Please tell me that standardized testing drives every parent crazy. Please tell me it’s not just me! “Early to bed and a healthy breakfast” – the only supposed methods of readying oneself for the test – should not make my children’s hearts race. A reasonable bedtime and a balanced morning meal should not be cues for stress – especially when you are 8! The thing is: who wants to be “standard” anyway?
My babies have done wonderfully on their “standardized tests”. They are straight “A” students with big personalities and lots of friends. They are musically inclined and wise in so many ways. They can push all of my buttons one minute and absolutely melt my heart in the very next. Of course, I want them to have every opportunity their wonderful school can afford them. Of course, I am proud of their academic achievement. I love that they win Spelling Bees. I love that they get chosen to outline tough concepts in their own words for the entire school. I love that they are funny and smart and friendly. I KNOW they are fabulous and I like to get outside confirmation of it whenever possible! But “standardized testing” just bugs me.
I feel like every time a test comes up, they are asked to prove their worth. It seems to me that “Standardized Testing” calls into question how well my Kiddos are already doing right where they are. Standardized testing makes them wonder if they are really OK. It says in a back-handed kind of way: “let’s see if you really meet the mark”. But I don’t want to send my kids out into this world with that kind of message floating around in their heads. I want them to know that even if they don’t make straight “A”s, even if they never stand in front of the class or on a stage, even if nobody else ever thinks they are totally awesome – I ALWAYS DO! So, in the interest of clarifying my stance, I’ve written an open letter to Caleb and Keppley:
Dear Doodlebugs (I know… their friends already make fun of them because of me!),
Today, you are heading off to school to take some standardized test and I just want you to know before the first question is even asked that you are not “standard” in any way. No test will ever measure who you are to your Daddy and me. No test will ever define the course of your life and no test will ever determine your worth. You are uniquely and wonderfully made. You were chosen from among every possibility to be ours and we think God made two fabulous decisions! Before we ever saw your face, you were firmly planted in our hearts and, if it is even possible, we love you more now than we did then.
So, as you head out the door this morning – well-rested and full of a protein-rich, brain-boosting breakfast – just remember that. And do your best. Do your best and know without question, that God, Mommy and Daddy love you no matter what! Do your best and know that we are already proud of you. Do your best and know that your best will always be good enough. Do your best and show everybody what is absolutely clear to me: you are ANYTHING but “standard”!
My prayer is that my Kiddos – and yours – will have sure confidence that they are valuable and loved. Not because they scored well on any test or because they always get picked first. Not because of their performance at all, but because they feel valued and loved everyday – right where they are, just as they are! That is a “standard” I can get on board with and will gladly try to meet.