Different state, same tune: testing time. While the rest of the country flounders around trying to make distance learning work for everyone, homeschoolers are plodding along doing their requirements, including us.
Technically we could postpone this, due to a special bit of legislation designed to help homeschoolers with financial uncertainty. Maybe we should have? I figured he’s bored out of his mind anyway so we should get it over with.
Testing. Ugh. We all know that these multiple choice, limited scope tests aren’t a good indicator of what our kids can really do. This one – the California Achievement Test (CAT) – is outdated as well (there’s a newer version available.) An example of this: a grammar question popped up the sentence “A woman’s work is never done” and I instantly burst out with “that’s a sexist piece of shit!” The Engineer replied “yeah, but is it written correctly?”
Which I couldn’t answer, of course. I have to keep gently reminding him that it’s his test, not mine.
No, not that one
That wasn’t the “oops” moment. Nope, my kids are way too familiar with profanity, and know how to correctly use it. Judge me for that if you will. No, the “oops” came when I tried to alleviate his anxiety. I told him “even if you flunk the entire test, it’s ok. We don’t have to send it in like our last state required.”
Yeah. THAT oops! Because now he’s saying things like “I’ll just pick an answer and be done,” and “but you said I could flunk and it would be ok!”
Can I get a re-do?
I patiently explained that he needs to do his best. He needs to at least try. That completely flunking the test WILL have ramifications if anyone else needed to look at the test. He doesn’t hear any of that. That one phrase, “it’s ok to flunk,” that’s what he heard. That’s what he remembers.
I can’t tell him it’s a stupid test. Because it is. It’s ridiculous! I can’t tell him that most likely no one else will ever see it, even if that’s true. I can’t even tell him that it’s an outdated test because he’ll instantly get the pre-teen attitude of anything “old” is useless. I can’t tell him the real reason I want him to do this ridiculous test.
Why are we doing this to ourselves?
I want him to do this test so that he can practice HOW to take a test. That’s a skill. It’s an important skill, given how low his patience level is when it comes to “boring,” “too hard,” or “pointless” things. He has to do some kind of standardized test. This one is as good as any because he can do the untimed version and cope with testing anxiety in small chunks. Also a skill, by the way.
Playing the game
Testing well is about being prepared and knowing how to play the odds. To be able to guess statistically what penalty you’ll get if you run out of time, to leave the ones you don’t know until last, and to play the game of multiple choice elimination. It’s about how to play as much as what you know. Since our society and especially our educational system relies on testing, it’s a critical skill to have. Third grade is not too young to practice.
He’s not too young to understand the importance of trying your best either. Or the value of hard work – ask me about our mulch mountain and how much he earned. He simply has no patience for boring. I relate to that.
The one good thing about this otherwise painful episode in homeschooling came after struggling through the punctuation section (did you forget everything we went over? seriously?) He turned to me and said “mom, I think we need to work on my punctuation. I don’t know how to do any of this.”
That is the first step towards learning. To realize what you don’t know, and want to fix it.
There’s hope? Maybe?