Testing and Panicking and Growing

One of my third graders had a panic attack during the reading OAAs yesterday. I've had many so I knew it right away: the shallow breathing, the look of terror that slowly comes on you that leads to hysterical crying and making soothing repetitive sounds in a last ditch effort to calm yourself down. I had a para yesterday so we were able to get him to the nurse but he was so distraught that he went home and didn't  come back today.

As I knelt by him as he was trying to make his way through a reading passage on his own, I told him, "You don't have to do this now. Take a break." But he wanted to finish and read absolutely every word he could. My heart broke as he sobbed his way through sounding out letters. Finally, after three and a half hours, he couldn't do it anymore.

I am an educator of special people. While I understand that these assessments are not meant to
 truly test my kids (or accurately test anyTHING), they are still required to finish the test as someone believes thats how you figure out how I'm doing as a teacher and how my kids compare to where they "should be."

Yesterday started a new chapter in my educational career. I don't know if I can passively participate in education any longer. After bringing my kid to tears because politicians want to measure his worth on his ability to sit in his seat for too long reading FIVE 1-4 page stories and answering completely pointless questions, it has occurred to me that my anger needs to be pointed at what matters. I encourage all of you affected by over testing to complain to your co-workers, yes, but take t a step further and write a letter to your department of education. Parents in Texas are now refusing to let their kids take high-stakes tests and a group of teachers in Washington state refused to give it. We aren't crazy and other parts of the country see how damaging these things are. Your letters may not be read, you may not be heard, but what if you were?

My teaching neighbor, a third grade teacher told her students a wonderful thing at the beginning of the year.
"There is a line that the state believes you should be at. This line is subjective as it attempts to measure how smart you are. But if you look around, we are all not the same height. We all grow a our own pace and that is okay."

These are children and as long as they are in my care, they are going to remain that way.