Testing protests make it harder for other parents

To the editor:

To the families, educators, and administrators of Petrova Elementary:

Dear friends:

State mandated testing is upon us, and apparently emotions are running high. My three sons, in third and fifth grades, came to me asking why they have to take state testing. I spent over an hour trying to explain to them (in terms they can understand) that I feet state testing is the best thing to do at this time, and in fact, it is mandatory.

I was surprised by the barrage of reasons that my children offered as to why they should not take the tests, from the obvious (“No other kids we know at school want to take the test.” Go figure; I remember not wanting to take tests in school, either, especially long ones like these) to more pointed excuses like, “They use these tests to fire teachers who are not good enough.” Specifically my fifth-grader said that his teacher told him that if enough kids did poorly on the tests, she may lose her job. When I said that it was my understanding that the state tests were only part of teacher evaluations and not specifically tied to their employment, all three of them piped up and said that a fourth-grade teacher was fired last year because of the tests. I don’t know if this is true; regardless, I don’t feel that my 9-year-olds and even my 11-year-old should know this or have to worry about their ability to perform on a test because a teacher “may” be fired.

Another complaint offered by my kids was that state testing is some sort of a money-making scheme developed by some corporation who apparently makes millions from torturing children through hours of exams filled with irrelevant questions or questions at the 12th-grade level and then using Scantron sheets to produce erroneous figures, which are then used against the very teachers and students my sons care about.

Now I know enough about my kids to understand that not everything they come home with from school is necessarily factual, but I do know firsthand that some teachers and parents who are against state testing have openly voiced their adult opinions to the children at Petrova. I have even heard that some parents are letting their kids decide whether or not to take the tests!

The argument for or against state testing is no discussion for young kids to be involved in. Now, because of the actions and discussions my children were exposed to at school, I have to overcome a whole lot of negative thinking before Tuesday morning so that my sons can take the tests with a clear mind and a willingness to participate to the best of their abilities without worrying about adult problems. An opportunity for our kids to take a challenge and give it their best effort has been lost because of misinformation and prejudiced opinions being disseminated throughout our school community.

I think this is a great community and I think that Petrova is a great school, but shame on any adult who involves children in adult situations which they cannot fully comprehend.

Dan Groves

Ray Brook