MCAS (state testing )

March 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

So today was the long composition assessment for 4th, 7th and 10th graders in Massachusetts.

Students are expected to write between 5 and 7 paragraphs based on a prompt given to them. Every child gets the same prompt for their grade.

This test stresses kids out everywhere. Last night my daughter had stomach pains going to bed with anxiety about the whole thing. I witnessed a little girl walking into my daughter’s school teary eyed and getting reassurance from her mother “Don’t worry it’s just a stupid test!” the mother said. Many posts this morning on Facebook were if parents commenting about upset children being sent off to school. All I could think was how it felt like a scene from “The Hunger Games”! We send our children into this situation like it’s “the reaping.” All I can ask is “why?”

What are we ultimately teaching our kids? Most parents truly see the test as a waste and hate sending their kids to have to do it. So we tell them “don’t worry, it doesn’t matter, just get through the day.” Here’s the catch, if you can’t pass the MCAS you can’t get a diploma. This makes me mental!! Yes, I understand that it’s the law makers and decision makers and men in suits who think this is best. Clearly these decision makers do not have children with needs.

I am unclear if this is the rule in all states but in Massachusetts it is true. My daughter has yet to pass any section of the MCAS therefore she will likely obtain a certificate of completion, not a diploma. My thoughts about it go something like this “Your telling me that my child who has had to put forth a greater and more sustained effort than a typical child, has had to overcome medical treatments that no child should endure while going through school, has been mistreated by other students and some staff, BUT, still showed up everyday with a smile on her face, is the most empathetic and kindhearted person you will ever meet and who did not quit – CANNOT REALLY EVER GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL like her typical peers? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ” With these thoughts everything I know and believe about special education being fair and equal becomes invalid.

It also makes me think why bother trying – and I have to wonder if some students feel that way too.

The experiences she is having growing up as a person with needs who is a socially savvy person with a lot of real life experiences is not valued by our culture. What the law makers are missing is that it is these experiences, this resiliency, that will in fact bring her success in adult life. She knows what it is like to fail and to keep trying anyway.

Teachers – and I know I’m preaching to the choir here – look at the whole child and honor them for what they have accomplished, honor that they made their own accomplishments and their own way although it’s not why the law makers find valuable. Help other students value the life experiences and resiliency that children with needs have. They certainly deserve that diploma probably more than anyone else!

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§ 2 Responses to MCAS (state testing )

  • Nina Marchese says:

    Well said Michelle. What you say is so true. The loophole is to send her to a “private” school for 12th grade. She can receive a diploma since private schools are not required to take MCAS šŸ˜‰

  • olive says:

    What you say makes so much sense. You are right. I hope you become one of the law makers someday. You re the most selfless and insightful person I know of. šŸ™‚

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