Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ISAT Anxiety

In Illinois, this is the week that 3rd – 5th graders take the ISAT, the standardized test that measures school performance.

Even children with special needs are required to take the test, and though it means more to the school than to the individual students, it still causes anxiety among those taking the test.

Last year was the first time that Kai took the test, and he did as expected, excelling in math but lagging in reading. His math score was above average, but would have been even higher except that he got a zero for the part of the test where you have to explain your answer.

This year, I got a couple prep books from the library and had him take a few practice tests over the weekend. I could see why he will probably get a zero again on the “explain” portion of the test. When asked to draw a graph and then explain how he did it, he drew the graph nicely. But his explanation was rather rudimentary.

“I looked at the numbers. Then I drew the bars.”

The answer booklet gave a much more detailed response, describing how the data was in multiples of 5 and so that was the increments on the y-axis, and how the title of the graph was taken from the title of the table, and so on. Yeah, my son is not going to describe all that. Not this year anyway.

Yesterday morning was to be the first day of the test. Kai said he was nervous, but otherwise seemed fine.

So I was surprised when my wife texted me later to say that the school nurse had called and asked her to pick him up and take him home as he was sick.

My wife said that Kai did take a nap when he got home, but by the time I got home from work, Kai was his usual energetic self, showing absolutely no sign of any illness.

This was not the first time that Kai had gone to the school nurse’s office complaining of not feeling well. It seems to coincide with stressful events. Usually the nurse will take his temperature, tell him he is fine, and send him back to the classroom. Yesterday, though, the regular nurse was not there and the substitute nurse erred on the side of caution.

So this morning we will try again. He seemed perfectly fine at home. Again.

Let’s see how he does at school.


  1. My son had the same problem at first with the explanation portions. As everything already made sense to him because he figured everything in his head in a different manner, he had to learn how others explain things first. I just had him explain to me how to do the he first had to become a order to become a better student :)

    1. I think it will be a long process to get Kai to explain like that, but I'll try to work with him on it a little at a time.


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