October 20th, 2007

No Grandparent Left Behind

While hanging out in the lobby of the Hotel Bethlehem, Skylar has been subjecting her grandmother to a barrage of tests, most of them revolving around feats of memory recall complicated by the fact that the past they are meant to summon keeps changing at my eight-year-old girl's whim. "Are those flowers over there real or fake, Grandma?," Bean asks. But whatever response my mother gives, the answer seems to be, "Wrong!" I can't help but think that this play-acting, though building on years of what we refer to as "torturing Grandma," has been inflected by the difficult first two months of third grade, during which the preparations for the AIMS test, one of those state-mandated exams bound up with the No Child Left Behind regulations, have weighed heavily on her young and previously school-loving mind. Indeed, I just asked Skylar, "Are you subjecting Grandma to these tests as a way of processing your recent experiences in school," and she replied, "Yes." Then she informed me that, "The lowest score is -10. And guess what Grandma got: -10." My conclusion? Testing may not make you any smarter, but it sure does make you spend more of your time thinking about testing.