I teach kindergarten in a primary school 35 miles south of Chicago in Sauk Village. We happily greet our little ones in August for a magical school year of units about fairy tales, apples, bats, winter habitats, nursery rhymes, dinosaurs, penguins, the ocean, Dr. Seuss, plants, insects and the farm.
We welcome our new students, from the excited wiggle worms ready to explore every inch of the classroom to the tearful little ones wrapped around their mother’s legs. We recognize the children who attended pre-K and have a solid foundation to build upon. We also meet new kinderfriends who have never read a storybook, learned their colors, numbers or ABCs, and don’t know how to print their names or hold a crayon or round tip scissors. Our students do not begin school at the same starting point. Their life experiences from birth to age five are beyond our control, but each child gets opportunities to learn, experience success, and grow.
It used to be that kindergarteners were considered too young for school-wide testing, but times have changed, and from September until June they participate in five sets of standardized tests. This is far too many tests, stressing out students, depriving them of precious time to grow and explore and consuming massive amounts of teacher time that could be better spent educating. I’m all for keeping track of students, particularly the ones that are already falling behind, but this level of testing is counterproductive.