F-BOMB the MCAS

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Until he made me take the MCAS."

Yesterday, my 9-year-old took the math portion of the MCAS test. We are supposed to help her prepare for this test. And I know I should be more of a proponent of this standardized testing system. But I’m not (and this page best summarizes why).

I know the rubric that dictates how schools receive their funding. I know how important it is to keep our scores high, to keep our good teachers, to justify our expenses by showing THE DATA — that our kids are acquiring knowledge and education in this public school system. And because we live in a state and a town where the schools are good and highly rated (because, in part, of those high MCAS scores), our neighborhoods are desirable, our home values are high, and our tax revenue goes toward maintaining and improving those schools and all those good things that keep our neighborhoods safe and tidy and such.

*sigh* I know all this. I’m trying to be supportive. Really. But I fucking hate your tests.

I hate that my kid comes home feeling disappointed because she doesn’t have the math facts drilled into her head enough to enjoy total perfect recall of every damn math fact.

I hate that she is filling in those stupid fucking ovals with her #2 pencil already. And that her teacher has to spend class time toward teaching for the test.  I wish the MCAS would die a very painful death. A Ticonderoga stab to the gut.

There is already so much to dislike about the way public schools are run. I know it’s for the good of the majority. And I know I’m a crazy hippie, but I want my child to be playing on the playground for longer periods of time. I want her to have an entire hour–not the 15 minutes she is given–to eat lunch with her peers, so that she can make friends. I wish there were more music and art, more time for child-led reading, free time to explore or invent as her creative brain demands. I could go on.

I support public schooling in many ways, but mostly because it’s economically the best choice for our family. I know that if I had a spare $40k or so I could spend per year on education, I would be sending my kids to Friends School in Cambridge. Or, for about half that, I would send my kids to Sudbury Valley for un-schooling. In a heartbeat. I talk a big game about supporting public education in the US. But I’m secretly wanting better for my own kids.

So, here I am, feeling like such a hypocrite with my shiny smile and cheery “I hope you do GREAT on your MCAS today, sweetie” chant. Rah rah rah. When I don’t care for the way we run this imperfect system of accountability and academic success measurement.

And this isn’t intended to imply that her teachers aren’t completely awesome. They are. I just wish they had the reins. You know. To do their job and teach what is interesting and fascinating, to their hearts’ content. I don’t care for the system. But I love the school. And I respect and admire the teachers.

Kelsey comes away from school lately as if a swarm of zombies were chasing her out the door, gnawing on her sun-starved limbs. She runs out the door, a frowning thing, into my arms. Wanting to go home. Or to play. To do anything that is NOT school. School shouldn’t be a bad word. Lately, it is an expletive. Fucking MCAS.

This post is dedicated, in part, to Helen. Who agrees that MCAS suck. And who uses her expletives appropriately.
  • Susan Ryan-Vollmar

    Love this!

  • raeann

    From one “crazy hippie” to another……I share your pain. My 9 year old, highly intelligent and creative as she is (piano player, singer, and painter), views the MCAS with sheer terror. She LOVES school….science and math especially. But as a highly energetic fourth grader, the very thought of writing a 5 paragraph essay frustrates her to tears. I find it extremely unnecessary and upsetting for both of us.
        As for your longing for a better school for your child despite your belief in public schooling, I share your pain there as well. A die-hard public-school advocate, I entered my daughter’s name in the lottery for the Community-Arts charter school this year with genuine shame. The funding for the charter takes money away from the public schools, and while the few students who are lucky enough to be chosen in the lottery get a great education, the rest of the students suffer. I know that this is inherently wrong. Still, when my daughter’s name was chosen, I knew that I could not deny her this chance for a first-rate, arts-based education. My ideals are important. But my child is more important, and until there is more money put into all of the districts in the state, more parents will make the same decision that I did.
      Now only I only wish that her charter didn;t have to administer those damn MCAS.