I’ve always enjoyed going to school. Math was a struggle for me when I was younger. But I always tried my best. I was an honor roll student. In high school I was a member of the National Honor Society. I made the honor roll all four years of high school. My children don’t know that though.
But, have me take a standardized test and I was a train wreck. Did I have enough #2 pencils? I felt like I was going to be sick. There were too many people in the room. I guess I had my own sensory issues I was dealing with. Tests in class gave me sheer panic too.
When I began teaching I could relate to the child that looked pale when it was time to take the spelling test. I remember being traumatized by having the word “restaurant” on my spelling test. I always would get the letters confused. It is amazing how you can remember details like that from school, positive or negative. Grades are important. But so is a child’s mental health and self-esteem. I know there will always be the students that get great grades. Earning good grades requires effort, good study habits, and hard work. For some students it comes naturally. For other students it comes with tears, fighting, and tantrums. I’m talking about the parents, not the students here!
What message are you sending your child about grades? Do you remind them of how well you did in school? And how they should be like you? Do you meet them where they are? Do you notice and accept areas that they can improve on? As a teacher I try to make the environment welcoming and stress free. I just don’t give them a pep talk and praise on the day before the test. That is something that I am constantly doing with them on a daily basis.
Children today have more standardized testing than I ever did growing up. Sydney takes the alternative version of the standardized tests. Harrison has accommodations for small group testing. The stakes are high and the competition to get into college has changed. As I think about Harrison entering high school next year, I begin to panic. I know that he will do well. He will advocate for himself, if he needs help. He realizes he needs to work on his organizational skills and I support him in that.
We celebrated his accomplishments last week. He was very proud because I took a step back this card marking period with him. Usually he tells me, “Look Mom we got an “A” on the ELA test. ” Because WE put in a lot of work preparing.
I am all for promoting good grades. But I also want to make sure I am promoting the whole child. If my teachers would have just looked at my standardized test scores, they would have put me in the “Turtle Reading Group”. But I was able to demonstrate my learning in other ways. Just because a child doesn’t test well doesn’t mean the child isn’t smart.
What is your opinion on grading? Should letter grades start in first grade? Are we administering too many standardized tests to students? As a mother and a teacher it can be an interesting debate.