We started the "test" today. It was very formal. Second graders and "formal" are not a great combination. But I digress. I had to explain bell curves to 2nd graders today so they would understand that the fact that some of them finished the test with time to spare, still others had to be sent to the library during recess to finish (yes, they missed recess to finish a test that has little to do with them), but they are all intelligent.
Bell curves are awesome things. They illustrate how "normal" is not one place, but s series of places on a continuum, and most of us fit under that curve.
I had to explain because the slow kids felt like shit, and the fast kids thought they were "all that". So I knocked the pompous off their high horses, and lifted the distraught with my kindly scaffold.
My job is to teach the driest of the dry to little, interested, curious, wonderful, cute, talkative, rambunctious kids, then test them, and then explain to them the test doesn't mean anything in terms of their college acceptance.
Its a mixed, convoluted, confusing, ambivalent message we are sending to the students, their parents, and the public.
Do away with the test in elementary school, at least. It causes pain, and little else.