Standardized Test Monster
February is sweet if you're a kid. Even in leap year, it's the shortest month and if your school is anything like ours...the kids have had THREE three day weekends this month. Still, for third graders and up, the ISAT standardized tests are approaching in March. Even our Montessori kids aren't immune, since they're still public kids, though our school does a fabulous job of not teaching to testing.
I love this playfully serious photo commentary on testing, that was a happy accident. Sagezilla worked Beat Kitchen's Winter Fest where ChiIL Mama provided costumes, a rock n roll instrument petting zoo, and rock star photo booth. She came home with some cool, monster face paint and settled in to do her ISAT prep book. So many schools...parents...and kids let cramming for testing, fear of testing...teaching to testing...and testing mania eat their brains.
Traditional Montessori schools don't do testing or even grades. Kids get an I for introduced, M for mastered, and a D for developing. Learning is a continuum-a journey. It makes a lot of sense. Our kids were graded that way in pre-k but now we have hybrid kids...like hybrid cars. We hope they'll have the best of mostly pure Montessori, with the bonus of knowing how to be confident test takers and a report card in case they need to transfer out sometime between age 3 and the end of 8th grade. We can live with that. The kids are thriving.
The school is also very relaxed about the ISAT tests and work hard to give the 3rd graders, who will be testing for the first time, lots of confidence and teach them coping skills so they won't be stressed. Of course, since they're not devoting class time to the ISATS the 3rd grade stays after school one day a week for a bit of after school prep time, and they have weekly ISAT homework, but it's a very sane approach compared to many of the standardized test nightmare stories we've heard. The school told the kids to practice and not worry or obsess about it. On test days eat a great breakfast, get enough sleep,
and above all relax.
So, whether your school's score crazy or pretty chill about state testing, don't let the ISAT monster get you stressed.