oh no, not another test


Are all first-time grandmothers like me?  When I held our precious rosy haired hummingbird for the first time, it was love at first sight.  We raced down south and entered the labor and delivery waiting room with only ten minutes to spare.  I never thought I would get to gaze into a baby’s eyes during the ‘quiet alert’ after my own daughter was born. That miracle, that wide-eyed gaze was staring at me again— eyes that looked like a blueberry pie.

Dave and I cried in heaving gulps when left for five years to serve people in Ecuador. We made as many trips as possible to hold our dimpled girl.  She was the smartest, the naughtiest, multi-lingual girlie on the South American continent, but it was only our opinion.

Em Sam Dave giraffe

Em, Sam and Papa

As luck would have it, they ventured back stateside, and along the way, the family expanded to four— another girl, we were so blessed.

Soooooo… This is when I get on my soapbox.

Samantha enters kindergarten after finishing three years of all Spanish speaking Ecuadorian pre-school, where she has learned not to bite others, how to sit criss-cross applesauce, all the numbers up to fifty, all the letters, all the sounds and how to blend letters into words, yes—Spanish words, like I said earlier, she is exceptional, terribly gifted.

After a month of American of school, the kindergarten teacher said, “Yes, she is polite, yes, she listens….but she is behind our benchmark for this time in the year.  She may not make it out of kinder.”


I am aghast, errrr, the dreaded one-minute timings?????

“Yes, m’am, we are a high stakes testing environment.”

GRADE ONE (she eeked through):

“Yes, m’am, her scores are okay now.”

Then why do you keep her in the low group? Aren’t these groups supposed to be ever flexible?

“It will be better for her to stay with the lower kids, we feel.”

Who is the ‘we’? I thought, trying to keep my grandma mouth shut.


Sammy is taking tests every single day for a week.  She says the tests will get her in the Explorer group because they get to go on field trips.  Besides that, she says, they get some more challenges. Oh no, I fear for her remembering my own little girl’s sadness picturing…


my own little girl sitting lonely in her ‘high’ reading group after they took all of her friends away to-the gifted classroom down the hall. That day I had to explain to Emily— that tests will not show her creative side; the side of her personality that has no fear, or show her willingness to try hard, and the joy she brought to her mama’s heart every—single—day. Inside I felt terribly angry, angry at Otis Lennon gifted test creator. I carry my irritation with group intelligence testing. My fear has never diminished throughout all my classroom years.


Gifted. Samantha is designated Explorer by said test. But all of us knew that already. Finally, a test that worked (or maybe in all her brilliance she was a very good guesser).

They should have asked Grandma, and saved money on said test.  After all, don’t we know best? XO

PS because you know I like them.  The upswing of high stakes testing all over our country gives me pause…the amount of time daily, weekly and then many weeks during the spring doesn’t give a complete picture of a child’s worth and value. It is soapbox on which I will forever stand.



About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

6 responses »

  1. Keep standing, Grandma! My heart breaks to think of children who feel undermined and undervalued by our testing climate. Love your words describing your joy when your rosy haired hummingbird arrived.

  2. I am so with you on the testing obsession. I love the way you structured your argument. It’s so true that the standardized tests reveal only the ability to learn how to take a standardized test. (one copy editing note: I think you left out a “they” in the second graf.) I too loved your description of your tiny newborn grandbaby, such a lovely image.

  3. Oh, I have so much to which I could reply with to your post. I have been a long time advocate for gifted and talented education in our local school district. It was advocacy born of need. And sadly, almost 13 years later, the need still exists. We need to identify and serve our gifted population, just as we would any other “special” student population. But, the myths and lackadaisical attitudes persist for this group. I’ll never understand why we don’t want to do justice by this group of students. They are our future! I totally understand your soapbox (and I’m not a grandma yet, just a mom of three special boys).

  4. I wish we were able to live, learn, and teach in more of a strength-based environment, not the deficit based one that labels kids.

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