Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Great Exploration

Sean is 13 years old and in the 8th grade; which means taking the high school placement test if you live in my area.

I don’t recall having to take one of those back before computers were born.  You learned what you were supposed to learn in 8th grade and then went to high school.  If you were an exceptional student then you were put in honors classes.  Everybody else was just, dare I say, normal and placed accordingly.

Today it’s normal, high normal, low normal, honors, accelerated, remedial, and the dreaded… Advanced Placement.

And it’s not just for math and reading.  It can now be for social studies and a host of other subjects.

Do you really think the world would stop revolving if Honors World History failed to exist?


Thus, to ensure my little one’s butt is seated in the proper classroom for his intellectual capabilities, the high school placement test had to be invented.

And then shoved down my son’s throat from the first day of 8th grade.

“This will determine your placement in high school which will then determine college….”

Not too much pressure, huh?

Since September they have been preparing the students for this monumental, life-path-determining, 4-hour exam.

You can only imagine Sean’s level of patience with this one.

Even my own began to wear thin a couple of weeks ago and I banned Sean from speaking about it unless there was earth-shattering news to report akin to the #2 pencil being banned and now all students must report with a blue Bic pen.

Finally, after eight weeks of prepping, dozens of conversations, a secret wish to home-school, double-checking to make sure his accommodations were all in place, and a bag full of #2 pencils (as well as his #4 Therapro’s) in hand, Sean was dropped at Room 139 and wished good luck.

I was a wreck.

Sean wanted to use the scantron sheet to put his answers on like everyone else even though he was allowed to write in the test booklet.

Had he ever used a scantron sheet before?  He said he did….

But still I worried.  With his writing so hard (and the gouges on my dinner table to prove it), what if he made a mistake?  He never erases at school because he tears the paper.  What if he had to erase that little dark oval?  And let’s talk about that little oval….  Sean couldn’t stay in the lines if I threatened him with no computer for a month.  How is the computer going to read his answers?

Crap.  Crap.  Double crap.

I watched the clock all morning.  One hour in.  Halfway.  Three hours down.  How’s he doing?  Is he walking around and taking his sensory breaks?  Is the moderator being understanding?  Is he skipping questions and jumping around like he does on his homework?

11:30 am came and Rich left to go wait for Sean to finish.  The high school was hosting not only 800 incoming students for the test, but also a playoff football game and a swim meet.  The place was jammed. 

I thought he’d wait in the lobby for him but instead, Rich waited just outside the front doors of the school.

Sean didn’t need the extra time that was specified in his IEP and was excused from the room around 11:50 am.  He was so proud to finish ten minutes early.

Sean went to the front but did not find Rich.  No worries for Sean… it’s called the Explorer test for a reason so off he went… to explore…alone.  He went up and down hallways, even mounting the stairs to the second floor.

If I had known, I would have freaked.

In the meantime, Sean was having a dandy of a time enjoying his freedom.

Eventually, Sean found a staff member (or probably more accurately, the staff member found Sean), and they called the house looking for Rich.

One inside, one outside…they were like those proverbial ships that pass in the night.

With the aid of a cell phone and the unspoken threat of bodily harm if he did not bring my boy home soon, Rich finally was able to meet up with Sean.

I anxiously awaited their arrival.  I wondered what his mood was like.  Was he scared at any point?  Did he get frustrated?  Was he angry by being confined so long?  Did he think he did OK?  Would he be mentally and physically exhausted from his ordeal?

Questions, questions, questions.  So much agonized over and now the wait is almost over.

The door opens and the words fly from my mouth.

“So… how was it?”


Ugh.  Typical Sean.  I should have known. 

1 comment:

  1. My son did the same thing with our standardized testing here. So much anxiety leading up to it, then he's say it was "fine" afterwards.