It’s a little much to put this type of pressure on kindergarten students, but starting tomorrow, Kaitlyn will be taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). It is a test designed to measure where she is in several different subject areas. With the third, fourth, and fifth grade students having been under the stress of FCAT since last Monday, it’s time for the kindergarten, first, and second graders to feel the heat.
The test measures progress in reading, math, and language, and offers comparative scores to students across the country in the same representative group, with 50 being the national average. Kaitlyn brought home a practice test she completed in school in the reading section, and she scored a 100%. She had to identify the action being described in the picture for each question.
Kaitlyn has been feeling the pressure of the coming week since Friday. Her teacher had given the class specific instructions that included getting plenty of rest before the test, and Kaitlyn took that to mean early to bed beginning Friday. As soon as her regular bed time rolled around, she demanded to go to bed. We did our best to convince her it was ok to stay up a little later, but in the end she had gotten so worked up about getting her rest that she went to bed quite early. Both Friday and Saturday nights did not prove to be especially restful for her; I heard her tossing and turning a few times throughout the night, and she was talking in her sleep more than usual.
She has been nervous about the test today as well. As we were talking to my parents on Skype, she was worried that she was going to get a 0% on the test. I told her that she just needs to follow the instructions, take her time, and do her best, and that is all we ask of her. I hope she is able to relax and do her best this week. I don’t want her to be so concerned about doing spectacular on the test that she does not do well at all. And that is a big part of the reason I am not a fan of standardized tests. There is a ton of pressure on the test-taker that performance is bound to suffer. It did for me when I took the SAT.
I also wonder if these tests are not the best for students on the autism spectrum like Kaitlyn. Her teacher has remarked to us numerous times how smart and ahead of the class Kaitlyn is, but also shared her concerns with tasks that don’t challenge her or keep her attention. I imagine that would be true for a lot of children with Asperger’s or other autism spectrum disorders. And then there is the fact that her entire school-day routine will be changing to accommodate testing. The built-in breaks and down time have really been beneficial to Kaitlyn this year.
I can’t wait to see how Kaitlyn does on the tests this week. We won’t get her scores, however, until we get her last report card. As long as she does her best, that is all Amber and I can ask for. This week’s testing will give us a baseline to go off of and areas that she may need to improve in.