Restricting bathroom access for K-2 students during testing causes humiliating accident
- Author: NYC1stgradeparent, Parent
- State: NY
- Test: State test: Pearson
- Date: September 27 at 3:42 pm ET
I wanted to give readers a sense of the damage to the whole school community that happens as a result of the anxiety and stress surrounding these standardized tests. I posted this story on a closed FB group and also shared it with a teacher friend who encouraged me to add it to this forum.
Last Tuesday afternoon, on the first day of the NYS ELA tests, I received a call to bring a change of clothes in for my 6 yo as he had just had an accident. I was surprised since he hasn’t had an accident in school since he was 3. When I arrived, I found him crying and soaked to his socks. As I was helping him get changed, I asked him what had happened and he told me his teacher told him he couldn’t go to the bathroom. When I asked her to explain the situation she said that she made an announcement in the morning that they would have to limit their bathroom breaks because of “the state tests” and they would be expected to go during lunchtime. When he asked to go (repeatedly) after lunch, she told him he should have gone during lunch. He told me he tried to hold it but just couldn’t. so he had an accident. The teacher didn’t deny any of this (though she did say she didn’t know how urgent it was) and indeed cited the state tests as the reason for limiting bathroom access.
This is in a highly-regarded, fairly enlightened school with generally good teachers. The collective insanity and anxiety of the testing (especially in NYC where teachers and schools are rated and ranked on test scores) seems to have caused teachers to go completely off the rails. When early elementary school children who are not even in testing grades have their days (and their access to the bathroom!) so disrupted by testing, something is seriously amiss. In addition to this (hopefully isolated) incident, the lower grades suffer during testing by having their recess, PE, and “specials” disrupted as the extra space is needed for testing. And then, the week after testing, lower grade teachers are often pulled from classrooms to go off-site to grade the tests, resulting in further disruption.
To the school’s credit, the teacher did apologize to my son and the principal apologized to us. But the fact that this happened at all and the use of standardized testing as a rationale for keeping a small child who urgently needed to use bathroom from doing so is a sad commentary on our current educational priorities. Excessive testing and the high stakes attached to these poorly-designed tests obviously have the greatest negative impact on the children who actually have to take them, but the culture of high-stakes testing is also having negative impacts on our youngest, most vulnerable learners.