Monday, May 24, 2010


Someone in the Commonwealth of Virginia has a sense of humor. Our state educational standards are refered to as the Virginia Standards of Learning, or the SOLs.

Last week was the big week in Z's school. They spent four days of last week taking standardized, multiple-choice test to determine whether or not the school met the state standards. Poor Z was completely tied in knots over the tests. We tried to explain that these tests don't evaluate Z, but rather evaluate the school.

The school has been building up the children's anxiety over these tests for about a month. They have done practice tests. They have done practice scenarios. They've sent home study materials. They've sent home a study CD-ROM. They've sent home big, fat textbooks. While I understand the school's anxiety over their rating - I can't understand a system where it is okay to make a nine-year-old freaked out about bubbling in some circles.

We are creating a society of anxiety-ridden bubble fillers, rather than creative thinkers. If we need anything, we need a system that values creative, bright kids. Maybe its time we scrap it all, start with some innovative teachers and try again?

I'm going to do that next year. Z is the most innovative person I know. And, who knows better what lights his fire for learning? Z is (mostly) going to educate himself next year. And, I bet he does just as well as the system and with less anxiety. This isn't to say I am comfortable with the whole notion (read - petrified). But, if he comes out of it feeling good about himself, having practiced writing some, and having kept up (a little) in math and science where he is way ahead - we can't be too far off.


kherbert said...

Please, please write,call and be active in repealing NCLB before it harms more students.

J. said...

You go, K. Congrats on the homeschool plunge. I did for one year and my only regret is that I didn't start sooner, much sooner.

You won't regret it. Yes, I was pretrified too. Turned out to be the best year of our lives. I kick myself every day I waited so long until the year before high school.

Go for it! And you'll be learning right alongside your child. It'll be fun, creative, imaginative. I can't say every day will be wine and roses. But when you stop to consider how empowering it is, how you just snapped your fingers and the stress went away, you'll begin to ask yourself what took so long.