Last week I took the ChileRicans to Los Angeles for Easter Break and to meet their soon to be house and hood in City Terrace. Meanwhile in New York City, life went on. At least to the extent that the New York City Department of Education sent out the results from Gifted and Talented Testing.
Now, I didn’t take this test too seriously. Poroto, had just turned five when the exam was given in January and had been in a two and a half hour a day Pre-K public school class for less than four months. We did one practice test so that she wouldn’t be surprised and that was it. I didn’t stress about the first of many test she would be subjected to in her academic career. In fact, I felt kind of fucked up about my decision to sign her up for the test. Was I one of those mothers? You know the kind who worry about if their pre-schooler will get into an ivy league college.
I’m not really one of those mothers but the sad truth is that the current education system requires our children to participate in high stakes testing in order to advance so I saw no harm in introducing her to the idea of testing in as stress free a way as possible. Which wasn’t that possible.
Do they want me to read? I don’t know how to read.
Do they want me to write? I’m just learning to write my name.
These were the questions 5 year old Poroto wanted to know. When I assured her that she didn’t have to read or write, just answer some questions, look at pictures, and puzzles, she was OK. It helped that her closest friends were also taking the test. One of these friends was being prepared quite extremely. After drop off when her mother and I would walk a little together, she would ask what preparations I was engaging in with Poroto for the test. When I told her we weren’t really, she seemed shocked and then began to list all the books her and her husband were using and how they had spent $500 or so on test prep materials. Wow. Even if I took the test as a serious determining factor in the future of my kid, I certainly did not have $500 to spend on test prep materials. Hell I don’t even have $500 in the bank.
Test day itself was uneventful. Poroto wasn’t nervous when a stranger to her teacher took her in a classroom in an unfamiliar school. I think the parents who sat in the auditorium were more nervous. I typed away on my laptop watching the minutes and the doorway. By the time she came back, her father had joined me in vigil and he took her for their usual weekend visit and business carried on.
Was the test hard?
Do you think she did well?
Did they tell you the results?
The $500 test prep parents asked me the Monday following the test. I didn’t have much to tell them since I hadn’t seen the test, hadn’t pressed Poroto for details or asked if any of the questions confused her. I wanted the experience to be a Saturday morning activity. As for the results. Well those wouldn’t come in the mail for months and I was not going to be waiting by the mailbox for them either.
Last week I received an email informing me that Poroto had not qualified for placement in the gifted and talented program. I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell her father. They wouldn’t know what it meant or didn’t mean anyway. In fact, aside from a tweet I made yesterday, I haven’t told anyone till now. I sure as hell didn’t tell the $500 test prep mother who told me how her daughter had been offered placement and now her dilemma was if she should send her 5 year old to attend kindergarten in a top yet controversial school in Manhattan, an hour’s commute away, or stay at a closer school with a good reputation. I reassured her that with support and love her child would turn out fine regardless of where she went.
You have a point
I have a point.
This afternoon, as I made last minute suggestions to nervous 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders on the eve of their state-wide high stakes English Language Arts exam, my five year old was making a model of the life cycle of the butterfly out of this sticky slime she received in one of her Easter baskets. She proudly explained the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly in all it’s slimy glory displayed on a wood table that would certainly be stained.
My point exactly.