How do you calm children down after months of stress and hype over standardized tests? How do you reassure everyone that the scores won’t be used to punish neighborhoods, penalize kids who don’t do well, or cause teachers to lose their jobs?
Make a music video!
That’s right, make a music video! Change the lyrics of a well-known song to include positive language about how well they’ll do on the tests, give familiar teachers starring roles in the production, show a few real kids using their strategies, and SING, SING, SING!
Do a quick YouTube search, and you’ll see these videos are being created by schools all across the country as a way to motivate kids for their upcoming state standardized tests. While some videos provide a few moments of blissful escape and entertainment (and others are tortuous and downright scary to watch), many parents feel these items and similar test pep rallies are a bit disturbing.
It may be hard for some adults to comprehend why these parents are not happy with the testing hype their kids face. Allow me to provide grown-up example that puts these parents’ feelings in context:
Imagine the IRS has been sending you letters about how you should file your 2013 tax return. The first letter came in September 2013, and there’s been a new letter in your mailbox every week that outlines the penalties you will face if you make a mistake on your return. Beginning in January 2014, an agent began leaving messages on your answering machine about how important this tax return is. He has also forced you to take weekly quizzes on federal tax codes. Feeling a little guilty, he sends Richard Simmons to your house on April 14 to deliver a peppy singing telegram about the importance of your error-free tax return.
Yes, that’s what standardized testing is like for our kids. And these are their singing telegrams:
(Important note: No one is faulting teachers for creating these videos, and they deserve support for doing their best to provide a little encouragement and diversion for kids who are genuinely scared thanks to the high stakes testing culture we’ve allowed our politicians to create.)
My Personal Favorites
New York: Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate teachers put a new spin on Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” I respect these teachers because they acknowledge the tests’ toll on their kids, and they also provide a great lip sync and hysterical parody of the original music video.
Florida: Mater Academy Elementary teachers aren’t afraid to dance, rap and wear 80s-inspired costumes in this production number. They also have some major talent on staff. Set to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj.
Definitely Not a Favorite
Texas: This video completely rubs me the wrong way, and I think it may actually scare kids more about the test. Why? Because the word “scared” pops up over and over again. It also doesn’t help that the 22-year-old Van Halen song featured in the montage sounds a little foreboding.
A Sampling of Others
Georgia: Poker Face meets Test Taker Face. One face involves winning money, and the other face involves winning… I dunno.
Illinois: The Village People aren’t immune from testing songs. This school uses “YMCA” to teach kids “it’s fun to take the I-S-A-T.”
Minnesota: Would setting a test song to the music of “Let it Go” destroy the Disney magic for kids? I’m not sure, but one of these teachers has pipes that belong in the film studio’s next movie.
Oklahoma: This school wins the award for best participation. They did a great job including pretty much every adult on campus.
Pennsylvania: These teachers do their best rendition of “SCORE” to the music of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” As if kids need to hear more songs by Katy Perry.
Texas: The song, based on “What Does the Fox Say,” has earworm quality. I can honestly see kids taking the test and singing the chorus of , “READ-D-D-D, READ-D-D-D, READ-D-D-D, READ.”
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Have you seen any inspirational standardized test videos?
What did you think of them?
Please share the URL and your thoughts in the comment section below.
Special thanks to Fish Friend Naomi for pointing me in this direction