Tests start even before your kids enter school


Our son was technically eligible for kindergarten last year, but we thought we’d swing another year of pre-K. We waited because while socially the child is gifted, academically, well, I’d heard those kindergarten SATs were murder.

Waiting longer. As such, we are on the cusp of a trend to hold children back from beginning kindergarten until age 6 and in some cases even 7 that, if unabated, will result in your average kindergartner being over 17 years old.

Which would, at the very least, solve a transportation dilemma when we could do away with busses and just let grade schoolers drive themselves to class.

Although I think plans to allow them to use their Golden Buckeye cards in the milk line are just rumor at this point.

In an effort to “leave no child behind,” America’s public schools administer more than 100 million standardized exams each year, including IQ, achievement, screening, and readiness tests.

I’m all for tracking progress, don’t get me wrong. I just wonder what happened to the good old days of “Iowa tests” when even if a student simply filled out random patterns in the answer bubbles (that coincidentally looked an awful lot like Mr. Magoo if the answer sheet was placed sideways) he or she could still get into Harvard and perhaps even become President someday.

Interrogation. Today’s testing reports tell us that New York fourth graders are interrogated about the purity of maple syrup; high-schoolers are asked to respond to an essay by Roger Ascham (you know, that oft-mentioned 16th-century chap noted for his essay on archery).

Students in Los Angeles are asked about lemon mousse. And really now, isn’t it comforting to know that America’s future is secure in the hands of a populace well educated in 16th century archers, maple syrup and mousse? Asia’s got nothing on us!

This, of course, assumes you can even sneak your child into a public school. I received the “packet” (stack of papers the size of a municipal phone book) that must be completed before our son makes the grade to enter kindergarten this fall.

I figure if he makes it through this first round, they might request his resume next.

Too much information. Meanwhile, leave it to me not to know what educational purpose is served by my local school district knowing all about my pregnancy and delivery, as well as the source of our drinking water (note: they don’t have a real well-defined sense of humor and get all worked up if you answer “gin.”)

Not to mention requiring my child’s social security number in 60 or 70 different little boxes. Why? Are they filing his tax return or giving him a platinum VISA?

Meanwhile, so intent are they on kicking the tires to see if my child runs well and is in mint condition, that I’m feeling a wee bit frantic. They do understand he’s just on loan for the school day and we aren’t selling him outright?

It’s not the quantity of the paperwork or the quality of the pupils and educators that is an issue. It’s the plethora of tests, hoops, hurdles and hoopla that must be overcome before your child can pick up her first paint smock and raise one hand if she has to make No. 1 and two hands for No. 2.

Overdose. We are a nation overdosed on standardization and short on common sense. Such as when we are diagnosing nearly every single fourth grade boy in the nation with an attention deficit disorder. While this is a very real malady, it cannot possibly be as common as the prescription rate would suggest.

Instead, can we imagine that children sentenced to sit quietly for six or more hours daily with increasingly shorter – if not nonexistent – recess periods would get jumpy?

In my day (oh the dreaded phrase) we were turned out like cattle thrice daily for a nice airing and a breather (for the teachers anyway).

Recess for all. Recess is also where crucial life skills are first learned; such as love hurts (see spitting, hair pulling and “chasing” of the beloved); cliques are only fun if you are in them; and, like so many things in life, jumping headlong into anything without adequate preparation will leave scars that last a lifetime. This being doubly true for jump rope.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt believes in recess for all ages – especially hers. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.