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February 23, 2017

Parent pleads with schools to stop the STAAR videos and pep rallies

In the long run, these videos and special events are emphasizing a horribly distorted testing system, and kids get the message  their value is attached to how they perform on the test.

 

Image credit: YouTube
Image credit: YouTube

Please stop with the cute STAAR videos and pep rallies.

As a parent, I’d like to share some thoughts about those videos and pep rallies for STAAR which are meant to motivate our kiddos and ease anxiety.

Teachers and administrators, please understand, we know you mean well. We know these are lovingly done in an effort to help our kiddos get through this mess.

But I am pleading with you to think about the long-term effect of those videos and pep rallies.

You may earnestly believe it’s instilling confidence. But think about it. Is there any empirical evidence that these videos and pep rallies actually make children feel more confident or that they perform better on STAAR as a result? I haven’t seen any studies, but I’m open to hearing if there are.

My guess is that you’re relying here on subjective info such as kids telling you that they are more confident and you see some smiles. All good, right?

But wait.

These kids want to please you, so won’t they tell you they feel more confident because they think that’s what you want to hear? And certainly they love it when their teachers do a song and dance. But you’re doing all that special stuff – for a test. What are the kids internalizing? That you, the teacher they love, and their school, think these tests are so very important. They are attaching that to their self-worth.

In the long run, these videos and pep rallies are emphasizing this distorted testing system, and the kids get the message their value is attached to how they perform on the test. But what about those kids who aren’t going to do well on STAAR, no matter what prep is done and what video you show? What about the kids with disabilities forced to take a test without modifications? They will get their yearly report of how they don’t measure up on a test that their school thinks is important enough to support with special events.

Teachers and administrators, please understand, we know you mean well. We know these are lovingly done in an effort to help our kiddos get through this mess.

Once you post those videos to YouTube, they inevitably show up on a local news station and get shared everywhere. Now the general public gets the message that you, the teachers, endorse these tests. We know this isn’t how you feel, but it’s part of the reason why we have so much trouble trying to change the system. Parents like me are fighting to change it because we know it’s developmentally inappropriate, punitive and harmful for both our children and our educators. If the public perceives you think these tests are great, then not only will they stay in place, and they will continue to punish kids and schools with the results, soon teacher evaluations and pay will be attached to the results as well.

Do you really want to help with the test anxiety? Let’s keep it low-key before the test. Quiet reassurance. No more build-up. Stop going on about getting good rest and a good breakfast. Let’s talk about those things every day, not just testing day.

Please.

Still like the video concept? How about changing the message? Instead of telling them they will do great on STAAR before the test, wait until AFTER the test is over, and let’s see a video of their teachers or a pep rally telling the kids they are valued no matter what their STAAR scores are.

– This article was submitted to Roadkill Goldfish by a Texas mom who wished to remain anonymous.

 

Update April 1: You may not know that the writers of Roadkill Goldfish have a long-standing commitment to supporting our public school teachers and have advocated for them on numerous occasions. We are also very involved in efforts to change Texas’ testing obsession, and we’ve gone to Austin for protests, testimonies, personal meetings with elected officials and much more. We do this for our children, but we also do this for teachers, because we know they can’t speak out.

Some readers have interpreted it to be anti-teacher, and the offended have lobbed a lot of hate at the author. Please note Roadkill Goldfish has a Play Nice Comment Policy that basically says we don’t tolerate personal attacks against our writers or other site commenters. There is NOTHING in this post that is anti-teacher; in fact, it notes several times that parents know their actions are done out of love.  The author merely asks administrators and teachers to consider the unintended consequences STAAR hype has on our kids.

Do you want to know how we really feel about teachers? Read the post that started our crusade against standardized testing, “Dear Teachers, I Owe You An Apology.”

 


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8 Comments on Parent pleads with schools to stop the STAAR videos and pep rallies

  1. Anonymous Mom is looking through a narrow lens if she sees special events occurring only for STAAR testing. What about the big and small triumphs teachers celebrate with their students daily? How does she feel about making a kid feel valued for setting college and career goals, or staying on the honor roll, or working on organization skills? What about high fives to the kid that got new clothes from the clothing van this week? Ok to celebrate that? Or the family that took home a snack pack of donated food to eat over the weekend? How about recognizing good citizenship in morning announcements? Teachers and administrators do so much make kids feel valued, often sacrificing time and money to do so. Like it or not, they have to get these students to pass a test they didn’t create. Kindly allow them the courtesy to do whatever they feel is necessary. If Anonymous Mom can’t see past the videos and pep rallies for STAAR, then perhaps she needs to open her eyes a bit wider.

    • Well said Ka;ette. We do plenty for those that pass and don’t pass after the test too but a little fun before the big day…is ok. plus in our current system you will need to pass the EOC to graduate.

    • BTW- Sorry I was writing in short hand and not using all my “revising and editing” skills – too tired from two days of testing, parent conferences, etc. Good thing is… I love my kids.

    • Hi Kalette,

      Thank you for your feedback. You may not know that the writers on Roadkill Goldfish have a long-standing commitment to supporting our public school teachers and have advocated for them on numerous occasions. We are also very involved in efforts to change Texas’ testing obsession, and we’ve gone to Austin for protests, testimonies, personal meetings with elected officials and much more. We do this for our children, but we also do this for you, the teachers, because we know you can’t speak out. I highly recommend checking out an old post called, “Dear Teachers, I Owe You An Apology” to gain an appreciation for how open our eyes really are.

      We are so thankful teachers celebrate big and small triumphs with children everyday, and nothing in the post disparages that love and dedication. The post is not attacking special events or teachers, in fact, it notes several times that parents know they mean well. This post merely asks administrators and teachers to consider the unintended consequences STAAR hype has on our kids.

      Please don’t throw parents under the bus.

  2. Address the legislators, not the teachers. Teachers work tirelessly to do so much for your kids. Love them, teach them, care for them, pray for them, and yes, make videos to help inspire them. Yet they often only receive criticism instead of the support they so desperately need.

    • Hi Lisa,

      You may not know that this site has spent the last two years educating the public about STAAR and its impact on Texas’ children and teachers. Many of the blog’s followers and writers, myself included, are actively working to get our legislators to change this destructive system. There have been numerous trips to Austin, personal letters and phone calls, testimonies before the legislature and community events.

      This post in no way criticizes our teachers; we know they mean well. It merely challenges our educators and administrators to consider the unintended consequences of STAAR hype. As the mom of a child who gets agitated with all the hype, I have seen these consequences first-hand, and it broke my heart to see my son develop a hatred for school and a genuine belief that he is stupid because this “important” test tells him he doesn’t measure up.

      We’re allowing our legislators, Pearson and a slew of pseudo-education leaders to destroy learning for an entire generation. Parents have to fight back because our teachers can’t.

  3. Right on key, Kim! Talk to the legislators while you are on this subject. It started out as HB72 back in the early 80’s with the key word being “accountability.!

    As a retired teacher and grandmother, I have been in on standardized state testing since it began and have seen how it has grown into a monster. It started out so innocently with the teachers teaching a few testing strategies about a week before it was given and has become an all-year event with all kinds of ugly heads coming out. My early teen granddaughter has dyslexia (not recognized by the school but professionally diagnosed) as well as ADHD. She goes to class during the school day, for testing all year long, and goes to summer school. She gets so stressed when it is test-taking time and loses sleep during that time. We are losing a whole generation of children who don’t have a love of learning. I can visualize those children going out into the workforce saying, “I didn’t learn that in school, because they didn’t cover that on the test!”

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