Oh, actually, it’s just a test of my child’s learning this year. And, surprisingly enough, a test of how well I did as a teacher. Really, I guess it’s not that much of a surprise. I mean, we look at testing scores in order to judge how well our public school teachers are performing. So, I look at how well my child does on his or her achievement test in order to judge myself. And two years in a row, I’ve been disappointed in myself.
We just finished up my oldest’s test today. On to the fourth grade we go… I was ashamed to realize, as I watched him struggle, that I didn’t do enough to help him become more comfortable with taking tests or more open to using scratch paper during the math portion, and I also found him to be weak in the same areas he was weak in last year. Eeeeek! My daughter, 1st grade going on 2nd, will start her test tomorrow. My fingers are crossed that she doesn’t struggle any more than she did last year. She’s actually pretty good at taking tests. My nervous son is not.
It probably didn’t help that I found myself getting the jitters as we got ready and as he was taking his test. I know from my most recent college courses that I get testing jitters big time for my own tests. But apparently I get them somewhat for my kids’ tests too. I bet I’m unknowingly communicating to them that it’s something to be nervous about. I tried really hard to downplay the fact that it was an achievement test I was administering. (We use the CAT, or California Achievement Test, which allows me to be the administrator.) I focused on it as being a review of what we learned so that we can know where we need to focus when we start back to school. It didn’t seem to help any.
I have to wonder if part of my nervousness comes from the fact that I feel I am being graded as well. And not just because I see that I haven’t given enough lessons in punctuation and capitalization and that he needs more timed math practice. It must have to do with the fact that these test results ultimately have to be turned in to the state. I don’t know if anyone even goes over them and compares them to the previous years’ scores. I think part of me is afraid that the county is going to call me up and tell me I have to put my kids in public school because they didn’t score at a certain level. Don’t get me wrong; my kids are very smart and they are absolutely thriving in homeschool. It’s just too bad the test doesn’t cover science, because they would blow that subject out of the water. That’s their favorite subject. I am pretty certain my son did as good or better this year, if they were to be compared. And since I didn’t get a phone call last fall telling me that I wasn’t “allowed” to homeschool, I’m pretty certain I’m in good shape this year (not that I wouldn’t put up a nasty fight if I did get that phone call…).
One giant positive is that my other 3 kids allowed us to test with very minimal interruption. That’s saying something for a 6 year old, 4 year old, and 6 month old. Our breaks were extended when the baby woke up and needed me. I discovered I couldn’t carry the baby with me because her cute face and babbles are apparently too distracting.
So, this is my starting off point. Now I know where I need to focus. I even wrote out some of the primary and secondary goals for the coming school year after the conclusion of today’s test. I will use this information to create next year’s plan. And I will hope that I have corrected the mistakes I made this year by forgetting what I needed to focus on in order to prepare my son for another test.
Here’s where I ask for advice and conversation from you… How do you fight test jitters? How do you prevent yourself from making your kids more nervous about a test when you are naturally not calm about tests?