It sounds like something out of a military warfare operation, with soldiers hunkered down in an underground bunker full of sophisticated computer equipment.
But instead, it's a practice day for third-grade state-mandated standardized testing. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills is given to Texas school children beginning in the third grade. But they are taught to fear THE TEST much earlier than that. Campuses cordon off during TAKS testing. Quiet recesses, no lunch visitors, no frivolity or fun to distract the test takers from their mission.
Today, Curt will take his practice TAKS for the second time.
Let's just say the first time didn't go so well.
But thanks to a diligent teacher who has always championed my son and an administration at Rice Elementary that has been nothing but supportive and proactive on Curt's behalf, we're hoping this time will go a little differently.
Curt needs to score an 80 or better on his reading TAKS to "pass" the test. TAKS Simulation, Take 1 didn't even get him close. His teacher reported that as the day-long test progressed, his attention span grew shorter and his frustration level grew larger. You can see this on his test, too. In section one he missed one question. By the end of the day, he hardly got any answers correct at all.
So today, Curt will take his practice TAKS with a lovely, patient assistant principal in her lovely, quiet office. Untimed. No distractions.
I'm saying a prayer (lots of prayers) that this helps. Personal feelings about standardized testing aside, the state mandates Curt pass his reading TAKS. And I mandate my little guy, who learns differently from most of his peers, be given the best chance to do exactly that.
The first time Curt took the practice TAKS, he emerged from the schoolhouse doors after the long day of testing, crumbled into the mulch on the playground and sobbed.
I'm praying today will be different.