How the dreaded ‘test’ can change a kid’s life for the better

“Our family had a great experience today. We got to be part of a documentary on the positive impacts education has on kids. We spent the whole day with a film crew from Arizona who treated the kids like they were movie stars for a day. They turned our house into a movie set and followed us around Gorham – I don’t think the kids will forget this one.” —Ben Gilman’s post on Facebook

Why was Ben so eager to share his story?

Ben is one of many parents who not only accept the idea of testing as a part of life, but have experienced the benefits of how tests provide insights that leave parents more informed and less in the dark, especially if their kids are tackling learning challenges.

That’s not something you hear a lot about these days.

Ben’s story highlights how the dreaded word “test” can actually change a kid’s life for the better. For Ben, that kid was one of his foster daughters, Jayden. And she had some very specific learning hurdles.

Ben lives in Gorham, Maine with his wife, Jess, in a semi-rural/suburban community about 20 miles away from Portland. He and his family know a lot about struggle, perseverance, and resilience. They have four kids: two foster daughters whom they are seeking to adopt (Jayden, age 11; and Lily, age 3); an adopted daughter (Anna, age 7); and 1-year old John.

Jayden joined the family at age 8. Like many kids who grow up in the foster care system, she had spotty school attendance and attended many different schools. As a result, she had some learning gaps.

Testing indicated that Jayden was very far behind in math and reading. She had a lot of catching up to do. And there was literally no way to catch up without tests and assessments in school. Getting those, and tackling the resulting gaps in partnership with a group of dedicated and caring teachers, made all the difference for Jayden.

Today, Jayden no longer needs math assistance and has vastly improved in reading.

It didn’t come easily. If you watch the video, you’ll hear Jess talk about how she initially felt as Jayden went through all those tests and assessments. But it is working. And that’s a testament to the power of parents and teachers working together, the love and dedication of a family, and an 8-year-old’s strength and perseverance when her parents support her and expect her to work through her struggles.

That’s just one story. Ben and his wife, Jess, have got a big, loving family. And big dreams for every single one of their four kids. Knowing how each kid is doing in school—and in life—is how Ben and Jess will help their kids turn dreams turn into achievements.

Over the course of the year, we’ll be following Jayden’s path through school, and we’ll learn how she is being tested in school and in life. Jayden has a lot to learn, and we have a lot to learn from her!

This post and video first appeared on the How is My Kid Doing website. For more information about the project and more parent stories, please visit the website.

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Carla Uriona

Carla Uriona

Carla’s greatest inspiration in life is her classical pianist mother who taught her that no dream was too big. Carla is an expert at climbing treehouses, biking, and building contraptions with her 6-year-old, Tomas. She writes about what it’s like to be a parent raising a curious, resilient kid in the series The Bathtub Moment. The idea for creating "How Is My Kid Doing" came to Carla as she was exploring education issues as a parent for the first time. She wanted to create a space for all parents to talk in an open, respectful environment that was conducive to thoughtful conversations, even when we disagree. For more details on How is My Kid Doing, please check out their videos and stories at Follow Carla on Twitter @uriona.

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