There are milestones that as a parent, you look forward to.The first steps, the first words, riding a bike, first day of school, First Communion, last day of school, exams, wedding days. They are celebrated, photographed, videoed and the experience shared with friends and family with pride.
Then there are the milestones you don’t even really think about. The first time they stay home alone, the first time they complete their homework without arguments, crossing the monkey bars, moving from children’s size shoes to adult ones. They come, they are noted and they go. Usually with little more than an Instagram picture and a passing comment between parents.
I guess NAPLAN is one of those milestones that falls into the latter category. It has to be done, all Australian kids will do it when they reach Grade Three. And then every two years until Year 9, when exams start after that anyway.
The NAPLAN website talks about accountability, the need for standardised testing and results that drive improvements. I have no idea if that’s what actually happens, but I do know it can be stressful for the kids going through it for the first time and there are many claims around about how teachers are forced to ‘teach to the test’.
For us, good or bad, I guess I just assumed it was a given that Poss would participate, alongside her peers. If I am completely honest, I never even considered that it would be otherwise.
So, when the school called and suggested that we think about exempting her from parts of the test, it kind of caught me by surprise.
I get it. I know why they want to do it – and despite what others have suggested, I truly believe it’s in the best interest of Poss. She simply does not have the concentration or motor skills to take part in some of the tests, and as they crack down on aides giving assistance, she would have to do it on her own. It’s not fair to put her in that position.
It’s a recommendation that they have made after discussing it with her aide, her current and former teachers. They know her best. They know what she can achieve. And this isn’t it. Rather than have her marked poorly (which wouldn’t represent her true academic ability) or worse, as non-attempted if she had a meltdown and simply refused on the day – she will be marked as exempt.
It’s the best outcome for her. I know this.
But for us, it’s just another reminder that she is different. And always will be in some way or another. Another little smack in the face. Another thing that we are excluded from; when the other parents are discussing it, we will be silent.
A milestone un-met.
So today, I am linking up with Thankful Thursday for all the milestones she has met. The bike riding and the first steps. The first words, the second words and the eleventy billion that have come after it. Her first day of school.
And all the ones we still have to come, even if they aren’t quite what we expected them to be.
Linking up with Six by the Bay for Thankful Thursday