Monday, May 23, 2011

E…O…G? O...M...G!

EOG...The three most dreaded letters of third grade.

Hello, blog world! I return to my13 fateful cyber followers after a whirlwind month of marriage, moving, and mayhem.  My schedule is becoming somewhat stable now…well, as stable as it’s going to be for me…and I am ready to be irreverent again!

I have been dreading this past week for three years now.  Yes, it’s the first year my son Wesley had to suffer through EOGs.  End Of Grade testing is the equivalent of the bird flu in elementary academia, bringing about mass hysteria with communal symptoms of fear, anxiety, and frustration.  It knows no boundaries, infecting teachers, parents, and students alike.

EOGs are the gateway into fourth grade, and there is no other route.  We have pre tested and practiced all year.  There have been bench marks, parent meetings, accelerated student tutoring, and even community forums.  Preparation has been ceaseless and involves every aspect of the student – mind, body, and spirit.  No stone was left unturned.  Prior to test week, reminders for what the children need during these critical testing days have peppered my fridge.  I have flyers on healthy eating, lowering the stress in the home, exercise routines, adequate hydration, and, of course, plenty of sleep.

Instead of falling prey to the disease, I initially chose the stance of a celebratory observer.  Yes, akin to a spectator in Madrid’s Running of the Bulls, I tried to actively ignore the scholastic anarchy.  Needless to say, I failed miserably and contracted the eog bug.  As a matter of fact, a week prior to testing, Wesley was eating broccoli, getting daily massages after his yoga sessions, drinking eight glasses of water per day, and doing 20 push ups before bed at 7pm.  

I have never been a standardized girl, EVER.  Big shock.  I somehow managed to jump those hurdles throughout my academic career, however.  Truth be known, my moral compass completely shut down when it came to these tests.  Cheat sheets, cliff notes, and self help books were used without hesitation.  From “Standardized Tests for Dummies” to “How the Pass the SAT using Ancient Mayan Predictive Techniques,” I desperately searched the shelves of Barnes & Noble for the easy way out.  I had no problems skimming the edge of ethics, because coloring outside the lines makes a much more interesting picture.  Speaking of pictures, I remember after the first few questions on my first attempt at a satisfactory SAT score, I sooooo lost interest that I began filling in the bubbles to form the outline of pop icon Billy Idol.  My GRE was an on-line assessment, and I chose the answers based on the names of animals formed by clouds outside the window beside the computer cubicle.  Fluffy Ants and Dingos…that was my strategy!  I managed to get into both undergraduate and graduate schools by the skin of my teeth.  Thankfully, other criteria were also used to evaluate my potential success.

Today, scholastic requirements are much more stringent. And Wesley not only possesses my personal preference for “coloring outside the lines,” but has a brain that does, as well.  He socially and biologically functions against the Bell curve, because dyslexia and assimilation are oil and water.  Besides the aforementioned, the federal government has created more pressure on school personnel by warping “No Child Left Behind” into some teacher-evaluation-incentive debacle, and the Great State of North Carolina opted to use third grade EOG test scores as the sole Gatekeeper to fourth grade for students.   Academic chaos has thus infiltrated elementary school life!

All year practice tests have come home with Wesley.  I have tried to assist him, but the rage takes over at the seemingly endless stream of ridiculous questions, logic, and answers.  I cannot follow institutionalized bread crumb trail to the standardized logical answer. My chaotic aura of being just can’t.  The result:  I never choose the correct answer.  Sometimes, there are even two equally appropriate answers from which to choose.

Example of the ridiculous Question-Answer set: 

Fatima and Ty-Chen have a busy day!  After breakfast at which lasts 1 hour, they have to help their mother in the garden for 2 hour at , clean their room for 2 hours at , and attend a family reunion at for 3 hours.  When is the best time for them to have lunch?

B.    9:00 am

Standardized appropriate answer:  A.  

WTH!  They are eating lunch 2 hours after they have breakfast!  Childhood obesity is running amuck, and THIS is the official answer?  What happened to Dick and Jane?
And whose mother actually gardens?  And what children actually help in this said fantasy garden?  For the record, it does not take an hour to eat a Hot Fudge Sundae Poptart.  Cleaning their room for two hours is possible, however, where is the 2 plus hours allotted for the whining and stomping of feet followed by some consequence--perhaps NOT going to the reunion--for using a disrespectful tone to the parent who asked for the task to be completed?  Hell, by the time the room cleaning festivities are over, it’s past everybody’s bedtime and the reunion is over.  Lunch/Dinner, therefore, is eaten at and consists of a couple of Ritz crackers and some grape jelly beans dug out between the mattresses during the waterboarding/cleaning fiasco.   And, is not even an OPTION.

But logic and reason are forever lost in the rote, mechanical world of EOGs.  So, I, along with hundreds of other parents will submit to the Academic Overlord during the month of May.  We will feed our children broccoli, force them to go to bed while the sun is still up, encourage them to use their strategies, and make June appointments with child therapists specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A. Ballerina