At work today, one of the instructors gave out an article called, “CMT Preparations: What’s your School Doing?” The article was written by Laurel Kilough on February 25, 2010 for the Ct Education Association Blog. And while the ideas seemed interesting, fun, and inventive, I was left be thankful that I homeschool my children. (As many of you know we homeschool our two biological children and our foster son attends public school due to legal requirements) For those of you who do not know what CMT’s are, they are the CT Mastery Tests. While the CMT’s are specific to CT, many other states have similar type tests. The article talks about rigorous academic preparation, involving parents, pep rallies, and ideas to enliven the actual days of the test. As I said the article does put out some interesting ideas like poetry contests to encourage students on the CMT’s, sprinkling fairy dust in the form of reading strategies, or giving encouraging notes, but the whole idea left me with a queasy feeling. Why do we have to focus on rigorous academic preparation? Shouldn’t that be the standard? Why do we need to “send a letter home to parents asking them to limit absences and make sure their children get a good night’s sleep and proper nutrition”? Shouldn’t that be a consistent expectation? I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around holding a pep rally to “get ready” for the test. Isn’t the focus a bit array? Shouldn’t we be excited about learning itself and not about proving our knowledge on a test? As for “fairy godmothers”, Captain Writing, raffles, and incentives, I just ask why? Is the way we are teaching so horrible that we must bribe our students to perform?
The last sentence in the article says “What has your school been doing to prepare for the CMT or CAPT?” Fortunately, we are exempt as homeschoolers so I don’t have to answer this seriously, but my answer is learning. We are learning every day. We are learning for the sake of learning and not so that we can spew out our knowledge on a contrived test to be compared to others, but so that we can be engaged citizens, active community members, and generally better individuals. What are we doing to prepare? We are learning, acting, making changes, reviewing, discussing, interacting, discovering, creating and we don’t even need pep rallies, “fairy dust”, or Smarties to make it fun.