stephanie jones

Five Strikes and I’m Already Out: Parenting for the CRCT (Georgia’s high-stakes test) Day 1 of 3

In family-school relations, high-stakes tests, NCLB, personal narratives on April 21, 2009 at 11:42 am

Parenting for the CRCT sucks. For weeks now, letters, papers, calendars, and other notes have come home in Hayden’s backpack about the Georgia state test that begins today for her first grade. We have had lists of things to do and not do including “stretching and breathing to help with stress test” – I mean, are you freaking kidding me? The kids wouldn’t BE stressed – and nor would their parents – if you hadn’t sent home a website address months ago and told the kids (and us in an official letter home) to “practice the CRCT every night.” Really?

So for literally, months, Hayden has been harping on me, “Mom, I have to get on the computer and practice for the CRCT today!”

“Sure, sweetie. We’ll do that. If not today, sometime next week,” (over my dead body, I mutter under my breath), “right now let’s go play outside.”

“Mom, look what I got today! We can play it right now,” she tells me as she pulls out a concentration game – of CRCT tips!

“Sure babe. Let’s have a snack first and we’ll get back to that,” I’m getting very good at being evasive…well, maybe all parents learn that on day one of their child’s life. I mean, what am I supposed to do, “Dammit! I wish that school would stop sending that stupid stuff home about the test. Look at the trees they’re killing! Look at the time they’re wasting! Look at the money they’re spending! Hayden, we’re not going to partake in this crazy game any more. I’m pulling you out tomorrow babe. Where will you go to school? I don’t know because EVERYONE has lost their minds! I’ll keep you in this house until you are old enough to go to college. No. Forget that. Everyone at colleges have lost their minds too!” (this from a college professor of course).

Finally she corners me.

“Mom. We gotta play this game. Now!” Oh God. She’s turned into a CRCT robot. An angry one.

“Alright sweetie. Let’s see that.” The sweetness is killing me. I’m ready to go on a rampage.

And we play the game. I refuse to even read the cards “Get me to school on time” – and play concentration focusing on the silly pictures on the cards.

We tie.

“Great! That was fun. Let’s get the chess game out and see how you’re thinking today,” and we play chess.

We never did look at that website.

Finally the week is here. First graders only have about 1 hour a day for three days (today, tomorrow, and Thursday), but they know the older kids go at it all week.

We haven’t made it to the grocery store and figuring out something for dinner before I go to a parents’ meeting about Hayden’s upcoming dance recital is impossible.We don’t even have what we need to make grilled cheese. Casey looks at me and mouths, “McDonald’s?”

Oh man. Strike one. I’m sure the CRCT police do NOT recommend McDonald’s for dinner the night before the test.


Then I head off to a meeting and Casey and Hayden eat and head to bed.

12:00 midnight: footsteps in the hallway.

Oh man. Strike two.

“Mommy? I have a cramp in my leg. It hurts really bad.”

I have a cramp in my head, put there by legislators and test makers and test preparation materials creators, and district superintendents, and principals, and…

“Come here honey. I’ll rub it.”

12:20: still rubbing.

12:40: still rubbing.

12:50: still rubbing.

“Mommy. Can you just lay down with me?”

1:00: Hayden’s bed.

This can’t be in the CRCT plan.

Wait – is this CUSTOM MADE by the CRCT plan? Is it possible Hayden is waking up and having cramps because of the test? (my grandmother’s voice comes to mind, “So help me God…”)

2:00: Back to my own bed.

2:40: “Mommy?”

Strike Three.

“I’ll come lay down with you,” Casey says and heads to Hayden’s bedroom.

“I’m afraid you guys are gonna leave me,” Hayden says.

Really? She has not said this before. Is this horrible insecurity brought on by the SUPER-SIZE-TEST-ANXIETY-STARTING-AT-SEVEN-YEARS-OLD trick in school?

(Here comes my grandma again, “So help me God…”)

3:15: Quiet. And I’m thinking about not sending her to school, taking a sign and protesting at the school entrance, withdrawing her from school, screaming at the top of my lungs. But no, that would get me Strike Four because surely Hayden will wake up.

6:15: Casey gets Hayden out of bed and dressed. I hear them but I’m exhausted.

6:30: “Bye honey. Get up,” he tells me – just like every other day. 6:30 is my shift – her bus comes at 7:00 am.

7:00: “Mo-om! You need to come downstairs.”

Shit! That must be Strike Four. I overslept? OMG!

“Honey, did the bus come yet?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Okay, let’s brush your hair real quick. Here. Have another bite of this banana, and I’ll feed you the rest of the waffles”

We rush around like crazy – shoes on, hair brushed (sort of), bookbag, lunch box, and I have the toothbrush in hand when the bus pulls up (lucky us – it comes to the door), and she runs out without brushing her teeth.

Strike Five.

“Love you baby. Do a great job today and have fun!”


  1. You know I believe that kid feet padding their way to a loved one’s room after midnight should always be seriously attended to.

    This is another story to add to the paper on freedom. Look at how the CRCT limits freedom:

    invasion of home routines
    time to play more stimulating games
    adequate sleep for three people
    personal hygiene

    It even creeps into a young one’s psyche and disturbs her sense of security. How insidious!

    We need to have zero tolerance. It’s time to strike back. Since my kids are older, I let them choose whether or not they wanted to go to school during testing. All three of them “chose” to go. You know why? The school gave them snacks and let them watch movies when testing was done. I guess I need to do a better job of educating my children about social activism.

    Thanks for writing this piece.

  2. Ahhhh…I hadn’t even considered the connection to the freedom paper, but of course! That’s just one of thousands of reasons why you’re my friend – you find all those things for us….

    I think I will offer Hayden the option of going tomorrow or not. I do know they get to take off their shoes and play the rest of the day (the teachers really are trying to compensate for the pain and suffering children experience…though I wish it was aimed more toward social activism and changing the tests, test preparation, and testing regiments.)

  3. Bennett’s comment after his test today: Ugh. We had to postpone learning about rocks for yet another day because of this test. But, we had free time all afternoon afterwards.

    Then tonight I’m receving last minute lessons from students who are supposed to teach tomorrow in their field experience and they are sending me test prep/quiz review “lessons.” As their literacy methods professor, I am required to scaffold and ultimately sign off on their lessons. I work with them on lessons for our class based on best practice which they would ideally then teach in the field, but if the lessons do not fit, I tell them to defer to the coopearing teacher. This year I’ve had a number of students who are being asked to do test prep lessons by their cooperating teachers. It is so frustrating!

  4. I think I told you that Quinn’s school sent home a note to tell parents not to have their kids make their beds testing week- no undue stress in their lives! I know I get stressed everytime I make my bed!

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