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Test day jitters
July 28, 2011 - Kylie Saari
I have never been good at tests. In high school and college, I would study like crazy, often transcribing my notes several times in different colored pens to make sure I had the material down. Then I would sit down to the test and be sure the question was trying to trick me.
I managed pretty good grades, but if I was able to test with less anxiety, I am sure I would have gotten higher grades. I am not the only one with this problem, but many don't have it. My husband, for example. I was dating him in high school and through college, so I can attest that the guy never did homework, only half listened to the teacher, and would ace every test. He has a fantastic memory and the confidence that goes with that.
So today, while reading an article about how poorly American students did in history exams for America's Report Card, I had the opportunity to take the test on U.S. History. Only 25% of students passed the test with proficiency.
If I had any inclination to be a teacher, I would have majored in history in college. I find it fascinating. But when I started taking the test, I was struck with a sudden insecurity that I wouldn't be able to pass these high school level questions. It was a feeling I certainly haven't had in a long time.
In the end, I only got one question wrong — and I was pretty sure I was choosing the wrong multiple choice answer even as I pushed the button. I wish we could attribute the terrible testing score American students got on test anxiety, but we just can't.
Even in Fairmont, students aren't taught history lessons until third grade at the public schools. In private schools that timing is different. It was difficult for me as a parent to hear my first grader was studying 9/11 at school. The issues are so complicated, and truth so horrible, I can see why some schools chose to wait until the students are older. But they are losing out. My son wasn't traumatized by the lesson. He wasn't born when it happened, and with no TV, he has not seen the images. On the contrary, now he understood a little bit more about the nation's history, what it means to be a country, and why everyone is wearing Support Our Troops t-shirts.
I would like to think my kids are exempt from the terrible jobs American students are doing with their education, but I know it is unlikely. All our kids are at risk until we make an effort to encourage them to value education and stop making excuses for them.
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