Kids Shouldn’t Need Pep Rallies To Survive Common Core Testing


Common Core testing is a big topic of discussion these days. It’s happening in 43 states plus, the District of Columbia so it’s something the vast majority of kids in America will be dealing with. My oldest child is in second grade so next year will be our first time dealing with the testing, but I’ve already seen the homework and it’s certainly different. I am not here to debate the curriculum, though. I’m not a teacher or administrator — I won’t pretend to know all the ins and outs. What I do know is that if these tests cause so much anxiety for kids that schools are producing elaborate music videos and holding pep rallies to pump them up — we have a very big problem.

I watched an episode of Last Week Tonight this week where John Oliver did a brilliant take-down of Common Core testing and how unfair it is. A quote by Oliver from the segment, via Quartz:

”This is a system which has enriched multiple companies, and that pays and fires teachers based with a cattle-birthing formula, confuses children with talking pineapples, and has the same kind of rules regarding transparency that Brad Pitt had for Fight Club.

He is referring to a ridiculous test question about pineapples that confused kids because, of course it did. I’ve seen my daughter’s homework papers and not only do they often contain errors by the company that makes them, my husband and I sometimes struggle to figure out what’s being asked of her and how to explain it. Obviously, it’s an entirely new way of learning from what we’re both used to. We aren’t stubborn curmudgeons clinging to the past but we do have trouble seeing how this way is so much better for kids. Our daughter is an excellent student and rarely has trouble but when she does, we aren’t surprised. It can be pretty confusing.

That said, a large part of Oliver’s segment focused on the music videos that teachers and staff create to pump up kids and lessen their anxiety over the Common Core testing that occurs in grades 3-8. I am not against standardized testing completely. I know I did New York state tests growing up and went through the Regents program without issue. There is value to test taking for analysis and to gauge how schools are doing. However, the way the testing is handled now and what it’s outcomes determine is the issue at hand.

The kids are being stressed out by it because the teachers have to be sure their students achieve a certain score or they will incur some sort of consequence. The results don’t even come out until September, after a child has moved on to another grade, so how can we say the testing is somehow for THEIR benefit? Hence, the stress and anxiety for the kids. You can’t blame the teachers for wanting the kids to do well when it could affect their own evaluation as an educator.

My brother teaches at an elementary school and I’ve seen the videos they make for the kids. They do pep rallies as well and they’re adorable. The kids go wild seeing their teachers acting goofy and singing and dancing but seriously, if this is necessary, there is something wrong. Third graders are only eight and nine years old. My brother told me he knows of kids who get so nervous for these tests they experience physical symptoms and some don’t want to come to school anymore. He said these videos help make things more light-hearted but the reason behind them is anything but. I have no solutions. I am not full of knowledge on the subject. But I do know one thing — eight-year old children should not be stressed and worried like an adult. It’s not fair. I won’t be pulling my kids from taking the tests but I won’t be happy about it either. It sounds like a lot of stress on students and teachers and I’m not sure to what end.

(Image: GettyImages)

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