“Mom, can you opt us out of the state testing?”

“Why?”

“Because some other moms are doing that.”

“Maybe they have a good reason.”

“Can you find a good reason?”

“I can’t, actually.”

“I wish you could.”

“I’m sorry to tell you, you didn’t get that mom.”

“It’s a dumb test, Mom. It doesn’t even test our abilities. It’s testing the school’s effectiveness.”

“Then this is one way you can thank all of the teachers who’ve taught you so much. By doing your best.”

“Even if it’s not about me?”

“Yes. Maybe especially then.”

(Groan.)

“Here’s what I want you to know, buddy. This test? Doesn’t matter to me one bit. It won’t tell me anything about you that I don’t already know, and it definitely won’t show how smart you are. Using one test to tell how smart you are is like trying to measure the light of one star from what we see from our driveway. There’s just no way to measure how brightly it can really shine. This test is like that. But you doing your best? That matters to me a lot. Always will.”

(Silence. He’s still willing me to change my mind.)

“The thing is, buddy, I’m doing you a favor. Someday down the road, there will be a test you’ll have to take, and there will be no option to get out of it or around it. Other kids won’t know how to do it, but you’ll be able to look back on today and think of it as good practice.”

“So I’m taking the test.”

“You are.”

 

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