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Why My Kids Are Opting In

College & Career Readiness | 03/30/2015

Kelly Konrad
Guest Blogger

Kelly is a wife and mom of 3 who lives in the Chicago suburbs. Follow her at http://www.chicagonow.com/litzyditz.

Parenting. So much to worry about, so little time. Right?

As the mom of three teens, I’ve had my freak outs about childcare, ear infections, antibiotics, team tryouts, homework, driving, and dating. What I’m not worried about? Standardized testing.

It’s not that I don’t care about my kids’ education. Quite the opposite - ask them and they’ll tell you I care too much. I’m a huge proponent of public education and a big believer in the notion that each kid has individual learning styles, supported by the fact that my kids run the spectrum from special needs to high ability.

So my kids are taking what’s called the PARCC assessment tests.

There’s a lot of anxiety about these new tests. Much of it is valid. It’s hard to even know what we don’t know yet. Is it challenging? Sure. When I’ve had conversations about the test, and I let it slip that I don’t really mind it, I’m asked, “Have you tried taking it?” Actually, yes. I poked around online with a few test questions. I have no doubt I would bomb it. But I would also bomb the ACT today. Shoot, I wasn’t able to help much with math homework past second grade. But my kids still had to do it. And they’re not opting out of college entrance exams.

Change can be scary. And while I respect parents’ individual decisions regarding their kids, consider this: what message are you sending when you say, “This test is too hard and too long. The conditions aren’t right. The material isn’t tested. Tell the teacher you don’t want to take it.”

Opponents are right - kids are more than a score. But there are larger lessons to be learned from stepping up to a challenge than just questions on a computer screen. It’s also about facing obstacles, problem-solving roadblocks, and seeing what you’re capable of. Why would I have my kids opt out of that?

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