The front page of yesterday’s paper warned parents to be prepared for a shock to the system when their child brings home last year’s TCAP scores. It comes after MONTHS of notes, e-mails, articles and parent meetings saying the exact same thing. The TCAPs have been so hyped that I can’t believe anyone is going to be surprised by good OR bad results. I’m even willing to go out on a limb and predict our family’s results.
First, is the middle child who was in the eighth grade last year. At last year’s TCAP meeting, the test booklet was distributed with the scores to help parents understand the areas of concern to their child. Ideally, it was to be used to create very individualized tutoring plans. My child’s scores were excellent, but when I asked him how he felt about the test without showing him the scores, he replied that he felt pressured by the time limits. So, I had him sit at the kitchen table and take the test again. He was told that there were no time limits, but in less than the allotted time, he scored perfectly. In every area of the test, he missed zero problems. The TCAP is a useless measure for my middle child. I may have him take the ACT this summer just so I have a better idea of his educational needs. I am certain of one thing that he needs. Because he spends every free moment with his nose in a book, he has an excellent vocabulary on paper, but an inability to correctly pronunciate the words he has read, but not heard. We need to figure out how to work out the kinks in his speech before he starts college. I expect his TCAPs to have mistakes based on time limit anxiety and not ability.
The other TCAP results in our family will be for the youngest girl. She will take her first TCAP this year and I will still make a prediction on her results for next year. Based on her lip quiver and manipulative “Math is haaaard” attempts to get an older sibling to give her the answers to homework, I expect terrible math scores and good language scores. This is not the school’s fault. This is just a red flag that she needs to do more math until she gains the skills to confidently tackle new concepts. Her brain doesn’t have an operating system yet and WE have to help her download one.
Now, I wait. Not in anticipation of a jolt, but for the confirmation of what every parent already knows based on the level of work their child is doing. The work you see at the kitchen table every afternoon. The work you see when they take online quizzes and play with educational software. The work you hear when you read together in the evenings. TCAPs are tools that schools should use to measure the curriculum. They should not be a surprise to parents.