Fed up with pressure standardized tests place on her young children, a North Carolina mom decided to speak out.
Adrian Wood, who blogs at Tales of an Educated Debutante, wrote a post titled “Stop the EOG Madness,” which she shared on Facebook. “EOG” refers to the North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests that are administered to students in third through eighth grades.press
On May 30, Wood posted a photo of her third-grade son on Facebook, along with her thoughts about these standardized tests.
That day, the mom wrote, she had received a phone call from her son who was in the school nurse’s office crying.
“He proceeded to tell me about his jaw and how it was really hurting,” she explained. “I asked if he wanted to come home, and he replied that he didn’t think he could because of EOGs. Of course you can, I said, it’s just a test.”
Her son responded that he couldn’t go to fourth grade if he didn’t pass.
“I told him that wasn’t true. I got a letter telling me that you’re going to fourth grade, I said. I lied,” Wood wrote. “How did it come to this? He’s a good student, only nine, and I’m reminded of his brother last year before the EOGs. I don’t know what else to do.”
The mom said she’s spoken to her son’s teacher and the school principal to reassure the little boy. She’s met with the local superintendent, talked to Governor Roy Cooper, and written to her senators, representatives and state superintendent, Mark Johnson, about the issue of EOGs.
“I can’t find one person that praises them or offers valuable benefits,” Wood wrote. “I hear about showing growth, but who gives a shit? Schools at the top don’t grow, there’s no where to go. Tell me how EOGs and the pressure they bring benefit my family. What message are we sending to our children? How will they remember the days of elementary school? Will they remember the awesome teachers that nurtured them or will they only remember those tests? Tests that had little to do with amazing schools.”
She concluded by urging her readers to share their thoughts and experiences with standardized tests and speak out on behalf of students and teachers.
Wood has four children ― a 7-year-old daughter and three sons, ages 11, 9 and 3. Her oldest son is in fifth grade and has dyslexia, while her youngest has autism, and all four of the children attend public schools in Eastern North Carolina.
Wood herself attended private school and received graduate degrees from public universities, including a doctorate in education from North Carolina State University.
Wood told HuffPost she decided to speak out against EOG testing after seeing the stress it caused children. Citing “EOG pep rallies,” endless preparation and test practice and “EOG celebrations” instead of end of the year parties, the mom said the culture around these standardized tests has gotten out of hand.
“Parents in North Carolina cannot opt out of exams, though some refuse,” she said. “The federal government requires 95 percent participation in testing as it is tied to federal money. Schools and districts are under tremendous pressure from the state to show growth, perform, and then are given grades. No one escapes the pressure, not teachers or children, a true trickle down effect.”
Wood has been vocal about this issue in the past. Last year, her letter to President Obama about the pressures of standardized tests went viral.
“I think families feel stuck,” she told HuffPost. “We have chosen public schools as we believe them to be in the best interest for our children and then, testing that is stressful, arduous, developmentally inappropriate and not supported by research happens.”
The mom’s recent Facebook post received more than 3,500 likes and has been shared almost 3,000 times. Wood told HuffPost it’s part of an education series she’s been running on her blog for the past two weeks to share her experiences and connect with others who have stories to share. She’s been “floored” by the overwhelming response from parents, teachers, and administrators.
Wood said she hopes people who read her post feel inspired to speak out about this issue.
“Families feel stuck and the disconnection between state policy and best practice is a divide that defies the imagination,” she added. “Perhaps, if we speak up, the people driving may start listening? I sure hope so.”