Second grade students in my district are given a written assessment test. Student stories are evaluated by the teacher and then forwarded to school administration. I did not give much thought to the test until I received a conference request. I feared a poor academic report and a referral for an English tutor. Nothing prepared me for the information I received that day.
The teacher provided a brief explanation of the assessment and then handed me a copy of my son’s two stories. The first story read:
I like soccer. I play on a soccer team. The kids on my soccer team stink.
The names of the bad players on my team are
(List of names)
“I see why this story wasn’t accepted.” I said with a chuckle.
The teacher nodded, but did not share in my humor. Dismissing her serious demeanor, I scanned the second story. The opening sentence caused the color to drain from my face.
“I’ve known you for several years,” the teacher began, “and thought I would come to you rather than involving our social worker.”
I thanked her and continued reading the story, hoping my son provided enough backstory to explain his “hook”. Each written word made the story worse. I leaned my elbow on the desk, covered my mouth with my hand and stared at the paper. The story read:
My grandmother took me, my brothers and my cousins out for cocktail hour.
We sat on high stools so we could rest our drinks on the bar.
My grandmother fell off the stool and my mom and dad laughed.
“I can explain.” I told her. The laugh that followed bordered on a hysterical screech. “My entire family went on a cruise this past summer. The last night of the cruise, my mother took the grandchildren to a pub-style restaurant for soda and appetizers while the rest of us attended a comedy show. My nephew spotted his parents in a glass elevator and ran in an attempt to reach them. When my mother jumped down from the stool, the heel of her shoe caught on to the chair rung and she fell. We laughed when she explained how embarrassed she was falling off a bar stool in a room filled with people.
“I had a feeling the story wasn’t as bad as it seemed.” The teacher laughed. “It is my job to investigate.”
State testing is a hot debate this year. News reports and social media covering this topic made me recall the story. While it wasn’t funny at the time, typing it today made me giggle.
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Katie McKnight’s first novel, Secrets Revealed, will be released in August 2013