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Proficiency Versus Growth and Why Growth Matters More: Will This Senseless Debate Ever End?

Updated on June 8, 2017
Missy Smith profile image

Missy is a unique writer who enjoys inviting her readers into her thoughts through her poetry and other topics of discussion.  

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Why I Was Inspired to Write This Article

Recently, I read an article I came across on Facebook, and it discussed a teacher who had written a letter to each of her students encouraging them through their worry of the year’s mandatory standardized testing. She told them that the test did not define how smart they are, and everyone is intelligent in their own way. Well, that’s not word-for-word correct, but similar to her uplifting spirit and determination to settle her students' minds on the pressure that always mounts at this time during the year.

My son's teacher was the same as this teacher. She relayed like things to him before he took these standardized tests this year. I am thankful for teachers who see a bigger picture, and a different standard to what smart is. Because, I was a bad student when it came to listening, and completing my work. I understand individuality in the way we achieve things and want to learn. It wasn't from a lack of intelligence on my part, but because at the age, my son is today, and on up into my school years, lessons bored me to tears, and teachers did not know how to make it fun for kids back in those days. Actually, I think they thought of us children as burdens - quite frankly.

I Was Never Going To Be A Proficient Student

I know when I was a student, I frustrated my teachers. My mom made a yearly trip up for a parent-teacher conference to talk about my less than co-operative class participation every single year when I was in school.

The thing is...we all learn and want to learn at our own pace. Some kids just do not like the push factor. I was one of those not ready to sit around a room full of other kids and compete in academic studies. I've never been a competitor. I can't stand competition in anything.

We had yearly tests as well back then, and I hated it, but the tremendous pressures to do well have gotten even more accelerated today, and the levels of genius they expect these kids to be, at such young ages, is astonishing to me.

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Taking Control Back When I Came to the Conclusion of Intrusion

Now, of course, that is how I was, but I fail to believe that there is not another kid out in the school system like myself today, who is just not inclined to learn on a level of a state mandated curriculum. All children are different in ways. Take my daughter, she thrives on competition and learning everything she can fit into her brain right now; at this moment, and continuing. I'm fine with that, but I do worry about her lack of ability to X out the anxiety factor of success, and I also worry if it hasn’t been the pressure of persuasion from adults who teach her to be this way. I want her to succeed, of course, but sometimes, I feel that the education system has overridden my way of helping her do so.

As for my son, I look back at how I was at his age, and it has helped me understand his resistance to his work load on some days. I get a little overwhelmed with his attitude. However, that's just because I have laid the burden of his quota and forward progress on my shoulders now, as I am teaching him at home with little help from a certified teacher. I am thankful though, that his teacher was always there when I did ask her for assistance.

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Stop the Pressure Please!

These yearly tests that are mandatory, bring extra pressure to the classroom and to the home environment. They should be thrown out of the equation of what is needed to move forward.

I knew nothing that my kids do at my son, and even my teenage daughter's age, but I have guided and helped a 100 straight-A student on her continuing success, and who will graduate top of her class in two more years with a promising college career and life after that. I have also helped a 10-year-old, decide what kind of study environment makes him feel comfortable. With much skepticism, I even helped him continue honor roll status this year within his home school setting with me as his learning coach. Yes, that me, the rebel, mediocre, student from years ago.

I hope I have lifted some pressure off them while they strive for adulthood. Because, it is in my worried mind, as a mother first, that I want successful children. However, I want them to be able to adapt to whom they are without stress of being better than…

The Government is Failing Us

Today, we are watching how our new government elected officials are handling this debate. It's not going well. The constant flaws to agree on any law are forever noticeable between Republicans and Democrats and are a continuing failure to get things done.

The new President (Trump), has now picked a Secretary of Education who does not see potential in every child. Clearly, she does not even understand the virtues of an education to poverty-level children. She not only doesn't understand the debate over this matter I talk about today, but she is steadily taking away funding for programs that are necessities for healthy underprivileged students; the ones whom still have the potential to make it in this world with a helping hand from the education department.

They are failing our children on a large scale, and it is frustrating to the parents and teachers who actually care about our youths futures. Trump and Devos are deleting the much-needed after-school programs that tutor children, and give them a safe haven until parents can get off work to pick them up. They have also cut the after-school snack and lunch programs. Having a full belly is crucial to brain function, and the fact is, some children's only outlet to a healthy meal is at school. I was so pleased to know that our community offered the lunch program during summer vacation to students and parents who wanted to come up and eat. It makes me want to cry now knowing these programs that helped so many low-income families is being taken away.

Senator Al Franken Questioning Betsy Devos on Proficiency Versus Growth

What Does the Future for Our Children Hold?

This is a question that doesn't seem to have a valid answer right now. I think most of us hoped that during this past election, someone would be voted in as our leader who would want to delve deep into our education system, and work on making it better for America's students. It didn't work out so well.

I don't know if some people were panicked to find a person to run the country that they felt was much more on a human level than a political one? I'm not sure, but I do know it backfired on all of us. We are in dire need of a new government. We need the political agenda to focus more on a human outcome for our children and our families. However, the debate goes on, and on, and on...

Again...This is Who Is Leading Our Education System and It Terrifies Most of Us

© 2017 Missy Smith

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    • Missy Smith profile image
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      Missy Smith 2 months ago from Florida

      It all is extremely depressing, Shyron, and to have a voice about what is not right doesn't seem to help at all. Although, most of us are against all things that this government is trying to put into place and have voiced it on a daily. You are right though, they only work for their own benefit. It's very sad indeed! :( Thanks for your comment! :)

    • Missy Smith profile image
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      Missy Smith 2 months ago from Florida

      Thanks John! I appreciate your encouragement! :)

    • Missy Smith profile image
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      Missy Smith 2 months ago from Florida

      I don't know, Bill. We are so deep in dodo on so many levels now with this new President and administration. I feel a sense of doom every morning I wake up and something new is on the internet or television. This particular debate is one I wish would have a decent conclusion, but Betsy DeVos is shooting in the dark when it comes to her position. Proficiency is strangling me as a parent. Imagine how it makes the students feel... My daughter has been a basket case every year when the state tests are due. So crazy! :(

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I taught for eighteen years and all I can do is tell you that you are correct in what you say. Now that won't fix the problem we have in this country, but at least you know there are others who agree. We have been mired in this proficiency trap for far too many years. I wonder when this country will find its way out.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Firstly, I woüld like to congratulate on the wonderful job your have done and are doing raising and educating your kids, despite the obstacles you mention. Our own education system in Australia is also receiving plenty of criticism, especially in regard to the testing..which many parents and teachers feel is wrong and places too much stress on the students. The Government being so disconnected certainly doesn't help. Well written, and I can feel your deep concern in every word. I read something you wrote on Facebook indicating that you were no longer going to put your poetry at HubPages, but recite it on YouTube. If so, I will miss your poetry here. I wish you success with you YouTubing however, and hope to view some of your recitations there. Take care.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 months ago from Texas

      Missy, thank you for writing this, you are right, we need someone who is for the people who elected them and most of the ones in office is for their own financial gain and nothing else.

      Betsy DeVos want to do to the country what bobby Jindal did to Louisiana, but no one says anything about that outcome.

      Blessings my friend.