I remember pep rallies in high school. Usually we looked all tough in our football jerseys or basketball sweats. The last few years, I've heard of districts who are putting on pep rallies in elementary schools. But there aren't athletics in elementary. So why the pep rally? State testing. Seriously. I wish I was making it up. I have two main issues with this. First, educators complain about lack of instruction time, but then time is taken out of the school day to do a little rah-rah, not to mention the preparation time by other grade levels and teachers. Second, does this really help relieve stress? "Don't worry kids, it's just another test, but we are going to bring the whole school together and line the halls with students and signs." How about a better job is done to provide meaningful opportunities for students to develop a love of writing, then downplay the importance so students are more relaxed? By downplaying, I don't mean ignoring the importance (which is a whole different discussion), but don't make it out to be life or death. Because its not.
If districts spent as much time on instruction as they do on assessments, the assessments would take care of themselves. I heard someone ask once if a teacher wanted their own kids to do well on one of our common summatives. I want mine to do good, but because my child's teacher engaged him in the subject matter. Not because he was psyched up to take the test.