[photos taken at The Clearwater School]
I’m the mom of a 17-year-old who has only taken two tests since first grade. When, at 15, he took a test to see if he could take freshman English at
, I was as curious
to see the results as he was; we had no past test-taking experience to compare.
He might have done well, he might have done poorly--nothing would have
surprised me. When he did well, it further bolstered my belief that you don’t
need to spend years “practicing” test-taking. Cascadia
From the Apgar score on, kids in our society are measured, compared, percentiled, assessed, and sorted so much that we parents seem to have become addicted to a constant stream of data. When my family decided to stop getting that information, to change to a school that didn’t test, the decision was easy, but living with it later wasn’t so simple.
Leaving testing and homework behind had an immediate impact on everyone in our family. Free from constant comparisons to friends in class, my child was able to be himself and not contend with any hierarchy in the classroom. He got goofier and much, much happier. A “no testing” culture meant no running through tedious exercises designed for the test, no sorting by ability to read, no fights about homework.
All of that was good for us, and there are too many other good things to list. What I didn’t expect was to panic a little without that steady stream of mostly meaningless information. I wondered, is he learning to read? How is he doing socially? His days were unreported, his highs and lows private. The only way I was going to find out how things were going was to talk to him.
I wish I could tell you that talking to him made me feel better, but it did not. He didn’t tell me any of the things I was hoping to hear, and I didn’t hear the meaning of all of the wonderful things he did tell me. It took a lot of practice for me to stop looking for those things we’ve decided kids need to know, and to see the things that had room to grow once they had the space. Once I really learned to see my child outside the context of measured education, I was able to hear his stories and see the growth they represented.