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This Standardized Testing Story Will Break Your Heart

This story of a student who sits till 6:30 p.m. trying to do her best on the state test is Exhibit A of what's wrong with high-stakes exams.


Lately, much of the national education conversation has focused on the impact standardized tests have on adults—how the scores are used to determine school effectiveness, and whether they should be included in teacher evaluations. But, kids are the ones who actually have to take the tests, and no matter how much preparation they've had, they feel the stress of these high-stakes exams. Sometime kids do great on the tests anyway. But sometimes, they don't. Stories of students who don't—like this one told in the video above by Bob, a school employee from Texas—are pretty heartbreaking.

Bob tells the story of Angela, a fifth grade student at his school who has struggled throughout the school year with English and reading. She's received extra help during the school day and extra tutoring after school, but if she doesn't pass Texas' day-long, untimed standardized test, the TAKS, she might not get to go to sixth grade. In an attempt to do her best on the test, Angela spends all day on the exam. She doesn't finish till 6:30 at night.

Although most places probably don't allow a student all day to take the state test, the video is a reminder that sometimes what seems like sound educational policy to many adults—overemphasizing standardized tests and creating these draconian policies around them—often isn't what's best for kids. I know I wouldn't want to be in Angela's shoes, or, for that matter, in Bob's—it's not easy to watch a child struggle like that. There has to be a better way to figure out if America's students have learned what they're supposed to.

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