Tears in his eyes. My 3rd grade son was waiting in the foyer when I arrived home from work. His eyes were filled with tears, and he looked terrified. I had a panicky feeling because I thought something was really wrong. I asked him why he was crying, and he proceeded to tell me that he got a 100% on his social studies test. I was elated because we worked really hard for two days studying the different landforms! But, he went on to tell me that he got a 33% on his math test and a 62% on his reading test. He told me that he was worried that he would fail third grade. My stomach dropped. I felt sick for him knowing that he was obviously devastated by his low grades. He did not even seem excited at all about his 100%! How sad that a child in third grade was this upset about his grades even though neither my husband nor myself have ever pressured him about getting good grades.
My 3rd grader has struggled in school for a few years now. Inconsistent grades in reading and remaining pretty static in math. He has failed every single math test since first grade. Every. Single. Test. Imagine the feeling he has as he prepares to take the next test already knowing that he will not do well. My heart breaks for him and all the other children that are struggling with the new math concepts and applications.
My son has had wonderful teachers that have worked hard with him, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. The light bulb is not going on for him. He tries hard and completes his work but can’t seem to grasp the concepts being taught. It makes me sad to think that the Common Core has defeated my son. This new curriculum has turned my happy, outgoing, not stressed kid into a high anxiety, cry before school kid. I am angry that the system that Governor Cuomo has set up has failed my son; the modules are confusing and not age appropriate.
What has changed?
The Common Core State Standards have changed the math curriculum and made it much more challenging for the students in many grades. So challenging that if your child struggles with concepts, they are left perplexed and broken. Plain and simple. The children that are high achievers and normally do well will be okay because they are able to understand the information being presented. The average achieving students must work harder to understand it, but they will eventually get it. Unfortunately, the lower achieving students are completely lost and overwhelmed. Of course this is not the case for everyone, but in my experience with my son this is what I am seeing.
Problems that were once solved by a basic math operation now require you to show work and explain how you got the answer. I understand the theory behind all of this, but for some kids this is confusing. I realize that the way I was taught to just do a problem but not really understand the “why” behind it is now replaced by fully understanding why we do things. But, when applying this to word problems that are four steps long in third grade, some kids are shutting down before they get step one completed. That is my son. He rushes through the test missing even basic questions because he is so lost and frustrated.
For those of you that do not know, third grade is the first year students will take the ELA/Math State tests. These 8 and 9 year olds will sit for extended periods of time reading passages and answering questions that are ambiguous and confusing. They will be required to read multiple step word problems with names of people that they cannot even pronounce. They will do this for three days one week and three days the following week. AND the teacher will be scored on each child’s growth. Growth on a third grade test…how can that be shown if this is the first year taking a state test? The teacher must predict what each child will get based on the scores from the local tests they are given the first month of school! Yes, I said predict! The last time I checked, teachers were not fortune tellers! Let me also clarify that the local assessments are not at all parallel to the state tests!
The state tests do not define my son; therefore, he will not be taking the third grade test this year. His anxiety is so high already that there is no need to push him over the edge. He will not benefit at all from sitting and taking a test that is so over his head that he shuts down. The test is not beneficial for his teacher because the results are not used to remediate him. The scores are not actually sent out until the following September. There is no good reason that I can think of for him to be subjected to the NYS testing mess! My son is much more than a test score, and I refuse to allow his spirit to be completely broken at 8 years old!