I am entering my 30's and I have spent many years in school; high school, undergraduate, and then graduate classes. As a result I have tested many times. It started with weekly tests in elementary school, then chapter tests in jr. high, and midterms and finals in high school and college. I have also taken my share of standardized tests; SATs, RICA, CBEST, GRE, and entrance exams. I can't even count how many times I have been assessed. Each time I nervously await the results - if I don't pass this class I am grounded, if I don't get my license I can't drive, if I fail the standardized tests I have to pay to take them again. So many terrible consequences. But the most recent results I receieved were more nerve wracking than even my AFP (pregnancy test for Down's).
My daughter is in preschool and she was assessed for the first time ever. Up until now I had been nervous about what percentile of weight she was in, how many words she was using, and if she was able to dress herself. All measures of her development. But those tests were done anectdotely by me. If she wasn't up to par I could make an excuse or re-examine her later. Her preschool teacher was not going to be as forgiving.
So last week as I saw the thick packet of papers taped to her 'locker' I got nervous. I became angry with myself for not insisting that my husband stay home that evening so he could be there as we looked at the results. My heart beat hard and I began to cry. I hadn't even opened it up yet!
This was going to tell me how my only little girl was doing in preschool. How I was doing as a parent. She is in a class above her age level, was I doing the wrong thing by putting her in that class. The teacher told me as we were leaving, "Now as you look at the results keep in mind that she is a year younger than her peers and the assessment was done 2 months ago." That wasn't encouraging! Now I was even more nervous.
I kept glancing over at the folded packet of papers sitting on the passenger seat on our way home from the preschool. We live just 15 blocks from the school, but at least 5 lights. I thought I could glance at it during a red light. Can you believe that each light was green?! When we got home I thought it was my chance - nope, the kids were starving. I kept looking at the paper while making dinner thinking the cover sheet would somehow calm my fears.
Finally! They were screaming and playing in the bedroom. I can open it! The form has a list of standards and then 3 check boxes; not observed, in progress, meets expectations. I scan the 4 sheets of paper looking for "in progress" checks. As I find them I read the standard and reason it all away. There were only 7 in progress checks. I was relieved! The rest were "meets expectations". I started to cry again. This time pride and relief. I called Daddy and relayed the message to him. Our daughter is average! YAY!
The following day we started working on the "in progress" standards. She is doing well. I have been scheming a way to get a copy of the progress report for next year. Instead I think I will print out the Kindergarten standards and start working with her on them although she won't be going to K for another 2 years.
She has made us so proud. Last week she started to learn to read a clock - well, she can tell you what 6 am looks like on an analog clock. And this morning she started with letter recognition. Although I am relieved she is average I would much prefer a percentile, a comparison to her peers. After all, that's what the world is about. Competition.
I guess at 3 we can let her be little and carefree a bit longer. Soon enough she will be taking standardized tests, when she is 6. I guess we should just enjoy the next 3 years instead of obsessing. Yeah right! Mom's always obsess.