Dear Devoted Teacher,

I know it’s that time of year again. For you, the beauty of Spring has a dark underbelly — increased pressure to ensure that your students pass their end of grade (EOG) or end of course (EOC) tests. The pressure to prove that you’re a good teacher and worthy of praise (and keeping your job), must feel like an ever-tightening vice, right where it hurts most.

I totally get that your job (and likely your salary) depend a great deal on the EOG/EOC test scores of your students. I’m sympathetic, but I also think this system stinks (like a well-used port-a-potty that’s been sitting in the hot desert sun for two weeks).

As you well know, not every student is good at taking tests. Especially hours-long, high-pressure, make-it-or-break-it tests. I have first-hand knowledge, as my son with ADHD, LD, autism, and anxiety is one of those students. It doesn’t matter how long you prep him for the test, how many test practice worksheets he completes, how good of a breakfast he eats on test mornings, or the quality and quantity of his sleep the night before. It doesn’t matter what you do — his brain isn’t built to succeed on EOG/EOC tests. That’s simply the way it is. And that’s okay.

I’ve come to accept that my son won’t do well on these tests, and won’t even pass half of them. Again, that’s okay — he just can’t show his knowledge in the standardized ways deemed appropriate for the masses.

You see, I have no problem with my son not passing EOG’s. We don’t even talk about them in our house because you and your fellow educators have already incited a fear of infinite damnation that loops in his subconscious. Actually, I take that back. We do talk about EOG’s: about how they are not worth worrying about and getting sick over. About how not everyone is skilled at taking tests. About whatever score he achieves being ok with us, as long as he does the best he can, for himself. About how the statement that failing EOG’s means you will have to repeat the grade is a bold-faced lie.

Educators have already incited a fear of infinite damnation that loops in his subconscious. #ADHDClick To Tweet

Yes, we will do our best to get restful sleep and a brain-fueling breakfast each day of testing. Yes, I will remind my son to do the best that HE can do. That’s it. No more. Stirring anxiety and fear only makes students perform worse, not better (not to mention the potential of doing irreparable emotional harm).

Yours truly,

The Momma of a Wonderfully Smart and Awesome Boy,
Who Happens to Be a Mediocre Student

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Penny Williams
Author. Parenting Guide. Journalist. Speaker.
Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD. Penny is the current editor of ParentingADHDandAutism.com, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.