Tomorrow is the first day of AIMS testing in our school district. This is the annual rite of passage that our state has mandated to determine how our children are doing academically. The children are tested in reading, math, and writing beginning in third grade. These tests have taken on a life of their own and have become so incredibly important as far as the state and federal government are concerned. Our entire school year is geared towards this week.
Now don't get me wrong....I truly understand the importance of accountability in schools. It is very important that we prepare our children for the future--they are our future. However, the AIMS only exams what they have learned about our state standards. It doesn't measure how far some children have come academically. It doesn't measure character, and what good will our future be without citizens with strong character? It doesn't measure how far some children have come behaviorally. It doesn't measure how much English some of our students have learned at the same time trying to master the curriculum. Yet, every day in our schools we deal with everything that is happening in our society, both good and bad.
I have seen so much added stress on families recently with the downturn in the economy. Some of our children's lives have been turned upside down. That is something that I don't even totally understand, yet we are asking our children to put all of that stress aside and do well on the AIMS test.
We also ask our special education students to take this test on grade level without accommodations. I truly believe that this is so wrong. Children in special education struggle academically and socially for many reasons and depending on what their disability is. Yet they are expected to perform at grade level.
On Friday, I went around to all of the classrooms and talked to our students about how proud I am of them and how I know how well I know they are going to do on the test this week. I have never done this before because I have felt that there is such a fine line between stressing the importance of the test and stressing them out. We had ordered bracelets in our school colors that have "GO TIGERS" embossed on the bracelet. I told them that this was my present to them to say thank you for all of their hard work. I asked them to wear them this week when they are taking this test so that they can be proud of being a Tiger!
We only have around eight weeks of school left for this year. I am not looking forward to the next few weeks as our district will be grappling with what are going to be very severe budget cuts. So much is still up in the air because the legislators haven't figured out what they are going to do as yet. I have seen many ups and downs over the many years I have been doing this, but nothing like what is happening right now. I am very worried about the impact that these budget cuts are going to have in so many ways......
On a lighter note, Saturday night we had our family over for dinner. Brendan, Chris, and his girlfriend, Bridget, were here from San Francisco. Brendan and Chris are the sons of my cousins, Lena and Rosemary. They were on spring break from college and were in town for spring training and the basketball tournament game yesterday. Teresa was thrilled to see them and as always, we were so glad that they were here.
Cecilia was giving my "Little Lucy" pug a hard time, so Lucy sat on my lap and growled at her for about half an hour. It was hilarious!!!
Our family is truly amazing in so many ways. It is always so good to get together!! Thanks for coming to visit us, guys!