Who’s afraid of the TerraNova 2 test?
My guest is Lynn Anne Miller, who blogs about green parenting at OrganicMania.com. She also runs 4GreenPs, a strategic marketing firm for sustainable brands. You can follow Lynn on Twitter @OrganicMania. If she manages to mess up her eldest son’s life by not taking the TerraNova 2 seriously enough, she promises to do things differently with her 3-year-old.
By Lynn Anne Miller
“Is the TNT hard?,” a little voice asked from the back seat of my station wagon.
“What’s the TNT?” I asked my son, thinking it was probably yet another new movie or game that I hadn’t heard of.
“The TerraNova 2!” he exclaimed.
“The TerraNova 2?,” I asked, puzzled, thinking vaguely of a new Star Wars Lego ship or something of that ilk.
“The TerraNova 2,” he said with great exasperation. “You know, the test we have to take. It’s supposed to be really hard.”
“Oh, don’t worry about those tests! They don’t matter!” I exclaimed.
Now lest you think I’m a total slacker, you should know I’ve passed my own fair share of standardized tests in my lifetime, which led to a BA and two graduate degrees.
My husband, a stereotypical “nerdy” scientist with a PhD, has convinced me that our second grader’s academic fate does not rest on the outcome of the many standardized tests our local school administers in Montgomery County. Instead, he points out, these tests really are tests of the teachers.
So why do the kids get stressed out?
In our household, we’ve decided to ignore the existence of standardized tests. We’re convinced that the most important thing about second grade is mastering reading and basic arithmetic, learning to cooperate with others, and earning a decent report card along the way.
Like other Washington area parents, we’ve heard our fair share of tales about stressed out kids. Books like “The Overachievers,” set right in our hometown of Bethesda helped us to realize that we should just be low key.
Kids in the D.C. area are subject to enough stress without their parents adding to it.
But my son wasn’t buying his mother’s relaxed attitude about standardized testing.
“The TerraNova 2 is really important!” he insisted. “It’s one of those tests that determines where I go to college!”
Now I was annoyed. Not at him. But at the school bureaucracy that somehow manages to terrify seven-year-olds with perfectly respectable report cards.
“That is ridiculous!” I snapped. “Who told you that?”
And of course, he shut up.
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore!,” he yelled, before hopping out of the car and running into a friend’s house for a play date.
So that’s what gave me the first inkling that the TerraNova 2s, a battery of tests delivered over the course of several days, is fast approaching.
The last time a round of standardized tests were administered, my son reported stomach aches.
Kids are amazing little critters. They pick up on the emotions of those around them. I suspected my son’s wonderful, amazing, talented young teacher was perhaps stressed out by these tests, and her fears were impacting my child.
So I asked her about it (casually, of course, in keeping with my relaxed ‘tude). I asked her: How it is that second graders are getting stressed out by these tests? Who is scaring the kids?
She empathized with me. She agreed that the TNTs are nothing to be worried about. It
could be the parents, she suggested. Or the other kids. Talking to each other about what their parents say. Some parents really pressure their kids, she told me.
A few days later, an unusual bright orange paper arrived home in my son’s backpack. It was hard to miss amidst all the other plain white papers in his backpack.
“Attention Parents!” proclaimed the bold print headline.
“This is a reminder that your child will be taking the TN2 (Terra Nova Test of Basic Skills) multiple choice achievement assessments in reading, language arts, and match (an MCPS mandated test for all 2nd graders) the week of April 26th.
“The testing is scheduled for the mornings of Monday, April 26th, Tuesday, April 27th and Wednesday, April 28th.
"Please try not to schedule outside appointments on those days. Also, please make sure your child arrives at school on time.
"You can support your child by making sure he/she:
"Gets a good night’s sleep!
"Eats a good breakfast!
"Comes to school on time!"
The back side of the flyer continued with no less than eight “suggestions” for parents and guardians.
Hmm…I wonder who’s making a big deal about these tests. Not this parent.
And how goes it in your world? Does your grade schooler tell you about these “important” and “hard” tests that will predict his fate?
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| April 23, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories: Montgomery County Public Schools, Standardized Tests | Tags: Montgomery County schools, TerraNova2, montgomery county schools and terranova, standardized tests
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