Wednesday, May 7, 2014

SOLs and other things

Welcome to May in our house!

SOL testing, for those abroad, is short for Standards Of Learning for a particular grade and the tests are government mandated each year.  Third grade has more tests (four in may, many over several days) than any other grade.  There are many parents/districts in an uproar over these tests.

Elena has a hard time with testing.  We are working out "kinks" to figure out her best testing situation--seating, duration, breaks, computer v. paper/pencil, etc.  There are a lot of learning opportunities here.  Your comments have really helped, so thank you.  I have brought them up in IEP meetings and I've spoken to Elena about them.  The biggest issue right now, is, unfortunately, test anxiety.

E's first test is tomorrow.  She is doing well in school (on grade level, very high marks in everything.  Her weakest area is math, but she shows tons of improvement).  As much as I try to reassure her that we love her, we are proud of her, we are not worried about her score, and that we want her to try do be the best Elena she can be--she broke down tonight.  It's heartbreaking.

But that's not the worst of it.

Look, you can throw theories out there that E's brain damage/CP is related to her anxiety/test taking issues, whatever.  She has extra tutors.  I don't love all the time spent tutoring, but like everything, it's finding a balance--and she seems cool with it.  But when E comes home with stories about other kids breaking down, giving up--eight and nine year old KIDS who GIVE UP and stop trying--it breaks my heart.  That's not what school should be about.  Elena is not one of those kids, but I never forget that she could be.

I stand by my statement that standardized tests are not inherently bad--there needs to be a way to ascertain what kids know, and it takes too long to do that individually.  Teachers are already overspent when it comes to time, and underpaid when it comes to effort.  Our school is fantastic.  I can't imagine a kid like E in a school that has less resources.  Fact is, these SOLs are hard.  I prefer the word "challenging".  As a third grade kid, I would have done well on these--but I would have had to read closely, as not to get tricked by the questions (which can be easily done if one skims them).  As an adult, I still have to read closely and frankly I'm surprised at the complexity of the questions for a third grader (surprised? impressed?  worried?).

Anyway, this has been our life for most of April.  May is full of tests.  We try our best to "be cool" at home, doing our thing (play, homework, dinner, bath, stretches, etc.) without trying to stress out Elena (she does a lot of this on her own), but I'm not sure how to best support her.  At worst, it's only a month, right?  SIGH.  

E, I wish you the best.  I'm not worried about the worst.  Hang in there, kid.


Anonymous said...

The body holds emotions and it can vent as anxiety especially in spastic CP. I have SDCP. Maybe Elena wants to do perfect on the test herself and is putting the pressure on herself. As someone once said "It doesn't matter if someone says it isn't a big deal because you are disappointed in yourself and only you can make things right with yourself" Testing is still a B*tch in collage for me. I have to have accommodations. I feel your pain Elena! I have a math test soon! Have confidence in yourself Elena!

TheCzarsOf45 said...

Indeed! I never coped well with my test taking skills with my own multiple challenges, including SDCP. We get overwhelmed. E does very easily. And we don't sit well long periods of time. My tone is too much worse too, since SDR was not an option for me, as I am 50. So, I feel for her, and understand completely. I also love your no limits approach to parenting her and letting her try things.