It’s that time of year again… State Testing. If you have a child with test-taking anxiety, you probably dread this time of year as much as I do. My daughter was exposed to the pressures of state mandated testing in Kindergarten and she’s struggled with it ever since.
I’ll never forget the day I got a call from her Kindergarten teacher, saying my daughter was having an emotional breakdown during a test. I thought something must be going on because how bad could a test be in Kindergarten? When I arrived, I was shocked to see the kids sitting in silence, separated by dividers (to not see each other’s answers). The environment seemed way too serious for a room full of 5 and 6 year olds. The teacher said they were taking a state test and I thought, why are we testing kids so young?
My daughter was in tears, she had completely shut down and wouldn’t talk to anyone. This happens when she’s overwhelmed and does not feel understood. After comforting her, I was able to get her to talk to me, but getting her to finish that test was not happening.
You might be thinking, doesn’t state mandated testing start in second grade? Yes, but there are some schools that start students as early as Kindergarten. They think they are doing the right thing and preparing students for the future. However, they can actually do more damage by putting such unnecessary pressure on young, developing minds. From first-hand experience, I can say it harmed my daughter, who to this day says she hates school.
But my daughter doesn’t just hate school because she was exposed to mandated tests at 5 years old, it’s because education prioritizes excessive discipline over playtime and socialization. What type of life are we preparing our kids for? The military? There has to be some rules, but kids should be allowed to just be kids! You can’t expect them to sit still at their desks, not talk to each other, and walk in perfect straight lines.
Studies show that an emphasis on academics too young can have negative, long-term effects on kids. Researcher Dale Farran spent a decade studying over a thousand children: some from a state-run Pre-K and others from a control group of kids that didn’t get into that school. Farran was shocked to find that by 6th grade, the state-run Pre-K students were doing worse all around. They had worse reading, math, and science scores and more learning disorders, discipline issues, and suspension cases.
Our education system has its flaws and you may not be able to change the entire system… trust me, I’ve tried! BUT there is something you can do about testing when it comes to your child. California is one of few states that has a law allowing parents to opt out of state-mandated standardized testing. You may receive some pushback and your charter school might even tell you their charter renewal is dependent on testing results, but it is not your child’s responsibility to take on their school’s burden and you are in your right to opt out.
I didn’t find out that I could opt my daughter out of standardized tests until she was in 6th grade but, Comadres, it made all the difference! If your child struggles with taking tests, you can opt out too by writing a letter or email to their school.
- Shocking Results of a 10-Year Study of Pre-K – Let Grow
- Effects of a statewide pre-kindergarten program on children’s achievement and behavior through sixth grade. – PsycNET (apa.org)
- Research Reveals Long-Term Harm of State Pre-K Program | Psychology Today
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