If you have a child in 2nd grade or above, the most stressful time of the year has begun. It’s testing season. For instance, here in Florida, we have the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). This standardized test is used in the primary secondary public schools of Florida. The test is geared to show the general knowledge learned by students and also is the gateway to high school graduation. For example, when taking the FCAT in 10th grade, if a student fails, they will have 4 more opportunities to take the test prior to graduation and ensure their graduation. If they fail, they don’t graduate. While most do pass the test, there are numerous problems with it.
The Problems With FCAT & All Statewide Standardized Testing:
The first major problem with any and all statewide standardized testing, especially on very young children, is that it creates unnecessary stress. Factor this, while we all want to know how children are doing in school, every child is lumped into taking one, general test. These are just children and we, as adults, know they will face enough cruel stresses in their lives. Why create unnecessary stresses early in life?
The second major problem is that testing is not a great gauge for every child. Some kids simply don’t test well and truly get anxiety due to testing. With the focus on mental health in America, doesn’t this play right into that?
Another major problem is that schools over-care about these tests. For instance, many parents and critics have pointed out schools teaching only to the test. This means that rather than truly teaching each individual child and ensuring their growth and maximizing their potential, the schools, instead, teach for what’s needed on the test and nothing beyond that. Schools are so vested in this test because this is what creates their “grade”. For example, you’ve heard of an “A-rated school”, right? The testing is where the grade comes from. In many cases, the better the school is rated, the more attention, recognition and financial aid the school receives. Thus, there is a hidden agenda for the schools, which your children help generate. This is the politics of academia and it starts young! The other issue with schools over-caring out a test and under-caring about the individual student is that our children become numbers. They are no longer viewed as individuals whom can go on to do great things. Instead, they are looked at as profit for the schools.
Another major issue with this testing is that parents think they have the capability of ending all stresses by “opting out of testing” for their children. However, it’s not exactly “opting out”. Like many things in life, things get misunderstood the more they are spoken about. Remember the game “telephone”? That’s where one child would whisper something to the child next to them, doing so in a circle of children and then it would make its way around to the last child whom would say the sentence out loud. If you remember that game, you remember that by the time the sentence got to the last child, the sentence was nowhere near what it originated as. That’s how “opting out” became. While you can’t “opt out” of testing, there are alternatives. However, you will read all types of horror stories of schools publicly shaming parents and even threatening parents for using alternatives for testing. Keep in mind, in today’s public school system, parents are farther removed from knowing how academia works than ever before. Instead, we rely on what our children tell us. But the children are too far removed from understand the school’s hidden agenda and can’t truly provide their parents with vital information. Thus, the school figures, the farther they keep parents out of the loop, the more they can get away with. This is the old “cat’s away, mouse will play” syndrome. But it’s true, parents truly can provide alternatives to the testing. You can click here to learn about alternatives. But, as with anything in life, there are consequences and, just like with anything in life, you need to do your due diligence, especially when it comes to looking out for your children. You can read of some of the possible consequences here.
The last problem is that schools have made in known to the public that teacher salaries and jobs are dependent on children taking, and succeeding, in the FCAT and other standardized testing. This is the school’s way of reminding you that you are hurting others.
What Should I Do About The Testing?
As parents, we make decisions for our children. Decisions that are sometimes difficult. This is one of those. Personally, I don’t see a need to stress children out. It’s enough we have so many ignored mental health issues in America, we don’t need to start raising children just to push them into mental health disorders. I figure, you live once…you better make it count in all aspects. You have a job to do, do it to the best of your abilities. You spend your life around people, be good to people and treat others how you would like to be treated. Life is short…You have to have fun in this world. Life shouldn’t be about stresses. Life should be about dealing with challenges but finding the good in everything. There’s enough bad out there and enough stresses, right? None of us like to be threatened by anyone, let it be another individual or a public institution but some people and some institutions are just that way. Testing doesn’t always make sense for every child. But the most important thing you can do for your children is to do your homework on whether testing makes sense for them or not. No one in this world knows your children like you do. By taking your time, educating yourself on what you don’t understand, and truly evaluating the positive and negative consequences, you are doing your child justice and can truly show them how life works.