The LEAP Test is Pressure

This blog originally appeared on

By Mary Webb, Contributor

My mother says I put too much pressure on Quentin. To my way of thinking, this falls under her assertion (euphemism for blatant insult) that I bring out the worst in my children. Which is what she says when she’s keeping them and, by her definition, have been angels until I show up, and they become their normal heathen selves.

Her latest observation was in response to me telling Quentin the truth about the LEAP. My comment to him was that he’d passed the iLEAP last year with flying colors, even scoring a Mastery in math. So, if he could do that last year, he could do it again this year when the stakes are higher, as in fail, and he repeats the year. To me, this was part pep talk, part heart-to-heart, part ultimatum. Whatever else, it was honesty, in keeping with a decision I made a long time ago when Quentin was sick. I told him and myself I’d never sugarcoat anything; I’d always give it to him straight. It was the verbal equivalent of ripping a Band-Aid off. I was operating under the premise that it was better to know these things up front and be able to prepare for it than to be caught off-guard after the fact. I would want to know, I reasoned.

Still, she maintained it was, indeed, pressure. It got me to thinking, maybe some folks like the Band-Aid to come off piecemeal. It dawned on me that when I ask my students a question, give them wait time, make another comment, and then ask them if the last thing I said is “Pressure or motivation” and some of them give me that emoji with the circle eyes and wide mouth of teeth look, it’s, in fact, the former and not the latter.

The thing about thinking is when I start, I can’t stop. It’s called overthinking. But then, I think I better overthink because it’s better than underthinking. Or is it? Might be better to think it through well once and let it be.

And, I’m off. It’s okay; I snapped out of it.

But, seriously!

I took Quentin and Jory out to eat to say reward his hard work a few weeks ago, following his Phase I writing test for LEAP. He was so wiped out by the test, when his food came, he asked the waitress to just box it and proceeded to fall asleep at the table while we ate. Damn, I was thinking. But honestly, I kind of felt for him and, simultaneously, felt him. I was feeling a modicum of energy above him, and all I’d had to do was administer the test, not take it.


  “If you think dealing with issues like worthiness and authenticity and vulnerability are not worthwhile because there are more pressing issues, like the bottom line or attendance or standardized test scores, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. It underpins everything.”

                                                                                               Brene Brown


Maybe, it’s no the test so much that’s a ball-breaking drag; it’s the preparation for the test that’s a drain. I know I, for one, couldn’t have been happier Wednesday on the last day of LEAP tutoring. No, actually I was happier…on Thursday when we took our 8th graders on an all-day outing to Palmer Park and then Plum Street Snowballs just because they needed a break, too. The crawfish and shrimp from K-Jean’s was cool, but the nicest thing about the day was sprawling out on my blanket on the grass with a virtual Do Not Disturb expression.

We capped off the week with a pep rally and live Weebie performance.

So, maybe it’s okay to be under the gun as long as you know when to take your finger off the trigger.

As for Quentin, I called off the dogs for him, too. I wasn’t as relentless about his reading. And, he has a practice packet he could complete today or tomorrow but I’ll leave it up to him.

This morning during thankfuls, he mentioned being thankful for the LEAP next week. I take it he’s prepared and confident. I figure the Band-Aids been ripped off, and he’s recovered from it.


Mary Webb is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana where she received a bachelor of arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in print journalism. She is an occasional Copy Editor for Follow Mary’s blog  at