and Ding Dongs as snacks, and now THAT'S regulated by big brother as well?

I know I have choices. I could send my kiddos to a private school. Though, we pay an assload (technical term) in taxes that pay for our kids education. If the state would forego that fee and let me spend it to have my kids go somewhere else, I'd do it in a heartbeat. The other option is homeschooling.

If I homeschooled my boys, they'd know how to write, emote, and perform one heck of a killer monologue, but would have no concept of either math of geography.

So I'm stuck with the TAKS. Curses. Foiled again.
I feel:: awakeawake
I hear:: Do-Do's & Woah-Ohs - Kisschasy
Jessica K Malfoyjessicakmalfoy on April 25th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
Oops that comment was me!
dragonsangel68: HP - Draco don't make me godragonsangel68 on April 25th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
We have standardized testing as well, and it's all about school ranking and nothing whatsoever to do with whether individual students are getting the education they deserve. It gets my dander up as well, but there's little we can do to change that system, because school ranking is everything in terms of funding (at least over here it is).

I find it hysterical that they tell us to actually feed our children on that day - yes, we get told too - as if we don't feed them every day *rolls eyes*
Lauradream_mancer on April 25th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Our standardized tests were a joke. In the reading section, we had the same passages and the same questions in the same order from the time I was in the seventh grade up until I was a junior.

The only good thing about our school was that teachers made their own lesson plans and everything was approved when we got accredited. Of course, we had a class solely dedicated on the Bible, and you can't really do a test on that for the state.

I try not to mention standardized tests around my mother, because as a teacher and a principal, she thinks the things are the devil. She gets more ruffled than a cat about to be forced into taking a bath. And as for the letters telling us to eat breakfast before the tests, *snort*. I remember those.
Sharlenemynuet on April 25th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
For most of middle and high school, I didn't eat breakfast because there wasn't anything in the house to eat. I ate school lunch, a bowl of cornflakes when I got home, sometimes without milk, and then dinner would either be a meal - protein and starch or pasta and sauce - or another bowl of cornflakes.

I'm pretty sure that's the target audience for the breakfast reminders.
seegrimseegrim on April 25th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
My kids are doing testing this week, too.

Becca wanted one of her hard-boiled Easter eggs and I have a sneaking suspicion Emma had some left over strawberry shortcake for breakfast while I was taking Becca to school. :D
Elleelvishly on April 25th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this video?

Carrie Leigh: emoticon cheerleadercarrie_leigh on April 26th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
That's brilliant. Perfectly put.
Jandy the Gnome Whisperer: Jim - Headdeskjandjsalmon on April 25th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
Our standardized tests are only grade 3, 6, 9, and 12. I think that takes a wee bit of the pressure off anyway. They're still silly though - because some really brilliant children just suck at testing period.

Though I'm kinda partial to the 'foraging for nuts and berries' thing. Ben is a nightmare when it comes to breakfast - I wish as a parent you could just say 'FORAGE for YOURSELF!' *g*
O Demanding Oneheyurs on April 25th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)

It's all a big mess and nightmare. Welcome to it for the next few years, Love. I have been in school with Trei since day one, and like you, I hated being questioned as to what I did as a parent, such as feeding. But being so heavily involved, I realized that sadly and unfortunately there are hundreds of students in each grade that do NOT get any parental input in their day to day lives. I've picked many a child up and took many home and fed them, too. :/ Sometimes I never saw a parent. I knew that several of these kids had 2 parent homes, too, and I KNEW they made more money than I did. Shocked and scared the hell out of me. How can you not know what your child is doing?! Our children get put into "categories," too. All of this plays into the funding for the school system around here. We, Chapel Hillians, pay the highest taxes in the state. The state wants us to remain high in the rankings. They start testing in the 3rd grade and they will tell you that if your child does not score in the high 3rd and 4th levels of the test grading system, he/she will not succeed in this school system. O.o

O Demanding One: Spring/Summer: Yummy Blueberries!heyurs on April 25th, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)

*runs back* I know what it is to get your dander up! I am with you, Sister! ;D

rupert_talley: Donald Duck rupert_talley on April 26th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
As one of those teachers who must get through literally from the American Revolution to as present as I can which means barely the 70s, for me this year, I hear you. I've been teaching for a long time now and the last three have been NO FUN and I'll even admit, not really teaching. Just throwing stuff at them as fast as I can due to requirements set by the board and others who do not teach anymore if ever. Add End of Course exams on top of the tests they in May. Kids are sooooo sick and tired of tests and school as well as us teachers, yet we have to hold them in some sort of holding pattern until the end of school.

As for food, I'm in high school so I'm not aware of the snack issues but do roll my eyes as well. We are provided snacks and water to give to our kiddos. Apparently "appropriate" is peanut butter or cheese crackers and teddy bear grahams. But with new state regulations regarding food I think prisoners have more leeway than our kids these days. And yes, as you know, there are a certain amount of kids who do not have the proper food ever much less at breakfast during TAKS. To me that hurts more because it's like the state only cares when it's about test results.

nolankyle on April 27th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
I love my wife...
and when she's right , she's right. And don't get me started on standardized testing, the MAN, crappy parents, etc, etc.

Although, sometimes I wish someone would send a note home telling her to make me a good breakfast so I can be at my best. I'm just saying...


Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on April 27th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: I love my wife...
McDonalds on the corner, sweetie pie.

Love you.
Lyndsie Fenelelyndsiefenele on April 28th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
Guess what I saw on Fail Blog today?


Also I never liked the MEAP, which is the Michigan equivalent of the TAKS. (Although it's more fun to say.) I always thought it felt more like it measured the teacher's willingness to cheat than the students' actual ability.
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on April 28th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Dear heavens. I'm horrified.