When High Performing Means Testing Factory

Braeden's science work. This was a quiz that he's supposed to study for the quiz that he's having tomorrow

Braeden’s science work. This was a quiz that he’s supposed to study for the quiz that he’s having tomorrow

It’s 9:25 pm and my nephew is just now completing his homework. He’s a 3rd grader at a “high performing” elementary school and there is definitely a great deal of pride in that. Their 3rd graders have a history of “beating the test”. That tradition was made clear to him on the first day of class. Unfortunately, their “test beating” secret has come home with him everyday in the form of the stories that he tells and the evidence in his homework.

My nephew’s 3rd grade education has been relegated to drill and kill worksheets, repetitive reading, over-duplication of spelling words and science homework from a test prep book. As much as I complain, the evidence of success from which they are measured is the STAAR test…like it or not. Yes, there is blatant “teaching to the test” but when a school is high performing, regardless of the strategies used, nothing changes…unless people are willing to question the real purpose of school and education.

I didn’t become an educator to help students pass a test. I would like to think that beating the STAAR test is NOT why parents send their kids to us either. However, in a school like my nephew’s, the STAAR test is dictating his learning and that is not okay.

Right now, his school work is no different than the work that kids were doing thirteen years ago when I started my journey into education in that very school. Times have changed yet for him teaching hasn’t. They are literally living in a “high-performing” cave and in their eyes, have no reason to come out.

If nothing changes at school, we’ll be spending our evenings making sure that our standardized child in training does not stay that way but continues to think and create. We can take solace in knowing that he will be prepared for his STAAR test because that is what they do well.

His award winning school is high performing, after-all.


At around 9:20, he finally got to re-reading the “chapter book” that he has been assigned to read every night this week. He’s having an Accelerated Reader test over it tomorrow. It really is an awful story and he’s so amazing that he reads it in a more animated way to make the story interesting…

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