I’ve tried to liken testing in the students’ minds to a performance or a sporting event. I want them “up” and focused on outcomes but I also want them positive and aggressive, not scared. I want to create it in their minds like other things in their lives that are challenging and where success is the goal. However, I want to stay well clear of the “this determines your whole life” vibe that’s around (and not entirely inaccurate).
On that note, I wonder if test results are really that important for most students? Does plus/minus one standard deviation of the mean make any difference in a life at all? Nearly 7 in 10 kids will fall into that range, if I recall my stats class correctly. Sure, test scores are important for kids who want to get into elite and top-100 schools, but that’s probably only the top 16% of kids (to pick a number). And they’re probably important for the bottom 16%, but I’d imagine that test scores for those kids are only confirming issues already readily apparent. If this logic is right, most kids can be pretty calm about testing. Sure, it’s a big deal like a little league playoff game or whatever, but it’s just a game, just a test.
It seems like where the pressure really lies is on the schools, teachers, and administrators rather than on the kids. For those adults, every point counts. At a basic level, they’re fighting to make AYP. But even at my daughter’s school (which is ok w/ AYP), the API is still carefully monitored. Did it go up? How does it compare to sister schools in the area? How did a particular teacher do? Maybe it’s the adults who are truly under the microscope.